I’ve decided today to search out how other churches understand Hebrews and the oath and covenant described there. So, here are a few things I found interesting, mostly just cut & pasted for now (from here and here):
- We also find a different kind of covenant in the Bible. It is a covenant in which God binds Himself to do certain things, but not conditioned upon the actions of others. In the case of the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to make a great nation of Abram, and to bless his seed greatly, and thus he and his offspring would become a blessing to others. This was an unconditional covenant, and in addition, it was a covenant that was confirmed by God’s oath. Thus, it was an unchangeable covenant.
- Isaiah prophesied of a new covenant constantly
15 Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When a covenant has been ratified, even though it is only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise (Galatians 3:15-17).
Both Israel and Judah would be restored and forgiven, not on the basis of the Old, Mosaic Covenant, but on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant. The promises of the New Covenant are then spelled out by Jeremiah in 31:
31 “Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. 33 “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. 34 “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Further confirmation follows in the next chapter of Jeremiah:
The New Covenant is one that will be fulfilled in the future, Jeremiah assures us, for “the days are coming” when this covenant will be completed. This covenant is with the “house of Israel” and with “the house of Judah.” Since the kingdom was divided at this point in time, the two kingdoms will have to be re-united. More than this, since the northern kingdom of Israel had been carried off and dispersed by the Assyrians,6 this would be no small miracle.
- (This is interesting to me:)
I would understand the “time of Jacob’s distress” to be the time of the Great Tribulation. I believe that the church has been “grafted into” the blessings of the New Covenant, and that it will be after the “fullness of the Gentiles” is complete that God will turn, once again, to the nation Israel, bringing her to repentance and to salvation, in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.
- (I’m realizing that some of these interpreters see the Old Covenant as being unable to ever bring people into the presence of God, and therefore anyone living before Christ was unable to comprehend or receive that blessing. (Though Christ’s work retroactively fixes that problem.) I think I see now why D&C 84 is clear that Moses tried to teach his people according to the Melchizedek priesthood how to enter into God’s rest, but they refused, and therefore therefore an imperfect covenant was left with them. I also found it interesting that some interpreters connected the new covenant with the Abrahamic covenant, which seems spot-on to me.)
- Now this is huge. The author of Hebrews is not satisfied to say, that now that Christ has come, His sacrifice serves as the atoning sacrifice, as the atoning offering for all of God’s people present and future for the work of Christ. He wants you to understand that Christ’s sacrifice actually works proleptically. It works backwards in time, as well as, forwards in time. So that Christ’s sacrifice is not only the sacrifice for all of those who are under the New Covenant, but is actually the real sacrifice that brought about union with God, under the Old Covenant, and the Old Covenant sacrificial system was merely a shadow of that real sacrifice. This is why Hebrews is the key book in the New Testament to teach you how to understand typology, because it teaches us that the relationship between Old Testament shadows, and New Testament realities.
- Not just that the Old Testament is predicting something that is going to come, but it is that the effectiveness of the Old Testament system itself is dependent upon the heavenly reality of the work of Christ, which is fulfilled in time, after the Old Testament event, but because it is a heavenly reality, it already has significance before it actually occurs in time. And that is why the author of Hebrews can so confidently say, all the Old Testament sacrifices offered from here to here could not forgive sins, and yet at the same time, could be so confident that all the believers in God, from here to here, were indeed accepted in God, because Christ’s heavenly work pertained to them, just like it pertains to us. Now that is mind-boggling stuff. But it is rich. So it is worth pondering.