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The NEW COVENANT Doesn’t Abolish God’s Law

 

Introduction

 

Does the New Covenant negate God’s law and do away with any need to obey the Ten Commandments and other laws of God?  The belief that it does has long been a popular teaching in traditional Christianity.  We’ll thoroughly examine this question in this booklet.  Even more important, we’ll address the real purpose of God’s biblical covenants---more than one---and their vital role in the Creator’s overall plan for mankind.  It’s highly important that we understand the true meaning of the Bible’s covenants.

          The structure of the Bible is organized around a series of covenants---what we might call contracts or agreements---that reveal and describe the relationship God would like to have with every human being.  These covenants reveal God’s promises.  They also define the conditions that every person must meet to receive the blessings of those promises.  God’s covenants are the foundation of His divine plan to properly shape the way all people should think and behave. 

          God has a specific goal in mind.  The final result of His plan is a divine family of sons and daughters who have developed the same righteous character that was evident in Jesus Christ when He was with mankind as a human being.  That character can be created only through an interactive process that takes place between each individual and God.  It is a very personal process.  And God’s covenants define the key elements of that process. 

 

Freedom of choice essential for building righteous character

 

But it is impossible to build righteous character without freedom of choice.  Forcing someone to obey a set of laws or rules against one’s will does not build righteous character in anyone, even if those laws are the reflection of perfect righteousness.  Forcing obedience merely creates an atmosphere of fear and ultimately rebellion.  Also without freedom of choice, people, individuals are not given a chance to learn by experience.  It has been said, experience is not the best teacher, but it is the most thorough teacher.  But the age-old trouble with mankind as a whole, is that we can never seem to learn from our wrong choices.  Since Adam and Eve, when our ‘freedom of choice’ began, freedom to choose God’s ways or one’s own ways, history shows us that mankind, empire by empire, nation by nation, has gone into a downward spiral into its own doom and oblivion.  This is the direct result of mankind in general choosing their own ways instead of putting their trust in God’s instructions and guidance (called God’s Law). 

 

One by one, God’s covenants reverse the consequences of man’s wrong choices

 

God’s covenants, interestingly, when combined reveal God’s master-plan for reversing this incredibly destructive pattern of wrong choices.  There is a problem though.  Mankind left on his own, left to his own devices, historically, has never chosen to follow God’s guidance (as expressed through his laws).  Even when he knows what is right, mankind as a whole has demonstrated a complete inability to follow God’s guidance.  Even when that guidance, his laws, have been handed to man “on a silver platter” so to speak, he has demonstrated a complete inability to follow them.  As we will see, God’s Old Covenant agreement with the nation of Israel handed God’s laws, his guidance for successfully living, to that nation “on a silver platter.”  They were unable to follow them for any extended period of time, even when they wanted to (read Judges, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings and 1st & 2nd Chronicles).  But in the end, the combined covenants of God will end up reversing the consequences of mankind’s wrong choices.  We hope to demonstrate that in this booklet. 

 

There is a missing dimension in man’s mental capability

 

As history proves, there has been a missing dimension in the thinking and reasoning ability in all of mankind.  Our minds were created incomplete.  And this is in spite of our incredible capacity to design and create whatever we imagine out of the chemicals found on earth, including the harnessing of all of the energy sources found not just on earth, but the universe.  Like our parent, God, we were given the awesome mental powers to create (Genesis 1:27).  But there remains a critical missing dimension in our thinking and thought process---a dimension that needs to be added to our minds so that we can properly control our thoughts and the actions they produce.  Without that missing dimension mankind has brought constant social, economic, agricultural and military destruction and decay into every single nation and empire that he has set up.  Even the nation of Israel, which had God’s perfect set of laws and guidance brought self-destruction on their nation.  This is the sad record of both Israel’s history and world history.  I challenge any self-respecting historian to disagree with me on that point. 

          So let’s now look into the various covenants God gave his servants.  And after that we will look at the key final covenant God gave mankind, the one which supplies this “missing dimension” the other covenants need in order to be properly utilized by mankind.

 

 

 

 

God’s Magnificent Series of Covenants

 

 

What is a covenant?

 

Generally speaking, a covenant is a long-term agreement between two or more parties that formalizes a binding relationship between them.  It defines their essential obligations and commitments to each other. 

          In ancient times, major covenants were ratified and kept alive through symbolic rituals that reflected each party’s commitment to, and acceptance of, the covenant’s binding requirements.  However, covenant rituals are not the same as covenant commitments and obligations.  Rituals in divine covenants serve primarily as symbolic reminders and are intentionally given only a figurative value.  The real value is in the substance of the commitments made.  Through the substance of His covenants---His divine commitments---God binds Himself to perform all of the promises He makes. 

          In a divine covenant, God defines the basic obligations that He imposes on Himself and, usually, on the other participants.  Thus a dominant feature of a covenant is a list of blessings that God promises to give to those who honor the covenant commitments.

 

Connection between the covenants

 

Jesus of Nazareth’s mission as Messiah directly linked the covenant promises made to Abraham and King David to him.  Matthew 1:1, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”  We will also see as God fulfilled his promises in the Abrahamic covenant, it created a need to make the Sinai or Old Covenant with Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites.

