Throughout our study of chapter 7, we saw that the writer to the Hebrews had been explaining the great theme of Jesus as our Great High Priest. But as we now come to chapter 8, the author shows us how the idea of Jesus’ priesthood applies very practically to our lives today.
He introduces us to the idea of a “covenant” - the terms upon which our relationship with God is based. The priesthood after Aaron’s line ministered the “Old Covenant” between God and man, and they did so within an earthy tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-4). What the author wants to communicate is that this earthly set-up was actually designed after the pattern of a heavenly reality (Hebrews 8:5). The Old Covenant on earth had a place in human history according to God’s eternal plan - but now that Jesus has established the “New Covenant”, which He now ministers in the heavenly tabernacle, it was now time to leave the Old, and cling to the New. After all, the New Covenant is a better covenant that was established on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). But just so that the readers didn’t think that the author is making this up, he quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34 which foretells of the New Covenant that God would establish between Himself and man (Hebrews 8:8-9).
We see that within the New Covenant, there is the promise of inner transformation (Hebrews 8:10), a new relationship with God (Hebrews 8:10-11), and a true cleansing from sin (Hebrews 8:12), which of course now makes the Old Covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:12). Who would want to hold onto the Old, given all that God has given us in the New?