Heb 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Heb 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
The Land of Promise
What was “the promise” that they “received not”?
Heb 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
Again, They did not receive the land of promise.
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
So these all “received not the promise, God provided some better thing” But again the “better thing” mentioned in verse 40 is now more clearly seen here:
Heb 11:16 But now they desire a ***better country***, that is, ***an heavenly***: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Now this better promise was given to all of the Patriarchs and Prophets who would accept the promise of His Spirit by grace through faith. It was called “a better covenant“.
Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
And this covenant and promise was “the promise” given to Abraham “that he should be the heir of the world”(Rom 4:13). It was not a covenant that was first made in AD 31. It was ratified and confirmed in AD 31, but the promise and covenant was given even to Adam and Eve.
“The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden”(PP 370)
It was also given to Abraham, and even though at Sinai the law was given 430 years later to Israel, and Israel making their own promise of works “All that the LORD has said we will do and be obedient”, God could not make these promises of of the new covenant of no effect.(Gal 3:16, 17) and could not disannul the new covenant which was given to Abraham. That was the only covenant by which men could be saved. Their covenant was faulty.
Fault Found with the Promises of the People
(6) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
(7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
(8) For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
So with the Covenant at Sinai, God found fault with the promises. Clearly this would not be a Covenant that God would make since God’s promises could not be faulty. God accepted the promise of the people.
Exo 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
If God had promised to hold them up, keep them, protect them, fight for them, and then they said “we will do it” and all that He said he would do, what would this type of promise mean regarding the better promise and covenant that was already made? These promises by the people would prove worthless within a few weeks when they would be guilty of idolatry. I found a fault with it, and it is no wonder that God found fault with them.
“We Will Do” or “He Will Do”? Works or Grace?
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The law only pointed out the sin. The people in their bondage made a covenant of works, not realizing their need to depend on God’s “PROMISES” and merely say “Amen” to the promise God had already made that he would put His Spirit in them and do in them what He had promised. Instead because of a lack of knowledge of the power and grace of God, they attempted to fulfill the law by their own power and they did not accept the covenant through the blood of Christ that he had already given to Abraham and was offering to them.(Deu 5:2, 3, Exo 6:3-8)
Question: How many are still making this same covenant today? Did people stop making this covenant of works in AD 31? It’s apparent that the two covenants have ran parallel since the fall of man and man still makes this same covenant today which will only bring bondage to sin.
The better covenant is the covenant with the promise that Abraham received from God by faith which is to be the heir of the world.(Romans 4:13) This is the only covenant by which we can be made free from bondage. The other covenant is a covenant of works, slavery and bondage to sin.
Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Gal 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
This is the covenant of grace through faith. All those heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 were under this “better” covenant and have been given the same “better thing”, the same “promise”, none have yet to receive the inheritance until the coming of Christ, till the seed should come to whom “the promise” was made(Gal 3:19) to receive that “promise” with us who are joint-heirs of that same promise given to Abraham that we are to be heirs of the world.
Rom 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
In order to have been heirs they first had to be born of Spirit, becoming children of God, sons of God, born of God, receiving the promise of the Spirit. All these must have received this part of the promise. The down payment on the inheritance. Some today would teach that it was impossible to be “born again” before the cross, or it was impossible to be “born of Spirit” before the cross. How then were they saved? By works? By the law? They couldn’t unless they had received the “better promises” and the “better covenant”.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The adoption as children comes from the Spirit of promise “the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father”(Gal 4:6) and become sons of God, heirs of the promise.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.(That they without us should not be made perfect)
Why Was the Other Covenant Formed at Sinai if it Wasn’t Needed?
The following commentary is from the book “Patriarchs and Prophets” by Ellen G. White.
“But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai? In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him. He brought them down to the Red Sea–where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible–that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God and with confidence in His power to help them. He had bound them to Himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage.
But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God’s law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught.
God brought them to Sinai; He manifested His glory; He gave them His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke ***their covenant*** with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant.”(Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 371-372)
God tried to bring them out of bondage, but the people made a covenant that brought them back into bondage because of their lack of knowledge of God, bondage to sin. Could they be heirs while still slaves in bondage to sin?
(34) Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
(35) And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
The slave doesn’t inherit the house, the Son does. You cannot be a slave and a son at the same time. You must receive the Spirit of “adoption”. Then you will truly be a child of Abraham. A heir according to the promise. It doesn’t matter what time period you live in, whether before or after the cross, the way of salvation has always been the same, the covenant has always been there.
Gal 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
After a time where they had fell they were ready to appreciate the Covenant of Grace through faith, being no more slaves, but Sons of God.
Exo 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
This is the child that came out of the loins of Isaac second, but yet was the firstborn of Spirit of God by “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. “(Gal 4:26).
God has never offered a covenant where we are required to do something to be saved. He has offered us the power always and is always the same, yesterday, today and forever and we have always had the opportunity to depend on his grace and power alone to have victory over sin.
Heb 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Heb 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Heb 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
It is only by coming to Jesus that any could ever have been made free, and that freedom has been had by every patriarch and prophet who has looked for that “better country” through faith in God’s covenant of grace, the new covenant, each one being bought by the blood of Jesus.