Posted On September 29, 2020

A Faultless Covenant

by | Sep 29, 2020 | Hebrews, Featured

Hebrews 8:7, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.”

Hebrews 8 tells us that the priesthood of Christ is superior to the priesthood of Aaron because the covenant that Christ mediates is a better covenant (v. 6). The new covenant is not better than the old one because it has different promises. Rather, it is a better covenant because as the new covenant, God no longer gives incomplete revelation through His prophets but has come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to complete His revelation directly (1:1–3a).

But even though the promises of the old covenant and the new covenant are fundamentally the same, there was a “problem” with the old covenant. In some senses, it was lacking. This is made clear in 8:7, which tells us that “if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” The old covenant had faults. It was only a provisional administration. This is not to say that the old covenant did not reveal God’s perfection. After all, the Law is “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12).

In what sense then do we find fault with the old covenant? The faults can be seen in a variety of complementary ways. The first has already been suggested in previous studies, namely, the incompleteness of the old covenant revelation (Heb. 1:1–2). In Christ we have a faultless covenant because He fulfills and transcends all that is found in the old covenant. He is the reality, only seen under the administration of the old covenant in a provisional and shadowy form.

A second fault found in the old covenant results from its provisional nature. John Owen comments on this verse that “the discussion is not about whether the first covenant was in itself holy, just, good, and in every way perfect as far as its own goals were concerned. If nothing more were required of the old covenant and it could have completely sanctified the church, it would have been perfect. But it was not, as it had never been designed for this purpose.” In other words, the old covenant did achieve its goal, for the goal of the Law was never to bring perfection. Rather, its goal was to point us to the one who would bring perfection, and it was faultless in achieving that goal (Gal. 3:24). But fault is found with the old covenant because the hope for perfection does not compare to the new covenant reality of the perfection that Christ will finally bring to the world.

Coram Deo

It is tempting to think that old covenant saints found the life of faith much easier to live than we do. However, as we have seen, the days of prophets and kings had only an incomplete and provisional revelation. If you are tempted to think that the days of old were better, remember that we live in the day of more full revelation.

A Faultless Covenant, Copyright (2020), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

Naked and Unashamed

Naked and Unashamed

Genesis 2:24-25, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” As Moses concludes his narrative on the creation of Adam and Eve, he...

How to Study Scripture to Show Yourself Approved to God

How to Study Scripture to Show Yourself Approved to God

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “How can we study Scripture to show ourselves approved?” What You'll Hear on this Episode The Context of 2 Timothy 2:15. What 2 Timothy 2:15 means. Whether 2 Timothy 2:15 means we can earn our way into heaven....

Taken Out of Man

Taken Out of Man

Genesis 2:21-23, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the...

Our Greatest Need

Our Greatest Need

On today’s For Life and Godliness show, Drew considers knowing our great need of Christ, how to be sure you are known by God, and availing yourself of the means of grace. What you’ll hear in this episode Critically assessing our needs versus our ultimate need for...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.