 

The covenant with Abraham

 

This Abrahamic covenant, as we’ll see, contains three key elements for God’s plan of salvation for mankind:

 

          1) Institution of the kingdom of Israel, to come from Jacob’s 12      sons…“nations and kings to come from his loins.”

 

          2)  on the land of Israel, whose borders would be from the River     Egypt to the River Euphrates.

 

          3)  The birth of the Messiah, that one seed, through whom all        nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:18).

 

The Abrahamic covenant promises start out in Genesis 12. “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you;  and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed(Genesis 12:2-3).  Next let’s read Genesis 17:1-8 and flesh out this covenant a little more.   Genesis 17:1-8, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.  And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.  Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:  ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.  I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.  Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”  These covenant promises are re-iterated in Genesis 22.  Genesis 22:16-18, “‘By Myself I have sworn,’ says the LORD, ‘because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son---blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies [i.e. military chokepoints, like Gibraltar].  In your seed [singular] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.’”

 

The strange covenant ceremony between Abraham and God

 

Let’s go back to Genesis 15, to where God ratifies the Abrahamic covenant with Abraham in a strange covenant ratification ceremony common to Middle Eastern nations of the time.  God had promised Abraham as early on as Genesis 12 that he was going to make a mighty nation out of Abraham’s descendants, and yet poor Abraham didn’t have one child yet, and Sarah his wife had not been able to conceive.  In those days you didn’t just sign on a dotted line in this covenant making business.   Say you were two individuals making a covenant agreement. Abraham in verses 1-4 had been saying, ‘Hey look, I don’t even have a son.’  In verse 5, God said to Abraham “‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ [it had to be night]   And he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”  Abraham then asks, ‘How do I know you’re going to do this?’  That’s when God brings him through this ancient Middle Eastern covenant making ceremony, which Abraham must have known about.  They didn’t just sign on a dotted line, it was a risky business to make this kind of covenant                 agreement.  They would take a couple of animals, sacrifice the animals, cutting them in two.  Then they would lay the animals out and make a path out of the animals inbetween their severed parts.  They’d cut a cow in two, push the pieces apart, cut a goat in two and make the pathway a little bit longer, and take other animals and do the same.  Then the two men making the covenant agreement would walk back-to-back one way through this path of severed animal parts, one man saying ‘I agree to abide by this covenant and agree to do my part, this, this, this and this.’   And then the other partner would say his part of the agreement, with both of them walking back the other way through the severed animal parts.  And then they both would say, ‘And if I do not do my part, you may cut me in two, just like we’ve cut these animals in two.’  Well, needless to say, not many people made these covenant agreements.  Verses 9-11 describe God telling Abraham to sacrifice and divide up these animals.  Then in verse 12 God, Yahweh, the pre-incarnate Christ does something very interesting.  ‘When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram.  And behold a terror and a great darkness fell upon him.  And God said [while Abram was in this God-induced sleep], ‘Abram, your descendants are going to be many for number, go and become slaves in a foreign land.  But after 400 years I will bring them out of that land and put them back in the promised land.  And they will remove all the inhabitants of the promised land, and I will give them that land forever.’  And that’s what God said.  Verse 17, ‘And when it came about, when the sun had set that it was very dark, behold there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between the pieces.  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants, to your seed I have given you all the inhabitants of the land and you can kick them out.’  So God made this covenant agreement with Abram.  And remember what we said about this covenant agreement, that both parties were supposed to go through the severed animal parts, both parties were supposed to state their part of the agreement, and then upon the penalty of being torn in two if they broke their end of the agreement?  God, Yahweh, the pre-incarnate Christ goes through, he is the smoking flaming torch.  God is in essence saying, ‘If I don’t do what I have said, you can tear me in two.’  But where’s Abram?  Abram’s flat on his back, incapacitated by this sleep that God put upon him.  Why7  Why isn’t Abraham walking through there?  Why isn’t Abraham doing his part in the agreement?  God is saying, ‘Abraham, I don’t want you walking through there because I know you couldn’t do your part.  I know you’d bring a curse upon yourself.  Abraham, everything that I’m promising I will do is to be based upon My faithfulness, not yours.’  And that’s the beginning of the story of the Israelites.  “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates---the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”  When you put all these Scriptures together it gives you the covenant promises defining the Abrahamic covenant.

 

Initial fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant

 

The first five books of the Bible, written by Moses, quite literally record God’s giving of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis chapters 12-22) and its first major fulfillment through the establishment of the theocratic kingdom of Israel (Genesis chapters 26-50; Exodus through Deuteronomy).  As a direct result of this initial fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, God needed to create another covenant with the now greatly expanded seed (multiple) of Abraham, which had become the nation and kingdom of Israel.  This covenant with Israel would contain a codified version of God’s Law, with the Ten Commandments at its core.  This codified Law of God would define once and for all the righteous way of life that God desires all peoples and nations of the world to embrace.  So the first major initial fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant produced the need for the creation of the Sinai or Old Covenant, God’s covenant with Israel made by God through Moses.  God through the Sinai Covenant was giving Abraham’s descendants the very laws, that if followed and adhered to, would create the same righteous character within them that God had created in Abraham. 

