Better Oath and Better Covenant: Hebrews 7:18-22
“18) For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19) (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20) And inasmuch as it was not without an oath 21) (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’ ”); 22) so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” Hebrews‬ ‭7:18-22‬
We now come to a text which is a bit hard to follow. An oath is only as good as the one who makes it. When it comes to the priesthood of Aaron, it was man making an oath to keep the Law. It was weak and worthless, because the human effort needed to keep the Law was only as good as human nature. The whole system was based on human depravity.
Even though the book of Leviticus gave much detail about the duties of the priesthood and how to perform their service, the Law made nothing perfect. Nothing in the system changed the human heart or made people better. It didn’t make the priests better and it didn’t make the people better. The goal of the sacrificial system was to cover human sin and failure and not to change people. There was nothing in the Covenant that gave the inner power to change the human heart.
But the priesthood that Jesus entered into was based on an oath from God. (See Hebrews 7:20-21) He ushered in a better hope, based on a better sacrifice which was able to draw people to God. Jesus became the guarantee of a better covenant. Faith in Him can and does radically change people.
Many older Bibles make this point by calling the divisions “The Old Covenant” and “The New Covenant”, rather than “The Old Testament” and “The New Testament.” I like that language better. The old was based on human effort, the new is based on Divine effort.
The New Covenant is based on a better promise. A very simple way of looking at this is by reviewing the promise in John 3:16-17; “16) For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17) For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Nothing even close to these two verses are found in the Old Covenant. Notice that God was the One at work! He was about to do for man what man could never do for himself. As Hebrews 7:22 says; “so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” Why is it better?
Because Acts 1:4-5 includes another oath or promise from God. Faith in Jesus through the gospel not only brings forgiveness, it also brings the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The New Covenant includes the inner fuel to change the human heart.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global