The packaging is more colorful, the content is said to be far and away so much better than the old product, and millions of dollars in advertising will be spent to convince you that this “new and improved” product is an absolute “must have” if you are going to have any happiness in your life!
And yet, “New Coke” was a colossal failure.
My home town is Atlanta and the Coca-Cola company reigns supreme. Why, any self-respecting Atlantan wouldn’t be caught with a Pepsi in his hand! But we all had to cringe a bit during the “New Coke” craze. Frankly, it was embarrassing. Thank God it didn’t last too long and the tried and true “Original Formula” was trotted back into the marketplace! Whew, that was a close call.
A lot of marketing of consumer products in this country is just so much bluster all meant to separate you from your money. It’s nothing but smoke and mirrors and sharp advertising that really doesn’t deliver on the promises the marketing makes. No wonder the old saying is “buyer beware!”
But sometimes better really is better.
Look at our Lesson today in Hebrews 8:1-6:
Brethren, we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, he has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
This is why we Christians still hold on to and cherish the Hebrew scriptures of our Jewish past! The scriptures, wisdom, beauty, and massive icon of God’s love that is the Hebrew scriptures is such a treasure house of insight and beauty and wisdom that to remain ignorant of these holy scriptures is tantamount to choosing slavery over freedom. And the main reason for this is that these holy scriptures reveal to us the lengths that our loving God goes to to bring us back to Himself.
The crushing and cosmic tragedy of the Garden of Eden when our first parents misused their hunger and their desire for truth to sell creation into slavery, was so thoroughly pervasive that we really needed, no, actually Required, the whole Old Testament system of Temple, Commandments, Sacrifices, and Levitical Priesthood, times of slavery, and times of freedom, stories of heroes and heroines, prophets, priests, kings, wars, murder, mayhem, shame, sin and repentance, to show us just how cosmically tragic this “fall” in the Garden really was. We need this story to show us and bring us to the fulfillment of all those promises in the Old Testament by the time we get to an Archangel visiting a Young Woman in the Temple.
Let’s face it, some mistakes require severe remedial training!
Those who lived before Christ came, look forward to the time Christ came. Those of us who live after Christ came, look back to the time Christ came. Regardless of when we are, we look to Christ. Because Christ makes real the promise of all those Old Testament lesson and shows us the true meaning of all that gracious and God inspired wisdom that finally brought Christ to our world.
We will never fully appreciate the “better” covenant Jesus gives us, and the “better” promises He makes to and for us, if we ignore and dismiss the wonders, wisdom, and beauty of His “First” Testament to us.
Today, if you are really ever going to have the spiritual foundation to persevere in living a purposeful Orthodox Christian life, you are going to need the spiritual nourishment of the Old Testament and this abundant spiritual wisdom. Take a moment and make it a habit to read and contemplate the scriptures in the front of your Bible. You will never fully appreciate how much “better” the Good News of Jesus really is without a strong familiarity with this timeless wisdom meant to make you Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Today we remember St. Paul the Confessor and Patriarch of Constantinople. St. Paul was martyred by the Arians in the 4th century because they feared his defense of the Orthodox Faith and the love the people had for him.