 

God’s covenant with David

 

The next covenant to consider between God and a specific person is His covenant with King David.  In it God promises that David’s dynasty will last forever and that the Messiah---David’s special descendant---is to be the everlasting King of that dynasty.  “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: ‘Your seed [singular] I will establish forever and build up your throne to all generations’” (Psalm 89:3-4).  God declares that this covenant will be irrevocable, “Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne’” (Jeremiah 33:20-21).  When the time came for the Messiah to be born, notice what the angel announced to the woman chosen to be his mother:  “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:30-33)…

 

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Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Moses?

 

Many people assume that the Ten Commandments and the covenant God established with ancient Israel are identical---and that they were both abolished by Jesus Christ’s death.  They believe that the Sinai Covenant and God’s commandments came into existence together and went out of existence together. 

          But is such reasoning biblical?  The facts show it is not.  A close look at the Scriptures reveals that breaking the Ten Commandments was a sin before the covenant at Mt. Sinai, so arguments that they came into existence with that covenant and were terminated with it cannot be true.  Let’s notice the Scriptural proof.  God’s Word defines sin as “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, KJV) or “lawlessness” (New King James Version, NIV).  Therefore, “where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15).  This is what the Bible clearly says!  So do we find “transgressions” of the Ten Commandments described as sinful before Mt. Sinai?  Clearly we do.  For example, Genesis 13:13 tells us that “the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.”  Since sin is violating God’s law, the people of Sodom could not have been punished for being wicked and sinful if no law condemned what they were doing.  We must conclude, therefore, that God had already made available the knowledge of what is sinful.  Here is a clear example.  Genesis 20:3-9 and 39:7-9 describe adultery as “a great sin” and a “sin against God.”  Adultery breaks the Seventh Commandment.  In Genesis 3:6 and 17, God punishes Adam and Eve for their coveting and stealing---breaking of the Tenth and Eighth Commandments.  They also dishonored Him as their parent, violating the Fifth Commandment.  In Genesis 4:9-12, God punishes Cain for murder and lying, violations of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments.  In Exodus 16:4, several days to several weeks before God established His covenant with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, we find God giving them a test to see “whether they will walk in My law or not.”  His test involved whether they would rest on the seventh-day Sabbath as He commanded in the Fourth Commandment of that law---with which they were partly familiar.  The seventh day had been hallowed---set aside as holy by God---from the time of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:1-3).  God’s reaction to their disobedience is revealing.  He exclaims, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28).  God clearly speaks of both His “commandments and…laws” as already existing and in force well before He listed he Ten Commandments verbally at Mt. Sinai, as described four chapters later!  Therefore the Ten Commandments were only codified---written in stone as part of a formal covenant---at Mt. Sinai.  Scripture clearly shows that they existed and were in force well before then.  This is stated explicitly in Genesis 26:5, where God tells Isaac that He blessed his father Abraham “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”  This event took place centuries before the covenant at Mt. Sinai, centuries before Moses and two generations before Judah, head of the tribe that much later would become known as the Jews, was born!  In Leviticus 18:21 and 27, God calls the idolatrous practices of the people of the land of Canaan “abominations”---actions so filthy and degrading that God compared their expulsion to being “vomited out” of the land (verse 28).  What was their sin?  Among other things, idolatry (the worship of false gods) and human sacrifice, which violated the First, Second and Sixth Commandments.

            The Bible shows that the Ten Commandments did not originate with Moses or in his time.  Nor were they in any way limited only to the Jews.  They were in effect and known long before Moses or a people known as Jews existed.  They are the foundation of God’s laws that show us how to love God (defined by the first four Commandments) and how to love our fellow man (defined by the last six).  This is why, after Jesus Christ returns to establish His glorious Kingdom on earth, Isaiah 2:3 tells us that “many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”  At that time, all of mankind will at last be taught to live according to all of God’s laws and commandments.

 

[end bullet]

 

The Temporary Sinai or Old Covenant

 

Understanding the purpose and temporary nature of the covenant God made with ancient Israel at Mt. Sinai is critical for comprehending the New Testament scriptures correctly.  The contents of this covenant became, in effect, Israel’s national constitution.  With God as its King, Israel became a theocratic state---essentially a temporary, earthly kingdom of God.  It’s people accepted all the covenantal conditions God laid out for them, saying, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8).  Amid the thunder, lightning, smoke and fire atop Mt. Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments to the entire nation (Exodus 20:1-18).  How did the people respond to Moses?  “Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire.  We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.  Now therefore, why should we die?  For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore, then we shall die.  For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?  You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all that the LORD our God says to you, and we will hear and do it” (Deuteronomy 5:24-27; cf. Exodus 24:7).

 

This covenant agreement was between God and Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites.  It contained God’s laws, which became officially codified in the writings of Moses, called the Torah in Hebrew (Genesis through Deuteronomy).  In this covenant agreement between God and the nation of Israel, God became their King, and God’s laws, now codified (Exodus-Deuteronomy) became their official Constitution.  The Law of God within the books of the Torah can be divided into three major categories:

 

          1) Civil laws (cf. Exodus 20:1-18; Exodus chapters 21-23, statutes such as found in Leviticus 23:1-44, the statutes listing the Sabbath and Holy Days of God, and Leviticus chapters 18 & 20).

