For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
We know from yesterday’s reading in Hebrews (9:1-14), “this reason” in today’s reading is Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. And, more specifically, his sacrifice of his body and blood versus the sacrifice of goats and bulls that the priests performed under the old covenant to redeem the people from their transgressions against God and his laws.
In these verses for today both of the words “covenant” and “will” are translated from one Greek word, “diatheke.” In the ancient Near Eastern world a covenant required an animal sacrifice before it became binding, hence a death. We are more familiar today with wills and how they operate. As we know, a person’s will does not take effect or become enacted until the death of the person. At which time that person’s “will” is carried out and their desires written in their will are put in place.
In studying this and attempting to figure out what the writer of Hebrews is saying, it appears to me that two critical and life giving things have occurred with Jesus’ sacrificial death. We have been redeemed from our transgressions under the first covenant of God’s law, i.e. our debt has been paid. Further, God’s will has been put into effect and his “will” or desire that we be reconciled to him has been carried out.
All of this has been done by his actions and will. All we can do is accept this gift of his and live into this new covenant with grateful hearts and try to show his love to the world. May we all live into this wonderful covenant our Lord has blessed us with.
You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Amen.
- Psalm 119:65, 66