Now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry - His office of priesthood is more excellent than the Levitical, because the covenant is better, and established on better promises: the old covenant referred to earthly things; the new covenant, to heavenly. The old covenant had promises of secular good; the new covenant, of spiritual and eternal blessings. As far as Christianity is preferable to Judaism, as far as Christ is preferable to Moses, as far as spiritual blessings are preferable to earthly blessings, and as far as the enjoyment of God throughout eternity is preferable to the communication of earthly good during time; so far does the new covenant exceed the old.
But now hath he obtained - That is, Christ.
A more excellent ministry - A service of a higher order, or of a more exalted nature. It was the real and substantial service of which the other was but the emblem; it pertained to things in heaven, while that was concerned with the earthly tabernacle; it was enduring, while that was to vanish away; see the notes on 2 Corinthians 3:6-9.
By how much - By as much as the new covenant is more important than the old, by so much does his ministry exceed in dignity that under the ancient dispensation.
He is the mediator - see the notes on Galatians 3:19-20, where the word “mediator” is explained. It means here that Christ officiates between God and man according to the arrangements of the new covenant.
Of a better covenant - Margin, “Or testament.” This word properly denotes a “disposition, arrangement, or ordering” of things; and in the Scriptures is employed to describe the arrangement which God has made to secure the maintenance of his worship on earth, and the salvation of people. It is uniformly used in the Septuagint and in the New Testament to denote the covenant which God makes with people. The word which “properly” denotes a “covenant or compact” - συνθήκη sunthēkē- “suntheke” is never used. The writers of the New Testament evidently derived its use from the Septuagint, but why the authors of that version employed it as denoting a “will” rather than the proper one denoting a “compact,” is unknown. It has been supposed by some, and the conjecture is not wholly improbable, that it was because they were unwilling to represent God as making a “compact” or “agreement” with people, but chose rather to represent him as making a mere “arrangement or ordering of things;” compare the notes on Hebrews 8:8, and Hebrews 9:16-17. This is a better covenant than the old, inasmuch as it relates mainly to the pardon of sin; to a spiritual and holy religion; see Hebrews 8:10. The former related more to external rites and observances, and was destined to vanish away; see Hebrews 8:13. Which was established upon better promises - The promises in the first covenant pertained mainly to the present life. They were promises of length of days; of increase of numbers; of seed time and harvest; of national privileges, and of extraordinary peace, abunance, and prosperity. That there was also the promise of eternal life, it would be wrong to doubt; but this was not the main thing. In the new covenant, however, the promise of spiritual blessings becomes the principal thing. The mind is directed to heaven; the heart is cheered with the hopes of immortal life, the favor of God and the anticipation of heaven are secured in the most ample and solemn manner.
Which was established upon better promises - The promises in the first covenant pertained mainly to the present life. They were promises of length of days; of increase of numbers; of seed time and harvest; of national privileges, and of extraordinary peace, abunance, and prosperity. That there was also the promise of eternal life, it would be wrong to doubt; but this was not the main thing. In the new covenant, however, the promise of spiritual blessings becomes the principal thing. The mind is directed to heaven; the heart is cheered with the hopes of immortal life, the favor of God and the anticipation of heaven are secured in the most ample and solemn manner.
Under the new covenant the conditions by which eternal life may be gained are the same as under the old—perfect obedience. Under the old covenant there were many offences of a daring, presumptuous character for which there was no atonement specified by law. In the new and better covenant Christ has fulfilled the law for the transgressors of law if they receive Him by faith as a personal Saviour.... Mercy and forgiveness are the reward of all who come to Christ trusting in His merits to take away their sins. In the better covenant we are cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ.... The sinner is helpless to atone for one sin. The power is in Christ's free gift, a promise appreciated by those only who are sensible of their sins and who forsake their sins and cast their helpless souls upon Christ, the sin-pardoning Saviour. He will put into their hearts His perfect law, which is “holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), the law of God's own nature.24 TMK 299.4Read in context »
Through Christ the hidden glory of the holy of holies was to stand revealed. He had suffered death for every man, and by this offering the sons of men were to become the sons of God. With open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, believers in Christ were to be changed into the same image, from glory to glory. The mercy seat, upon which the glory of God rested in the holiest of all, is opened to all who accept Christ as the propitiation for sin, and through its medium, they are brought into fellowship with God. The veil is rent, the partition walls broken down, the handwriting of ordinances canceled. By virtue of His blood the enmity is abolished. Through faith in Christ Jew and Gentile may partake of the living bread (Letter 230, 1907). 5BC 1109.1
(Ch. 26:65; Daniel 5:5, 25-28; Hebrews 10:19, 20.) Israel a Nation Unchurched—In Christ the shadow reached its substance, the type its antitype. Well might Caiaphas rend his clothes in horror for himself and for the nation; for they were separating themselves from God, and were fast becoming a people unchurched by Jehovah. Surely the candlestick was being removed out of its place. 5BC 1109.2
It was not the hand of the priest that rent from top to bottom the gorgeous veil that divided the holy from the most holy place. It was the hand of God. When Christ cried out, “It is finished,” the Holy Watcher that was an unseen guest at Belshazzar's feast pronounced the Jewish nation to be a nation unchurched. The same hand that traced on the wall the characters that recorded Belshazzar's doom and the end of the Babylonian kingdom, rent the veil of the temple from top to bottom, opening a new and living way for all, high and low, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. From henceforth people might come to God without priest or ruler (Manuscript 101, 1897). 5BC 1109.3Read in context »
Christ, our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding in man's behalf, but the Spirit pleads not for us as does Christ, who presents His blood, shed from the foundation of the world; the Spirit works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving. The gratitude which flows from our lips is the result of the Spirit's striking the cords of the soul in holy memories, awakening the music of the heart. 1SM 344.1
The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor, who is at God's right hand, presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with the merits of Christ's propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable. Then gracious answers are returned. 1SM 344.2
Oh, that all may see that everything in obedience, in penitence, in praise and thanksgiving, must be placed upon the glowing fire of the righteousness of Christ. The fragrance of this righteousness ascends like a cloud around the mercy seat. 1SM 344.3Read in context »