 

          2)  Ceremonial (or religious) laws (cf. the Passover sacrifice itself;    Leviticus 16:1-34, Numbers 28-29, the sacrifices required on the    Holy Days, most of the Book of Leviticus).  Ceremonial laws are      scattered throughout Exodus through Deuteronomy.  The           ceremonial laws symbolized important aspects of the covenant       relationship.  They also pictured the work of the coming Messiah     and his sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world, and salvation       offered through him.

 

          3) Promised physical blessings for obedience, physical curses for    disobedience (cf. Leviticus 26:1-46; Deuteronomy 28:1-68).

 

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God’s ‘Laws, Statutes and Judgments’

 

When God organized the people of Israel into a nation under the Sinai Covenant, through the human leadership of Moses, He authorized an administrative system that included not only priests but also judges to keep them on the path of righteousness (Deuteronomy 1:16-17).  These judges were to perform their assigned duties according to the laws, statutes and judgments that God would reveal to them, either directly (as with the Ten Commandments)) or through his messengers. 

          Though a variety of terms are used in the Scriptures to describe God’s instructions to His people and their officials, they usually are summarized under the three broad categories of “statutes and judgments and laws” (Leviticus 26:46, King James Version).  These terms describe distinctions in the way God’s instructions are viewed rather than their validity or importance.  They all represent His will.  All of them were to be respected and followed. 

          The Hebrew word translated “law” is torah.  When used with the definite article (the law), it refers either to law in general or to some specific aspect of law.  It often refers to the entire body of law that God gave to the people of Israel.  Torah also carries the broader meaning of “teachings,” especially when used without the definite article.  Sometimes, when used so broadly, the word even appears to imply the entire body of revealed instruction contained in the Old Testament scriptures. 

          The word “statutes” refers to a specific type of laws.  As the English translation of the Hebrew words choq or chuqqah, the word “statute” refers to an authoritative enactment, decree or ordinance.  Biblical statutes may set appointed times, such as sacred festivals, define important customs and even establish the manner or procedure by which certain vital matters are to be handled.  Because they reveal God’s thinking and reflect His priorities, they are crucially instructive as divine guidelines for righteous behavior.

          “Judgments” are decisions handed down by judges to explain, broaden or narrow the application of existing law.  To ensure that human judges would have meaningful guidelines and precedents to follow in exercising their judicial responsibilities, God provides examples of how He judges in the Scriptures.  God’s judgments illustrate how righteous decisions should be made according to the principles revealed in His laws and statutes.  He instructs all judges who are responsible for making judgments not specifically covered in the Torah: “In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it, according to My statutes…” (Ezekiel 44:24).  He also tells them: “You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.  In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15).

          Taken together, God’s laws, statutes and judgments lay the foundation for a righteous society and the administrative procedures needed to govern it.  They all contain principles that are applicable to all peoples and are broad enough to be adapted to new situations.

 

[end bullet]

 

God’s Old Covenant contained a set of laws, the core of which, the Ten Commandments, had been around since Adam and Eve.  The laws communicated within the Sinai or Old Covenant were not the Old Covenant itself---those Laws of God stand alone as God’s code of righteousness---they define righteousness.  The Old Covenant was Israel’s agreement to obey the Laws of God contained within the Torah, all on their own (cf. Exodus 24:7).  If and when they succeeded, they would receive the physical blessings as defined in Leviticus 26:1-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14.  If they failed to live by the laws contained therein, they would receive the curses contained in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.  Those blessings and curses were only physical in nature, temporary.  No promise of eternal life for obedience was contained within the Old Covenant agreement between God and Israel.

 

The ceremonial laws within the Sinai Covenant were temporary

 

As Hebrews 9:9-10 explains, the ritualism of the covenant at Sinai “was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to conscience---concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.”  A future revision of that covenant---particularly in those features linked to the death and mission of the coming Messiah---was promised.  God announced through His prophets that with this “better covenant” He would put His law in the minds of humanity and He would write them on their hearts.  He promised to provide---at the individual level---direct access to Him (Hebrews 8:6; Jeremiah 31:31-34).  So we see the ceremonial laws embedded within the civil laws of God contained within the Sinai Covenant were what was to become temporary, superceded by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Also understand that some, many of the laws found within the Sinai Covenant are national constitutional laws designed and suited for the governing of a nation or nations, and per se, are not directly applicable to the governing of a church.  But their spiritual principles are very applicable.  In the Millennial Kingdom of God, as seen in many of the Old Testament prophecies, this set of laws will be applied on a national and international level worldwide (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; 66:23; Zechariah 14:16-19).

 

Six Points Concerning the Sinai Covenant

 

1. God was not blindsided by Israel’s failures to keep the laws within the Sinai Covenant.  He anticipated these failures.  From the beginning He revealed hints of a “better” solution to the sinfulness of mankind that could be made available only through the coming Messiah.  Those “hints,” in the form of various ceremonies, symbols and rituals, are woven throughout the instructions given under the Sinai Covenant.

