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Superior promises

Now if he were on earth, he wouldn’t be a priest, since there are those offering the gifts prescribed by the law. These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, “Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.” But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been established on better promises. Hebrews 8:4-6 CSB

Jesus Christ’s ministry as High Priest was and is being done in heaven. Verse 4 emphasizes that Jesus’ effective work as a priest did not happen on earth. As we read previously, because He was not part of the Aaronic lineage, according to the Mosaic law, Jesus was not part of the correct line to serve as an earthly priest. Yet, Jesus was perfectly qualified to be our High Priest in heaven. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin on earth, resurrected, and ascended to heaven to continue His ministry as the heavenly High Priest. In verse 5, the earthly work of the priests serves only “as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” A shadow is a close reflection of an original object with some distortion. The work of the Levitical priests was a glimpse of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Although this was the case, God still gave explicit commands for this earthly ministry. The quotation here used is from Exodus 25:40, to remind the readers that God is control of every detail of His plan. “Be careful to make them according to the pattern you have been shown on the mountain.” Also, if the work of the earthly priests were held in such high regard to the readers, then how much more should the readers hold Christ’s work as an eternal High Priest in heaven? Finally, in verse 6, the author declares that Christ’s ministry is a” superior ministry,” because it is established on “better promises.” We will see more later in Hebrews 8:10-12 on what these “better promises” are, but regardless, the new covenant established by Jesus is better because the promises are better. Not only that, but Christ will personally serve as the “mediator,” working between the Father and us. And remember, Christ is the only way to the Father. He is the only mediator. The promises of the old covenant went together with the law of Moses; new covenant promises include God’s law put in the minds and written on the hearts of his people, the teaching of knowledge of the Lord, and the forgiveness of sin.


Isaac De Guzman


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