In part 4, I said that all popular translations have read Hebrews 8:6-7 as referring to two covenants. I further showed the two covenants are generally understood as the Old Testament part of the Bible and the New Testament portion of the Bible.
In this post, I will discuss why “tabernacles” makes more sense in translation of the Hebrews 8:6-7 passage and shapes more accurately the purpose of the upcoming midrash. It’s focus is to contrast how the two tabernacles’ deal with sin.
Chapters 5, 6 and 7 is a midrash on Psalm 2:7 and 110:4. It demonstrates Yeshua is the promised eternal High Priest. So, having established a High Priest on a new Promise, now He will need a Tabernacle.
The writer begins a new midrash covering the functions of both tabernacles in chapters 8, 9 and 10. The Midrash is rooted in the words of the Torah, Exodus 25:40, and expanded by Jeremiah 31 (see Hebrews 8:5, 8-12). Yeshua needs a different tabernacle since the Mosaic, earthly tabernacle already has a high priest. Yeshua wasn’t meant to officiate in that one. Yeshua came to pass through this world, die, and be resurrected, in order that He could obtain the Heavenly Tabernacle to deal with human Sin once for all time.
It may be said that the quote of Jeremiah is concerned about the New Covenant, not tabernacles. But the writer is doing midrash, so context matters, not just the quoted text itself.
Jeremiah 29-33 is a collection of prophecies of the promise of Israel’s and Judah’s return from exile (and I recommend you read that whole passage if you want to learn about how things will work in the Messianic Era). It has sign acts, promises, redemption from exile, and a restoration of worship and offering sacrifices in the Temple when the righteous Branch comes (see Jeremiah 31:13; 33:18). This passage concludes with the surety that these things will happen! This New Covenant promise shows a permanent restoration of the Mosaic tabernacle and it also promises something even better to come. Bear in mind, the majority of offerings/sacrifices in the Tabernacle/Temple have nothing to do with sin. When the Messiah comes and inaugurates the Messianic Era, Yeshua will be Immanuel (God with us)! We will be in His eternal presence and believers will have no need to offer sin offerings (See Hebrews 10:18); we can draw near to His Presence and offer our sacrifices blamelessly. Why? The New Covenant promises that the Torah will be on our hearts, and He will be with us!
We will be as one without sin before and because of Yeshua!
Yeshua entered the Heavenly Tabernacle and once for all time took care of sin; our conscience before HaShem. I believe the earthly tabernacle will have no practical need for sin offerings from resurrected believers during the Messianic Era. When we identify Hebrews 8:6-7 to “tabernacles”, it specifies the purpose for each one. Use of “Covenants” is too vague to identify the actual halakhah that Hebrews 8-10 is resolving. With my translation, we can better focus on the earthly tabernacle’s only actual weakness; the repeated sin offerings that cannot make us eternally pure, to live eternally in HaShem’s presence. Lastly, using the substantive adjectives in 8:6-7 as “tabernacles”, not “covenants”, honors equally ALL of HaShem’s covenants with His Creation rather than rendering them ALL obsolete after the New Covenant! What do you think?
You can see my translation of Hebrews 8:6-8a in Part 4 of this series.