 

2. God uses the experiences of ancient Israel, as recorded in Scripture, to help all mankind, including the Israelites themselves, learn how easily we succumb to sin.  Eventually all nations are destined to comprehend why sin is so terrible and why so much more than human effort is required to erase it from the heart.

 

3.  In the Sinai Covenant with ancient Israel, God comprehensively and permanently defined the fundamentals of righteous behavior.  But giving them the knowledge of God’s laws did not automatically put righteousness in their hearts and minds. 

 

4.  The needed transformation occurs only in those who receive additional spiritual help through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  To receive God’s Spirit, one first must be called of God (John 6:44, 65) and genuinely repent of, or turn from sin (Acts 2:38).  God did not make His Spirit generally available until after Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected so that He could serve as the Mediator of the New Covenant.

 

5.  That is why understanding Christ’s sacrificial and priestly roles in a “better covenant” that provides the means for receiving forgiveness of sin and the precious gift of the Holy Spirit is so vital.  These additions are the vitally important enhancements to the Old Covenant that God made with the people of ancient Israel.  i.e. the promises within the New Covenant ENERGIZE the laws of God written within the Old Covenant, not do away with them.

 

6.  As Jesus Christ pointed out very clearly in Matthew 5:17-19, the code of Laws defined in those first five books, was not to be tampered with, and did not become “obsolete” as many like to teach.  But in fact, he stated one “jot” or one “tittle” of that Law was not to be changed until heaven and earth pass away.  So what we find, by the simple definition of what the New Covenant is, as defined by God through Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and by the apostle Paul in Hebrews 8:6-13, is that the New Covenant has now been added to the Old Covenant set of Laws---minus the ceremonial sacrificial laws---to energize it, so that mankind can now keep those laws that they could not keep on their own.  The promises contained within the New Covenant ENERGIZE the Laws of God written and contained within the Sinai or Old Covenant---they do not do away with them or nullify them in any way.

 

[bullet chart]

 

God’s Covenant with Noah

(Genesis 6:5-8; 9:8-11)

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Abrahamic Covenant

(Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:1-21; 17:1-14; 22:15-18)

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Sinai Covenant with Israel

(Exodus 19:8; 20:1-19; Exodus 21-23; 24:1-8; books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  Blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28)

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Davidic Covenant

(Psalm 89:3-4; Jeremiah 30:8-9; 33:19-26; Luke 1:30-33; Acts 13:22-23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Covenant for Transforming the Heart

 

“Then I will give them a new heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7) “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD:  I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10)

 

God’s original intent from the beginning was to write his laws within the hearts and minds of people, not merely on tablets of stone locked away in the inner recesses of a temple or on Torah Scrolls stored in synagogues.  As we saw in the introduction there is a serious “missing dimension” in the thinking and reasoning ability of mankind.  Merely giving people the laws of God did absolutely nothing to fill this “missing dimension” in mankind’s thinking and reasoning ability.  That is what the Old or Sinai Covenant did, it gave Israel a written version of God’s law, and Israel’s hearts and minds remained the same, like stone.  Their hearts and minds were not softened to receive God’s law into them.  As Romans 8:7-8 says, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God; nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” 

          What the New Covenant does is it provides this change of heart, this softened mind which is now willing to receive God’s law.  By the very wording of the New Covenant we see that it provides the means by which the very laws of God can be written into the hearts and minds of whoever responds to God’s call to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13; John 6:44, 65).  So, far from abolishing God’s Law, as many like to teach, the New Covenant establishes God’s Law.  This is in total harmony with Jesus’ statement given in the Sermon on the Mount where he said, “Think not that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle [word or pen stroke] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18).  It is the firm goal of God to change the hearts and minds of all who choose to serve Him, and as Bible prophecy shows, this will eventually lead all of mankind to have the desire to serve Him.  God is not partial in this desire (cf. Romans 2:11).  As Paul said, “And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” (Galatians 3:8).  It is the expressed will of God that all people are given the opportunity to repent, having the laws of God written upon their hearts and in their minds.  He began all this with Abraham. 

 

Comparisons and differences between the Sinai and New Covenant

 

The Old or Sinai Covenant granted a physical inheritance to a specific piece or parcel of land in the Middle East, and also provided physical blessings for obedience to God’s law.  It was also limited to providing this inheritance and blessings to a specific group of people, the descendants of Abraham, the 12 tribes of Israel.  These physical and temporary blessings were provided in this covenant agreement, in return for their obedience to God’s law, which was codified for them within the Sinai or Old Covenant.  The New Covenant promises that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will establish a much more inclusive kingdom, the Kingdom of God, which will bear rule over the whole earth.  The reward for living a repentant life---having God’s laws written on our hearts and in our minds---is to be granted eternal life at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, and then to rule with Him in this Kingdom of God over the whole earth (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54; Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 20:4-6).  We are to be heirs of God and our inheritance is eternal life within the Kingdom of God (cf. Hebrews 9:15; Romans 8:15-17).  We are still bound by the terms of the covenants, plural, of God.  To qualify as an heir of that Kingdom, one has to meet the terms defined in God’s covenants as revised by the New Covenant.  Why?  Because as we saw in the previous chapter, those covenants were built upon each other.  The specific terms describing the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 says God’s laws will be written upon our hearts and in our minds.  Which laws?  The laws which were the central part of God’s Sinai or Old Covenant, which Jesus so clearly brought out in Matthew 5:17-48.  That is why that last statement of qualification includes all the covenants from Abraham to Christ and the New Covenant.  The whole purpose of the combined covenants of God, now empowered by the enablement of God through the Holy Spirit---is to turn all mankind “away from their iniquities” (Acts 3:25-26). 

