Proverbs 24:3-4 3 Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; 4 3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (NIV)
A BRIEF SUMMATION OF BOTH THE OLD AND NEW COVENANTS
This is a brief overview/synopsis of both the Old & New Covenants, intended to give the reader a basic framework from which to understand the differences that exist between these two major covenants given by God to the Jewish people. Then, how the gentiles were "allowed entrance into this 2nd Covenant/The New Covenant" by faith, and how the Jewish people were cut off through "unbelief" or disobedience. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or conclusive/definitive summary; but rather a short overview of the Old & New Covenants history and transition from one to the other.
We are convinced that lacking a basic understanding of these two covenants, is perhaps one of the reasons for the lack of understanding and confusion often found today among many modern day Christians, or those who purport to be... We offer this simple yet enlightening summation of both covenants to readers with the hope that they will come away with more light and understanding of what God has given us "The Church, The Body of Christ" in the New Covenant that Jesus bequeathed to us who are washed in His blood.
This teaching/presentation of both the Old & New Covenants is divided into seven short chapters or sections. The first four chapters deal with the Old Covenant, The Mosaic Law and Ten Commandments, and the numerous covenants given by God in ancient times prior to the New Covenant being given. In chapter 4, special attention is given to The Law & The Prophets. In chapter 5, The Law's ending is explained, including the awkward and difficult transition from Law to Grace. Chapter six is solely concerned with the New Covenant, and the final chapter, seven - is a conclusion to what the significance of the New Covenant means to us as New Testament believers; and a short treatment of "The Better Promises" that the New Covenant is founded on...
THE OLD COVENANT Finding the lost Treasure
Matt. 13:52 Then he unto them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out his treasure things new and old.
The above scripture, clearly reveals that the wise Christian (referred to as a householder), is one who uses both the old and new, when drawing from the “treasure” God has given to us.
Jesus is undoubtedly admonishing us to use both the Old and New Testaments (be instructed in), when applying the truths concerning the kingdom of heaven. Put another way, we are to walk in the reality of the New Covenant, while at the same time not neglecting the principals/shadows and lessons so richly found within the Old Testament scriptures. In a word: we need both!
To attempt to understand the New Covenant without first studying the O.T., “Law”, and many valuable accounts of key bible figures such as Moses, Noah, and David, etc.; is a classic case of “Putting the cart ahead of the horse”. In fact, trying to understand the Christian Faith without first understanding about Judaism (the root from which Christianity was birthed), is not only unwise and presumptuous, but impractical as well.
It only makes sense that our faith will have more meaning and relevance when we have an accurate picture of the background and circumstances that led to the inception of Christianity.
As New Testament believers, we are blessed with an awesome amount of spiritual wealth. When it comes to the “Household of Faith”, no other generation in the history of the Church has been given so much, in terms of knowledge, tradition, and resources. Regrettably, the sad irony is that in spite of this enormous abundance of wealth and resources (we have more bibles, lexicons, and other such resources than ever before) the average Christian has little or no real working knowledge of what the New or Old Covenants are about! Adding to this, is the scriptural truth found in the New Testament the the Church has been given: as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 2 Pet.1:3
Peter wrote this to the Church when they had no New Testament yet (written N.T.), no bible colleges, no computers, etc. which makes one wonder what God must think of the Body of Christ today. With all of our wealth of knowledge and technology, still lacking in our basic understanding of the Faith,which was once delivered to the saints (Jude3).
To anyone who doubts our assertion that most Christians do not understand either the Old or New Covenants properly; simply ask some Christian friends of loved ones to explain what the New or Old Covenant is? Don’t be surprised if you draw a blank stare, accompanied by silence, or a reply like, I’m not sure, or “I don’t know”.
Or occasionally you mat find someone who will say, “Oh you mean the Old and New Testament”, and then point to their Bible. Such generalities reveal a genuine lack of understanding of either the Old or New Covenant, or both. If a Christian cannot explain what the Old or New Covenant is, in simple and coherent terms that anyone can understand, then they need to stop and take the time to study this document of documents. To the reader who may think we are making too much of this, let us remind you that a failure to know and understand the Old and New Covenants is the equivalent of trying to please God without Faith! (Heb. 11:6). And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Or trying to know God without knowing His written revelation to us! The bottom line is simple: God commands us to study his word, all of it; (both Old and New Testament) this is made plain by the words of the Apostle Paul in 2Tim. 2:15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to beashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.(This implies the ability to discern the Old from the New).
