It was the Spring of 2000 and I was settling into a ministry in a new location. Our church had a professional level copier/printer/fax machine and I had just purchased a new computer. Our office was networked so the machines could communicate with one another but I was having trouble getting the machines to cooperate. A man on my staff, more tech savvy than myself thank goodness, was helping fix the problem when a precious older gentleman from the church entered the office and asked what we were doing. After looking at our setup he suggested that we climb into the attic of the church and pull down the mimeograph machine and go back making copies like they did in the good ole days (if you don’t know what a mimeograph machine is, imagine original printing press only smaller). What he didn’t understand was the possibilities of the new technology- which were realized shortly after he left the office. The new technology made the old obsolete.
Hebrews 813 is speaking about an old covenant and a new covenant when it says, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.” The old covenant is the law and is testified to in the Old Testament. The New Testament communicates to us the new covenant. We know the new covenant as the gospel, the message of grace, the message of Jesus and the message of salvation. The new covenant overrides the old covenant. The new covenant makes the old covenant obsolete.
My illustration breaks down so I want to finish with a bit of commentary in order to help us all rejoice over the wonder of the new covenant. The gospel of God’s grace is not just a little better than the old covenant (the law). The law was for the Jews. The gospel is for the world. The old covenant could only show men their need of salvation. It was actually incapable of saving. Jesus saves to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). The work of trying to keep the law was never complete. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” Under the old covenant men were uncertain of their eternal state. Because of the new covenant John writes, “These things have I written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).”
Praise God for the new covenant!