          As we saw, each covenant was built upon key elements of the previous covenants, building in expanding stages just who God is working with.  So we see that God’s call to repentance is scheduled to be presented to humanity in stages---Abraham first, then Jacob and his 12 sons, who became the 12 tribed kingdom of Israel, then all whom God would call out of the Jews and Gentiles around the world, all whom God is presently calling now “in this present evil age,” and then finally after Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming, all of humanity (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4).  (For the compelling details of God’s salvation timetable, be sure to request our free booklets What is Your Destiny? And God’s Holy Day Plan:  The Promise of Hope for All Mankind)

          Another distinction between the Sinai or Old Covenant and the New Covenant is where God’s law is written.  As seen, the laws of God in the Sinai Covenant were written on tables of stone (and on Torah Scrolls).  They were never really inscribed on the hearts and in the minds of the people God was working with, Israel.  Under the New Covenant, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, God’s laws are written upon the hearts and in the minds of those God is working with (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 8:1-16).  The Sinai Covenant’s rituals and symbolic animal sacrifices could only serve to remind the people of their guilt and sins.  Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross literally and completely paid for the sins of all who entered into this New Covenant with God.  Jesus’ sacrifice cancels the guilty verdict on all who receive Him and live according to the Spirit (cf. Hebrews 10:4; Romans 8:1-9). 

 

A personal relationship with our High Priest

 

Another difference between the Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant is in the office of the high priesthood.  Under the Sinai or Old Covenant the high priest was a physical human being, chosen from the line of Aaron, within the tribe of Levi.  This high priest was subject to death, and so new high priests always had to be selected from Aaron’s line down through Israel’s history up to the time of Christ.  In the New Covenant it says in Hebrews 8:1-2, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying:  We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” (NKJV)  We now have access to the personal assistance of Jesus Christ, on a moment by moment and day by day basis, who is now our active High Priest.  “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted”  (Hebrews 2:17-18, NKJV).  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NKJV). 

 

Symbolic rituals and animal sacrifices contained within the Sinai Covenant no longer needed

 

When Jesus Christ died and was resurrected back to life on the 3rd day, and after his ascension to heaven 40 days later (cf. Acts 1:9) He became the active Mediator of the New Covenant and our High Priest.  Shortly before his death He told the 12 disciples this whole Sinai Covenant ceremonial worship system based on animal sacrifices (not the Law of God, Matthew 5:17-19) was about to end.  “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things?  Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew  24:1-2, NKJV).  Paul in Hebrews explained that this sacrificial/ritualistic system was about to be destroyed.  Why?  Because the literal sacrifice of Jesus Christ had just replaced the need for all these physical sacrifices and rituals.  They were only a shadow-picture of his actual atoning sacrifice (cf. Hebrews 9:1-10; 10:4).  The temple was destroyed by the Roman army in 70 A.D.  The ritualistic system of worship and the entire priesthood, along with the records of who was in the priestly line of Aaron (kept in the temple) was all destroyed.  But as Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19, the laws of God written and contained within the Sinai Covenant, the laws which defined sin, are not included among those items explicitly identified as terminated with the destruction of the temple (cf. Hebrews 9:11-15).  The tabernacle/temple ministry of the Sinai Covenant was only symbolic and temporary---with physical rewards for obedience and inheritance within the land of Israel.  The specific ministry of Jesus Christ within the New Covenant brings with it an “eternal inheritance” within the soon-coming Kingdom of God.  God’s laws which define righteousness are not symbolic or temporary, and never have been.  As we have seen, they have been active since Adam and Eve.  Also, as seen throughout the Gospels, Acts and the Epistles, Jesus and the apostles observed the Sabbath and Holy Days, and upheld the other 9 Commandments, raising them to their lofty spiritual intent, taking them far beyond the letter.

 

Hebrews explains the temporary aspect of the Sinai Covenant

 

So we have just seen that some of the requirements of the Sinai Covenant were temporary---ritualistic sacrificial laws which symbolically pictured Christ’s literal sacrifice on the cross.  That is why it is important for those of us who are now under the New Covenant to understand what is not included in the changes made.  The Book of Hebrews (believed to have been penned by the apostle Paul) explain in great detail what was changed.  Hebrews 9:11-15, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”    Hebrews 10:1-4, 8-12, “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins…Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’  He takes away the first [covenant] that He may establish the second [cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:16-18].  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…”  The term “the law” in verse 1 of Hebrews 10, by context, can be seen to represent the law of rituals and sacrifices contained within the entire codified law of God.  Paul’s subject here is the sacrificial laws.  These are the “laws” that have been set aside, not deleted from the text of the Law, just set aside.

