There have been attempts by some to ignore the words of Jesus when on the cross He declared, ‘It is finished,’ and claim that the Old Covenant continued in force until AD 70. The motivation behind this position is called ‘preterism’ and seeks to declare that all New Testament prophecy about the second coming of the Lord was fulfilled at the destruction of Herod’s temple in AD 70. A so called ‘proof text’ for this thinking is found in Hebrews 8:13.
In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8:13)
The unfortunate interpretation by some is that the writer of Hebrews is speaking in the present tense and thus admitting that the old covenant is ‘growing old,’ but is still alive at the writing of the book of Hebrews and has not yet vanished away. Is this accurate?
A quick glance at Hebrews, chapter 8 should clear this up.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah….. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Heb. 8:7-10)
The author is quoting the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 31, verses 31-34. This declaration of God about the Old Covenant and the New was made some 600 years before Christ! The writer of Hebrews is demonstrating that the old covenant was becoming obsolete and growing old 600 years before Jesus came. Let’s look at Hebrews 8:13 again.
“In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
When did this statement have meaning? When God spoke of ‘a new covenant,’ 600 years before Christ came! From the time that God declared the coming of a New Covenant, the first was obsolete, growing old, and ready to vanish away.
When did it vanish away? Not in AD 70 as some would say. It vanished away when Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’ The cross is the end of the old and the beginning of the new, not the destruction of a building 40 years later.