Without belaboring the point any further, suffice to say that the evidence throughout the Body of Christ strongly suggests that a vast majority of Christians do not understand either the Old or New Covenants.
This condition is of course shameful and without excuse! Without pointing fingers or assigning specific blame, let us instead focus our energy and direction on eliminating this widespread ignorance of these two essential covenants, by diligently studying both of these Covenants, and then sharing that knowledge and understanding with other Christians as we are given opportunity.
Only when we possess a clear understanding of the Old Covenant, the Law and the Prophets, can we truly appreciate what happened when Christ appeared to fulfill the Law. And also, why the Law had to be taken out of the way, and replaced with a “better covenant”, and why we as Christians cannot allow the Law to “mix” with the “grace” of the New Covenant. These, and other such questions can only be answered when we as Christians “first” know and understand the Old Covenant that gave birth to a “new and better” Covenant established on “better promises”...
Hebrews 8:6But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
Authors/Michael D'Aigle & William Rivera
* All scriptures are taken from the KJV of the Bible, unless otherwise noted...
COMING OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Heb. 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.
The O.T. is filled with numerous "shadows", that all lead us back to the person and work of Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Malachi(2 Maccabees in the Catholic Bible), we discover that every book of the O.T. Points us to Christ; with each book revealing a different aspect of the character, nature, and purpose of God.
No shadow is so evident in the Old Testament as that of the “law” given to Moses... and while no man except Jesus Christ could bear the weight/burden of the law, it did in fact show us all our need for a “SAVIOR”. Let us thank God that he had something “better prepared for us” who now live under the benefits and blessings of the New Covenant. Below you will find the exacting demands that the “law” placed upon mankind.
A SUMMARY OF THE LAW * (4)
It is important to note that the term "Ten Commandments", is known as the Covenant of God to Israel, and is found only three times in the scripture: Ex. 34:28, Dt.4:13,10:4 The 10 Commandments are a summary or basis of thewhole Law of Moses. They are the only part of the Law of Mosesspoken by God's audible voice, to Israel. Adam never knew them, and only 5 of the 10 Commandments were known to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the other patriarchs of Israel before Sinai.
It is also important to note that the Law of Moses is comprised of 3434 commandments in total. To help the reader to break down the 3434 Laws of Moses we will break them up into four sections.
1. The 203 commands given to Moses, before the 10 *(4) Commandments were received. 2. The Ten Commandments, given on Mt. Sinai 3. The 155 commands derived from the Ten Commandments 4. The 3066 other commands "later" added to the Law of Moses
A. GOD FIRST - There are found in the Law of Moses, 23 commands dealing with God and His relationship to Israel: No other gods before Me, sacrifice to no other gods, bow not down to other gods, love Me with all your heart,mind, soul, and strength, do not profane My name,etc. Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me
B. IDOLATRY - There are 38 commands concerning idolatry in the Law of Moses: Make no graven images of any kind, bow not down to them, do not serve them, sacrifice no children to them, do not enquire about them.Deuteronomy 7:25 images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.
C. BLASPHEMY- There are 12 commands about blasphemy in the Law of Moses:Do not take God's name in vain, do not swear by God's name, death for those found guilty of blasphemy.Deuteronomy 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Memorial and Ritual Laws
WEEKLY SABBATHS - 62 Commands in the Law of Moses: Remember to keep it holy, do not work, do not cook, abide at home, rest.
YEAR LONG SABBATHS - 34 Commands in the Law of Moses: Let the land rest the seventh year, release the debtor of his debts.
2 YEAR SABBATHS - 35 Commands in the Law of Moses: Hallow the 50th year(which is the 7th sabbatical year, honored as a 2 yr sabbath), Proclaim liberty to all and begin another 50yr business cycle, releasing all debts, mortgages, and slaves!
SPECIAL YEARLY SABBATHS - 138 Commands: Observe yearly, the great day of atonement(Oct.19), 1st and 8th days to be "Feast of Tabernacles".