 

Jesus upholds obedience to the Old Testament Law

 

Now let’s see what Jesus tells us about what is not to be changed in the Law of God.  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill [to fill up the law to its fullest intent and purpose and to become the High Priest and ultimate sacrifice foreshadowed in both the Law and the Prophets].  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18, NRSV).  Jesus is very specific.  The Old Testament is to remain unaltered, with a new understanding that its figurative aspects merely point to His role as our permanent High Priest and ultimate sacrifice.  But the entire Old Testament [i.e. the Law and the Prophets]---every word and character---is to be preserved and used by Christians.  Jesus makes it very clear that not even a part of a single letter of that original text is to be deleted or changed.  He came to bring to pass what God had promised or foretold in His Word, not to discard or annul it.  Even the sections describing the ceremonial aspects of the Sinai Covenant still teach us valuable lessons about the importance of Jesus Christ’s work and sacrifice for us, as the book of Hebrews explains in some detail.  Jesus forcefully confirmed that His preaching should never be interpreted as nullifying any part of the Old Testament scriptures:  “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least [by those] in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great [by those] in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19, NRSV).  Through the remainder of Matthew 5 He gives many examples that show the law’s requirements are even more binding on Christians, not less.  He does this by illustrating the spiritual intent of the law that should govern our very thoughts and attitudes in addition to our actions (cf. Matthew 5:20-48). 

 

Paul backs up Jesus’ statement found in Matthew 5:17-19

 

In 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NKJV).  Paul never said Christians are required to perform---precisely as written---every detail in the law given to Israel.  Many of those laws, built around the 10 Commandment core, were laws adapted specifically for the governing of an agrarian nation and not a church, per se.  Paul ’s emphasis as seen in 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 is that all of it is profitable or useful (and as Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18, not one pen-stroke is to be tampered with, not even the ceremonial parts).  But Jesus told us what is required of believers, where he brought some of the 10 Commandments to a far greater spiritual intent.  Jesus and the apostolic Church all kept the Sabbath and Holy Days, as seen in the four Gospels and book of Acts.  We also find that nine of the Ten Commandments are re-commanded in the Epistles to the Church, and they also were often brought to a higher spiritual level just as Jesus did in Matthew 5:20-48.  The ritualistic laws, though we are not required to carry them out (nor can we without a Levitical priesthood or temple complex) have value in the written Word of God, the Torah, in explaining the role of Jesus as our High Priest and give valuable pictures of what his sacrifice on the cross did and does for us.  This part of God’s law serves as an important teaching aid.  It is very important to remember, the temporary aspects of the Old Testament Law of God never defined sin.  They did represent or paint a symbolic picture of how Jesus Christ would pay the death-penalty for sin, for all who would believe, accepting Him as their Saviour, repenting and being baptized. 

 

The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament

 

Without the codified Law of God, we would as Christians have no clear definition of what sin is.  The apostle John clearly identifies what sin is in his Gospel.  He says, “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1st John 3:4, KJV).  What law?  Jesus told us, the Old Testament 10 Commandment Law of God, as codified within the Sinai Covenant.  The New Testament is not written as a replacement for the Old Testament.  The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament (cf. Matthew 5:17-48; Acts 28:23).  Jesus told us we should be living by every word of God (cf. Matthew 4:4).  We have also seen that the New Covenant is built squarely on top of the Sinai or Old Covenant.  The genuine spiritual growth of the believer in Jesus cannot take place without the complete knowledge of God’s law.  How are we supposed to avoid sin and be progressively putting sin out of our lives without a clear knowledge of the very definition of what sin is, as found defined within God’s law?  And yet some would have you believe you can do that.  Preposterous!  Some very sincere, yet denuded Christian leaders and teachers run circles around the Word of God trying to define sin for their members, while trying to avoid getting into God’s definition of sin, which can only be found within the law of God.  Some of them succeed, simply because they are following the re-commanded law of God found throughout the Epistles and Gospels.  But to a man of them, they are missing one of the central commands found within the 10 Commandments, the Sabbath Command, found both in Exodus 20:8-11, and Leviticus 23:1-3, along with all of God’s Holy Day commandments.  Just because they are not found recommended in the New Testament, they miss the fact that the early historic Church of God in Judea and Asia Minor, as well as Jesus in all four Gospels set the example of keeping both the Sabbath and Holy Days.  We are told by Peter to follow in Jesus’ steps (1st Peter 2:21). Putting sin out and developing righteous character without understanding God’s law is virtually impossible.  If the Holy Spirit gives a believer the power to obey, both in the letter and spirit-level of God’s law, you still have to understand just what that law is.  The very thinking of God about what sin is and what righteousness is, is found within the law of God.  The whole Word of God is essential for Christian growth and development.  God’s Holy Spirit grants both power of obedience and a far higher level of comprehension of God’s Word than ordinary people in the world possess.  But how does one comprehend what one does not read and study?  Having God’s Holy Spirit is not enough.  The careful study of God’s Word, the whole Word of God, coupled to having God’s Holy Spirit is essential for Christian growth in Godly character (cf. Isaiah 55:9-11; Philippians 2:5; Isaiah 66:2).  The whole Word of God should become an instrument that, along with God’s Holy Spirit, transforms our thinking and behavior as God desires them to be, writing His laws on our hearts and within our minds. 

