You are here:

Seventh-Day Adventists/Hebrews 8:13 refers to the ceremonial law


Dear Sal:

Hebrews 8:13 refers to the ceremonial law that is obsolete. This is proved by Hebrews 9:1-2. "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary." You see the obsolete covenant has ordinances of worship, a sanctuary, etc. All ceremonial things. The Sabbath is not among the obsolete things. Hebrews 8:13 leads into 9:1 thus the obsolete thing is the ceremonial law not the Sabbath.

Please consider this from the Bible.


Dear Brother Martin:

In this answer I will use the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible for all Bible quotations.

Hebrews 8:13 reads, "In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." Therefore,  what is obsolete is "the first one" which in context is the first covenant. There is no such thing as a ceremonial covenant. There are ceremonial and moral laws all of which are part and parcel of the covenant that Scripture calls the first covenant (Hebrews 8:7; 9:1, 15, 18) or the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 8:6). This is the same covenant made at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:7-8; Nehemiah 9:13-14). This now obsolete covenant had as its basis the Ten Commandments which included the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 4:13; Exodus 34:28).

In Hebrews 9:1 and following it is true that the Paul mentions ceremonial items associated with worship; however, don't fail to notice that he also mentions "the tablet of the covenant" (v. 4) as belonging to this covenant that he has just called "obsolete" in the last verse of chapter 8. I'm sure that you know that the Letter to the Hebrews is about the better things available in the New Covenant in Christ. In Hebrews 9 Paul emphasizes the fact that Jesus is a better priest than the Old Covenant priests and a better sacrifice than the Old Covenant sacrifices.

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (vs. 11-14).

Paul emphasizing the priesthood and the sacrifices doesn't mean that only these things are obsolete (recall 9:4 "the tablets of the covenant"). Paul's point is that Jesus is a better priest and a better sacrifice replacing the Old Covenant preisthood and sacrifices. Those things were essential to the Old Covenant. Since Jesus replaced them, the Old Covenant that depended on them became obsolete. "For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well" (Hebrews 7:12). Of course, the Scripture that plainly says the first or Old Covenant is obsolete cannot be ignored.  "In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13). Nor can we ignore what Scripture plainly says is the first or Old Covenant.

"Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone" (Deuteronomy 4:12-13).

This includes the Sabbath commandment which makes it obsolete as well. In fact earlier in Hebrews Paul explained the obsolescence of the Old Covenant 7th day Sabbath (see chapters 3 & 4).  "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). Does Paul here mean the Old Covenant 7th day Sabbath? No. Hebrews is about the better things the New Covenant has to offer compared with the Old Covenant. The New Covenant has a better Sabbath rest.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus offers a better rest than the Old Covenant. Jesus offers a rest for the soul. A rest that is an eternal, heavenly rest. A rest that the 7th day Sabbath could only foreshadow.  

Thank you for the comment.

God Bless You,
Brother Sal  

Seventh-Day Adventists

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I am privileged to be able to offer an alternative insight into the complicated world of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) theology. I will rely heavily on the Bible, but will also consider history and use logic in exposing deficiencies in SDA teachings. I would ask anyone who is considering becoming a SDA or if you are already in the SDA church, but are searching for the truth, to please allow me to offer a different explanation for the claims of the SDA. Remember : "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I can answer your questions pertaining to the beliefs and history of the SDA. I am not able to answer questions concerning spirituality or church discipline.


I have extensively studied the theology of the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) for a number of years. I have many books and tape sets produced by experts in this field of study. I have debated current members of the SDA church. I have a great desire to help these people see the truth.

M.S. degree in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics

©2016 All rights reserved.