SACRIFICE OFFERINGS - 21 Commands: Make altars of sacrifice, no leaven or honey in burnt offerings, oil and frankincense on meat offerings.
TABERNACLE LAWS - 329 Commands: Temple to be built by free-will offerings, specific placement of furniture, exact instructions on the building and erection of tabernacle, description of "how" the tabernacle service is to be carried out.
THE PRIESTHOOD LAWS - 628 commands: Priests chosen from the tribe of Levi, cleansing and consecration of priests, duties of priests and levites, keep free from defilement.
REWARDS of SERVICE - 64 Commands: Priests to receive a portion of all the sacrifices, tithes and offerings; of ev- erything produced in Israel(the best of everything).
8 FEASTS OF JEHOVAH- Feast of Dedication, Feast of In-gathering, Feast of Lights, Feast of Purim, Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of the Lord, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks.
Miscellaneous laws- 84 Commands, such as popular opinion, respect of persons, and love your enemies.
Moral and Civil laws- 1092 Commands,such as family laws, murder laws, sex laws, stealing laws, lying laws, covetousness laws, humane laws, conquest laws, slave laws, property laws, business laws, justice laws.
Modes of punishment - 7 Commands for transgressing the Law: scourging--hand cut off--fines by death by fire, stoning, hanging sword
It should be pointed out that every citizen of Israel was required to know/memorize/ and observe all of the rigid requirements and demands of the Law.
Deut.6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as front-lets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Undoubtedly, the weight and exactness of the Law proved to be too much for not only the individual, but for the nations of Israel and Judah as a whole. Time and time again, we observe the unfaithfulness and inability of Judah and Israel to "keep" the Law. And though occasionally, we do witness a "faithful" person throughout Israel's checkered past; as a whole it can be said that "no one" truly kept the Law, in every point! The following scriptures bear witness to this irrefutable fact:
Rom. 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: The is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one.
It is clear to anyone who has taken the time to examine the minute details and requirements of the law – that living under it's impossible demands(for all but Jesus Christ) was a recipe for failure and frustration.
Thank God, that Jesus Christ took the law out of the way, and we now are privileged to live under the New Covenant; a stark contrast to say the least... Before we look closely at the transition from Law to Grace, from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, let us take one last look at the Old Covenant which is surely misunderstood by most Christians today.
Again, understanding what we have “come out of”, will help us appreciate and walk in the blessings that are ours under the New Covenant...
THE OLD COVENANT
A Book of Covenants
Before we examine the heart and soul of the Old Testament (The Law and The Prophets). Let us first set the record straight concerning the different ways in which the Old Testament is viewed. To begin with, the term “Old Testament” (also called the Old Covenant), is commonly used by individuals when speaking of the various books that make up the Old Testament “Canon”. The word canon refers to those books that have been officially recognized as “Holy Scriptures” by the Church. In the Catholic Church there are forty-nine books recognized as canon, beginning with Genesis and ending with the second book of Maccabees. In the Protestant Church, thirty-nine books are recognized as canon, beginning with Genesis and ending with Malachi.
CANON (from Web. Dicta.) : Gk. Kanna-reed, Latin-standard, 1. A regulation or dogma decreed by a Church council, 3. An authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture.
Also, while the Old Testament (Covenant), is often viewed as “one covenant”, in reality it is a collection of covenants beginning with the Solaric Covenant in Genesis. These covenants were born out of varying circumstances and different times.
We must therefore approach the Old Testament with the understanding that we are actually looking at a wide assortment of “Covenants” spanning a period of some 4000 years, and involving numerous individuals that comprise the history of man (esp. the nation of Israel and Judah). And while the Sinaitic Covenant (the Law of Moses), is certainly the most significant covenant of the Old Testament (though one might argue that the Abrahamic Covenant is) the other covenants are all important, and demand our close attention.
We should point out that we are not saying the Mosaic Covenant (the Law), is the best covenant or superior covenant (even though Paul the Apostle did declare the law righteous),on the contrary, the “Law Covenant” might well be reckoned as the “Worst” covenant of all! After all, it was the Law that brought the “curse” upon all mankind (Rom. 3:9-20, Gal. 3:10)! It was in fact, the Abrahamic Covenant that guaranteed the “Blessing) through faith (Gal.3: 7-9, Rom. 4:13-18).