 

The difference between the Sinai and New Covenant

 

In 2nd Corinthians 3 Paul is pointing out the complete difference between the Old and New Covenant.  2nd Corinthians 3:5-11, “…but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?  For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.  For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.  For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious” (NKJV).  The Sinai or Old Covenant was a ‘ministry of condemnation.’  There was no power provided for those under the Sinai Covenant to obey, so the people were always being condemned under it.  But those under the New Covenant have the power to obey provided for them by means of the Spirit of Christ---having God’s laws written in their hearts and minds (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:5-18; Hebrews 8:6-13).  Verse 18 brings out some of this, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  A major focus of the Sinai Covenant’s ‘ministry’ or priesthood---its ministry to the people on God’s behalf---was to remind them constantly that God condemns both evil and evildoers (i.e. sin and sinners).  The New Covenant ministry is far more focused on bringing sinners to heartfelt repentance so they can escape condemnation in the judgment to come (cf. Acts 17:30-31).  It is the power provided within this New Covenant, the Spirit of Christ, which enables us to be transformed into ‘the image of Christ, from glory to glory.’ (2nd Corinthians 3:18). 

          It is important for us to realize that certain revisions to the Sinai Covenant’s laws have been made into the New Covenant. For example, the legislation applying to the high priest was revised to accommodate Jesus Christ’s appointment as our High Priest.  The same principle applies to the animal sacrifices and ceremonial laws.  A change from merely symbolic animal sacrifices to the real and permanent sacrifice of Jesus Christ necessitates an adjustment to the codified law of God.  But it does not abolish our need for a sacrifice for sin.  The law’s requirement that a sacrifice be made for sin remains intact.  But now it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that fulfills that requirement (cf. Hebrews 10:4, 10-14, 18).  Therefore, some changes of the law of God, which was codified in the Sinai Covenant, were necessary to amend what was already in that law, to bring it up to date.  God’s law has not been abolished by the New Covenant, but now it contains important revisions that accommodate the “better promises” provided in the New Covenant.

 

Need for a ministry within the Body of Christ

 

The apostle Paul most definitely showed there was a genuine need for a ministry within the Body of Christ (which at the time of his writing, was to apostolic churches of God in Judea and scattered across Asia Minor and other parts of the Roman Empire).  Ephesians 4:11-16, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head---Christ---from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Having a qualified ministry, pastorate is so spiritual guidance and nurturing in the Word of God can be provided within the Body of Christ.  Why?  One important reason is that there are dangerous wolves in sheep’s clothing out there:  “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Ephesians 4:14)  The second reason is to bring spiritual nourishment and growth to everyone within the Body of Christ.  Pastors and teachers, qualified teachers of the Word of God are a most needed component within the Body of Christ.  One’s who are as Paul explained to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2  Timothy 2:15, NASB).  So, qualified “pastors and teachers” 1) protect those within the Body of Christ from false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing.  2) they also work, full-time, studying and teaching the Word of God in such a way that they nurture and bring to spiritual maturity the people of God.  3) Paul mentioned evangelists too, needed to provide growth in the Body of Christ, and to proclaim the Gospel (cf. Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20). That is why Paul wrote in Romans 10:14-15, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?”  A true evangelist has a specific talent to witness to people.  It’s not so much of a hierarchal rank as it is a talent and gift God places within some in the Body of Christ.  When their “talent” becomes recognized, they may end up having a sort of rank bestowed on them within the Body of Christ, but that is secondary and after the fact.

          Therefore, we must be careful to seek spiritual advice only from pastors who faithfully believe “every word of God” (Luke 4:4) and faithfully teach that “all Scripture” is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We need to be very careful that “pastors and teachers” from whom we seek spiritual guidance know the Bible well and teach it accurately---rather than interpreting it according to the tradition of men.  Paul warns us to beware of those who “are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). 

 

So what have we learned?

 

1. The Sinai or Old Covenant,  written on tablets of stone:

 

a. It contained the basic codified Law of God which defines sin and righteousness and was contained within the Sinai Covenant, the Old Covenant, that same law of God that existed from the creation. 

 

b. Their empowerment was dependent on man’s own will-power, which proved insufficient.  (Exodus 24:7)

 

c. there were only physical rewards and punishments for obedience and disobedience to the Laws of God, with a physical inheritance of land in Israel, with no promise of eternal life (cf. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).

 

2. The New Covenant:  The laws of God are to be written on the hearts and in the minds of believers in Jesus Christ, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jeremiah 24:7; 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13; Romans 8:1-16)

 

a.  minus the ceremonial laws, the very same set of laws, the 10 Commandments, judgments and statutes make up the core law of the New Covenant, but these laws have been brought to a higher spiritual level, while not negating the letter of them (cf. Matthew 5:17-48).

 

b. the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has taken the place of the ceremonial laws and animal sacrifices, and pays for the sins of those who repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour (cf. Hebrews chapters 9-10).

 

c. the promise of eternal life and inheritance in the coming Kingdom of God replaces the physical promises of blessings for obedience (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-56; Revelation 5:9-10; 20:4-6).  The whole earth becomes the future “inheritance” of believers as the land they inherit in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:5). 

 

[This article was written as a condensation of the United Church of God’s book on the Covenants of God.]

 

 

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