Chapter 38 The Mediator Of The New Covenant

He is the mediator of the new testament (Hebrews 9:15).

The Lord by His sacrifice is able to purify the conscience and cleanse the heart of man. These effects were not possible under the old covenant. Therefore a new covenant was brought in, but not until the old covenant had received all the honor which its tremendous sanctions demanded. Death was its demand for transgression, and this it received on behalf of us all by one of the covenant-makers, the Son of God. This led the Hebrew believers to have respect for what, naturally, they hated most—the doctrine of a crucified Messiah.

The New Covenant

The efficacious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and His prevailing mediation needed a new covenant to suit them. New wine could not be put into old bottles. Therefore, He who offered the sacrifice and opened the way into the holiest is by necessity the Mediator of the better covenant. The old covenant, not being able to pacify conscience and cleanse the heart of man, could not bring us into an eternal inheritance. But the eternal inheritance was what God had promised to the father of believers, Abraham. Yet none could possess it under the old covenant. This meant a further necessity for a new covenant.

The new covenant really existed from the beginning— for our Lord was slain, as it were, from before the foundation of the world, His sacrifice being already in the mind of God. The covenant is based on the rock of God’s unchangeable and eternal purpose. It must be clearly understood that this covenant, which is the believer’s safeguard, is not a covenant made with sinful man. The covenant of works was made with man, and was instantly broken. Such a violated treaty can be no plea before God. Through violation we are heirs of wrath.

The new covenant is made between the Father and the Son on our behalf. The Lord Jesus stands before God as a second man in the place of the first man who had failed. God commits to His Son the terms of the covenant and the promises attached. The Father binds Himself to these terms and makes promises. Thus the Father, in His office as God, pledges Himself to those who shall be saved. His Son, in His office as Mediator, pledges, on our behalf, to fulfill the terms of the covenant, and so make us inheritors of the pledged promises.

God’s terms are that man be cleansed from all sin and be clothed in all righteousness—thoroughly renewed and acceptable to God in every way. The Lord Jesus undertakes to present before God such a people, and will Himself be responsible for the full performance of the work. God promises to be their God; Christ promises that they shall be His people.

This covenant has the promise, then, of an eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15). This is what God promised Abraham and David. Our Lord’s sacrifice was designed not only to take away the sins of new covenant believers but also those of true believers under the old covenant. Those believers of old, therefore, have not perished.

The new covenant was ratified by death (Hebrews 9:16-17). The ancient method of making covenants was to place a slain victim between two parties. The covenant was ratified over a dead body—meaning that any breach of it would issue in the death of the one who breached it. So the Lord Jesus has atoned for our sins by His death. In that death the old covenant is honored, but a new covenant is now established.

This everlasting covenant was confirmed to Moses (Hebrews 9:18-22). The idea of substitution was never absent from ancient God-given rites. You see that in the coats of skins given Adam and Eve, in Abraham’s offering Isaac, in the ram’s taking the place of Isaac, and so many more. The breach of the old covenant made with man teaches us that we are sinners condemned to death. The glory of the new covenant is that God accepts a Substitute, even His own beloved Son, who met all the demands of that broken covenant, and established believers in a new and better covenant.

The Efficacious Sacrifice

First, the sacrifice of our Lord cleanses heavenly things (Hebrews 9:23-24). These heavenly things are explained by the pattern—Israel’s people, the earthly tabernacle, the vessels of ministry. All heavenly things needed to be meet for us, and we made meet for Heaven. Our Lord’s sacrifice preserves from that which would defile. Our presence in Heaven would defile it except that the Lord Jesus appears in the presence of God for us. Thus when we follow Him into Heaven no dishonor is done. The Lord is there on God’s behalf and on our behalf. Thus the sacrifice of Christ prepares Heaven for us, and prepares us for Heaven.

Secondly, the sacrifice of our Lord deals with the root of sin (Hebrews 9:25-26). In the old economy, the sacrifices of Jewry had to be repeated, and they could be repeated only if the land produced enough bullocks and goats. With our Lord, His sacrifice was so complete and efficacious that it would never have to be repeated. It was too excellent to be repeated. There were millions of bulls and goats but only one Son of God. He could die but once. The Jewish high priests came out of the earthly tabernacle each year looking for more bulls and goats, but Christ abides in the heavenly tabernacle forever, His object having been fully accomplished.

Thirdly, the sacrifice of our Lord prepares us for His return (Hebrews 9:27-28). When our Lord came “to bear the sins of many,” He could be offered only once.

But the apostle warns these indolent Hebrew Christians of His reappearance, and that this reappearance will not be after the manner of the Jewish high priests who reappeared after being in the earthly tabernacle. They came out to offer new sacrifices. Our Lord’s reappearance means the receiving of His saints and the destruction of His enemies. He is to appear without any sin offering—that is, not for the purpose of making sacrifice for sins again.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea;
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in Heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

Behold Him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

Charitie Lees Bancroft