So then, when we refer to the Sinai-tic Covenant/Law of Moses, as being the most significant of the Old Testament, we simply mean: The Law’s overall influence and impact upon all of mankind (albeit negative). Has been the centerpiece of God’s plan for salvation up to the time of the “First Reformation” Each covenant of the Old Testament reveals something of the character, nature, and purpose of God. We believe a close examination of each of these different covenants such as the Davidic and Levitical Covenants and many others. Will allow you to better understand and appreciate the “superiority” of the New Covenant we are so privileged to live under (Heb. 8:6).
Because our main focus is in presenting the “Law” (Sinaitic Covenant), we are only presenting a brief out line of the “Other Covenants” in the Old Testament, along with definitions to the word covenant and testament. It should be noted that these covenants are covenants between God and man only.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary
Covenant: (Noun), Greek - Diatheke. Primarily signifies a disposition of property by will or otherwise. In its use in the Sept., it is the rendering of a Hebrew word meaning a covenant or agreement (from a verb signifying to cut or divide, in allusion to a sacrificial custom in connection with covenant-making e.g., Gen. 15: 10, “divided” Jer. 34: 18-19. In contradistinction to the English word “covenant” (lit. a coming together), which signifies a mutual undertaking between two parties or more, each binding himself to fulfill obligations.
In other words covenant from the Hebrew does not in itself contain the idea of joint obligation, it mostly signifies an obligation undertaken by a single person. For instance, in Gal. 3: 17 it is used as an alternative to a “promise” (vs. 16,17 and 18). God enjoined upon Abraham the rite of circumcision, but His promise to Abraham, here called a covenant, was not conditional upon the observance of circumcision, through a penalty attached to its non-observance.
The N.T. uses of he word may be analyzed as follows: (a) A promise or undertaking, human or divine, Gal. 3: 15; (b) A promise or undertaking on the part of God, Luke 1: 72, Acts 3:25, Rom. 9: 4, 11: 27,etc. (c) A mutual undertaking, between God and Israel, see Deut. 29 - 30 (described as a commandment, Heb. 7: 8, 9:20. (d) By metonymy, the token of the covenant, or promise, made to Abraham, Acts 7: 8. (e) By metonymy, the record of the covenant, 2Cor. 3: 14, Heb. 9:4 . Rev. 11: 19. (f) The basis established by the death of Christ, on which the salvation of men is secured, (Matt. 26: 28, Mk. 14: 24, Lk. 22: 20, etc.)
This covenant is called the new, Heb. 9: 15, the second, 8: 7, the better, 7: 22. In Heb. 9: 16 - 17 the translation is much disputed. There does not seem to be any sufficient reason for departing in these verses from the word used everywhere else. The English word “Testament” is taken from the titles prefixed to the Latin versions. See Testament ************* Testament (from Webster’s N.C. Dictionary): covenant with God, holy scripture, Fr. L, last will, Fr. testari to be a witness, call to witness, make a will, Fr. Testis, witness...
Without elaborating further, let us simply state that the word Testament and covenant are basically synonymous. With any distinction being that the word covenant connotes the idea of “an agreement based on promise”. Whereas testament, connotes the idea of agreement based on the “will of the testator”. Which in turn signifies a death “seal” or confirming the agreement.
Significantly, the New Testament/Covenant carries both ideas, which reinforces the integrity of the “Promises” contained in this agreement with mankind.
A Covenant should in reality be viewed as God’s as God’s promise to “give” something to a select person, or group of individuals. *Note, the covenant may or may not be conditional.
The important thing to note from these meanings is that the word “Covenant” usually carries with the idea a promise that is dependent upon the initiator of the covenant. Thankfully, the initiator of both the Old and New Covenants is God. The idea of God making promises (some conditional, some not) is at the heart of what is meant when either word is being used. It is reasonable to say that both the Old and New Covenants were and are in truth: God’s promises backed up by Almighty God Himself!
The “OTHER COVENANTS"
Solaric: This covenant is the promise of eternal seasons of fruitfulness that would continue forever
Edenic - Adam: Genesis 2: 4 - in this verse we see the first indication that God is a covenant maker, for it is in this verse the name of Jehovah - Elohim is used to proclaim the God of Covenant relationship. Genesis 2: 15-17 we see Jehovah- Elohim take Adam and place him in the garden to dress and keep it, this is known as the “Dominion Covenant” which contains ten articles.
