In his death, Jesus inaugurated the promised and vastly superior new covenant, rendering the old one obsolete.
According to Hebrews, the “word of the Son” surpasses all past revelations “spoken in the prophets.” He went beyond his predecessors, having “achieved the purification of sins,” and therefore, he “sat down” at the right hand of God and inherited “all things.” And among other things, his exaltation signaled the commencement of the “new covenant.”
Some members of the congregation were considering leaving the church and returning to the local synagogue to avoid increasing pressure and potential persecution. To combat this temptation, Hebrews demonstrates the vast superiority of what God has accomplished in His Son over the old Levitical regulations.
In the process, the epistle contrasts the everlasting priesthood, the new covenant, and the once-for-all sacrifice of the Son with the multiple priests, obsolete covenant, and repeated animal sacrifices of the old order.
In the scriptures, God promised the new priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek.” That declaration demonstrated that the Aaronic priesthood could not achieve the “purification of sins,” otherwise, there would be no need for this new order. Under the old code, the people received the law with its regulations for sacrifices and the priesthood. However, the promise of a new order of priests also meant “a change of law” – (Hebrews 7:11-14).
The old priesthood was dependent on lineal descent and multiple generations of priests due to human mortality, but the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” is perpetual since it is based on the endless resurrection life of the “Son.” Unlike the Aaronic priests, the Son was installed by the oath of God (“The Lord swore and will not regret: You are a priest everlastingly”), and therefore, his priesthood is perpetual and not “transmissible” – (Hebrews 7:15-22).
And thus, Jesus also is the “guarantor of a better covenant,” and he is well able to save his “brethren” to the uttermost since he “lives evermore to intercede for them” – (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7:19-25).
Unlike his predecessors, he “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens” and became the minister of “the Real Tabernacle,” not a temporary tent “made-by-hand.” The Levitical system with its animal sacrifices constituted only “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” therefore, it could never cleanse the “conscience” of sin – (Hebrews 8:1-6).
Having attained a more distinguished ministry, he became the “mediator of a better covenant legislated upon better promises.” And if the “first covenant” had been faultless, there would have been no need for the second one. However, having found fault with it, the Lord announced the coming days when He would “conclude a new covenant” with His people – (Hebrews 8:7-13).
In Hebrews, the promised “new covenant” is expressly stated NOT to be “according to the covenant” made at Sinai. It is not a “renewed” or modified version of the Law given at Sinai, but instead, it is an entirely new covenant that is well able to achieve the “purification of sins.” Under it, all citizens of the kingdom know God for His righteous requirements have been inscribed on their hearts.
By establishing the “new covenant,” Jesus “made the first one obsolete,” which means the covenant established at Sinai ceased to be in effect for God’s people because of the superior sacrifice and priestly office of the “Son.”
Since the “new covenant” achieved the “purification of sins” and “cleansed the conscience” of the believer, its benefits far surpass those of the old Levitical code.
To return to the old system would mean abandoning the supreme benefits of the new one established by the exalted Son of God. Not only so but forsaking the assembly after one has received the knowledge of the truth is tantamount to “trampling underfoot the Son of God and the blood of the covenant.” The Lord will judge His people, and in the end, the apostate will find just what a “fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of a Living God.”
Thus, returning to the old order to avoid suffering and persecution is not an option.