1.Be fruitful, not sterile 2.Multiply 3.Replenish 4.Subdue the Earth 5.Rule all of God’s works 6.Dress the garden and keep it 7.Protect from enemies (dominion) 8.Freely eat all, but the tree of knowledge 9.Refrain from the tree of knowledge 10. The penalty of eating from the tree of knowledge
Adamic: Again in Genesis 3: 15-17,21 the Adamic Covenant is completed when the promise of redemption is made through the seed of the women. And I will put enmity between thee and the women, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel. And finally God sealed this Covenant by making coats of skin and dress them.
Cainic: Genesis 4: 11-15 this was a covenant to Cain on vengeance on anyone who killed him
Noahic: This covenant begins the dispensation of human government, which consisted of 7 points 1. God would not curse the ground, or living creatures. 2. That man should replenish the earth forever. 3. That man should rule the earth. 4. That animals should be eaten, but not the blood. 5. That there should be capital punishment for murders. 6. That the rainbow would be the sign of this covenant. 7. That this covenant would be forever.
Abrahamic: This covenant is also known as the dispensation of promise, and consist of 7 parts.
GOD'S SEVEN FOLD PROMISE:
1. I will make thee a great nation 2. will make thy name great 3. thou shall be a blessing 4. I will bless them that bless thee 5. I will bless thee 6. I will curse them that curse thee 7. In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed(circumcision, the sign of the covenant)
Hagatic: this was a covenant made with Hagar concerning her seed through Ishmael, Abraham's son. It concerned many generations and was in three parts 1. Commands, return and submit to Sarah, name your son Ishmael: meaning God shall hear. 2. Promises, your seed to multiply beyond number, Ishmael shall to be blessed and be a great nation, Ishmael shall to beget 12 princes. 3. Prophetical revelations, Ishmael shall be a wild man, his hand to be against every man, every man’s hand to be against him, Ishmael to dwell in the presence of his brethren.
Sarahic: This covenant made with Sarah promised certain blessings to her and Isaac, for many generations, and in two parts. 1. Commands, change her name from Sarai to Sarah, meaning princess, and call he son Isaac. 2. Promises to be blessed with a son, to be made the mother of nations, to become the mother of many kings, Abrahamic covenant to continue with Isaac, Abrahamic covenant to continue with Isaac seed forever.
Healing: This is made with Israel and all who chose to come under the covenant of God to Moses.
Levitic: Was given to Phinehas, the son of Levi, who was zealous for the Lord and executed judgment upon rebels. It consisted of two great promises: 1. Peace and blessing to Levi’s house. 2. An everlasting priesthood. Then a new covenant was made in Mal. 2: God took away the promise of peace and blessing do to their departing out of the way; and causing many to stumble at the Law; they had corrupted the covenant of Levi found in Malachi.
Salt: A covenant made with Israel concerning sacrifices they were to offer forever. This covenant of salt pictured the everlasting friendship between God and His people
Davidic: this covenant was made with David and his house, and was condi- tioned upon obedience as all other covenants. It was to be an everlasting covenant containing 7 blessings.
1. A Davidic house forever 2. A Davidic throne forever 3. A Davidic kingdom forever 4. A sure land for Israel forever 5. No more affliction from the nations forever 6. The fatherly care of God forever 7. An eternal covenant
THE LAW & THE PROPHETS
Mt. 22: 40 “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” Jer. 26: 4, Dan. 9: 10, Mt. 5: 17, Mt. 11: 13, Lk. 16:16, Acts 13: 39
The above scriptures all make reference to the “Law and the Prophets” (though not always together). In the New Testament we find Jesus using the expression: “The Law and the Prophets” together, with the idea being that these two words represent the “whole” of the Old Testament. Jesus goes on to declare that all of the Law and Prophets hang (are contained), on these two commandments: Mt. 22: 37-39 ...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
What Jesus is teaching us here is of paramount importance (a key spiritual truth), as we shall discover later in our in our study of the New Covenant. In fact, this truth may be considered the key to unlocking the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Mt. 13: 11, Lk. 8: 10, 1Cor. 4: 1. For now, let us realize that the entire O.T. (The Law and the Prophets), can be reduced to the two scriptures mentioned above. This is quite remarkable when one considers the incredible body of laws, ordinances, and commandments contained in the Old Testament.
Jer. 26: 4-5 And thou shalt say unto them, thus saith the Lord; if ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, to hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened.
In verse 5 of Jer. 26, we read,...to the words of my servants the prophets...; here we find that the words of the Prophets, that is at the heart of the matter. When Christ speaks of the “Prophets”, He is really alluding to the “words of the Prophets”. More specifically, He is referring to all the words of the Prophets. The word Prophets then, as it is used in the term, “the Law and the Prophets”, is simply another way of saying: the words of all the Old Testament Prophets, (whether spoken, or written).
So then, we learn from the context of how the word Prophets is used throughout the scriptures, and safely conclude that any reference to the Prophets is essentially a reference to their “words”. At this point, it needs to be pointed out that while the “Law” (the Sinaitic Covenant of Moses), was also spoken and written down by the Prophets; God has obviously determined that we are to differentiate between the two (hence, the term “Law and the Prophets”). Drawing this distinction, between the Law and the other words of the Prophets (such as end times prophecies, etc.), is important because it allows us to zero in on man’s number one problem: namely, SIN!
Let us remember, that while all of the words of the Prophets demand our attention and careful consideration, it was the Law that God used to expose our sinful condition (Rom. 7), and it was the Law that declares all men Guilty before God (Rom. 3: 19,20). In addition, it was the Law that God used to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3: 25). All the words of the Prophets (both the Law and all other), point to Christ; but it was the words of the Law that God specifically used to lead mankind to Jesus Christ. Simply put, it was the Law that showed man he needed a Savior!
While all of the other words of the Old Testament Prophets have merit, they did not have the force or weight necessary to bring us to Christ. It was for this reason and others, we will explain in the following chapter on the “Law”, that we divide the Old Testament into two areas of revelation we refer to as: “The Law and the Prophets”. everything to do with the way we approach God, and how we interpret His words to us. As we shall see later (in the chapter. Entitled: Grace, the New Covenant), our covenant, is also conditional; so let us take note of this small but all important word.
Compare with *Mt. 16: 24 ...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Also Lk. 14: 26, Jn. 10: 9, Jn. 12: 47-48, 1Cor. 3: 11-15, Gal. 1: 8-9, 2Thess. 3: 14)
The “Purpose” Revealed: *Ex. 19: 5-6 ...Then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation...
In verses 5 and 6, we have the purpose and reasons for the Law being explicitly revealed by God Himself. Again, let the reader take note that God’s purpose has not changed; under the New Covenant we will find that all of the “things” mentioned below are still applicable. (Any differences will be discussed more fully in the Chapter: Grace, the New Covenant.
A “Special Treasure”
In the above verses we see that God intended for Israel God’s Chosen People, to be unique, peculiar, a special treasure that He would prize and value above all other nations and peoples of the earth. (See def. below). It is for this reason that we find God referring to Israel as “the apple of My eye” Duet. 32: 9-11, this expression captures the love and desire God has for His chosen people. Sadly, the O.T. scriptures paint a bleak portrait of Israel; a nation that consistently disobeyed and angered God! Our point being, that the idea of a clergy (a separate order of priests offering up sacrifices pleasing to God), fell far short of God's plan for the priesthood, and on the contrary clearly revealed the need for a "better priesthood", and a "better covenant"... (See, Duet. 9: 6-8, Nee. 9:26, Judges 2: 19-20)
Compare with:* 1Pet. 2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
A Matter of “Tense”
The “tense” of a verb tells us whether an action is past, present, or future, as we look at the two passages of scripture above from the Old and New Testaments; this matter of tense reveals a critical difference between them. Please notice the (present tense) of the words: But ye are... in the opening of 1Pet. 2: 9 above, and contrast this to the words: ...then ye shall be... (Future tense), found in verse 5 of Ex. 19. This difference in tense (though seemingly insignificant), is in fact critical to our understanding of how these two covenants differ.
While both covenants (the scriptures above), deal with essentially the same things: God’s people being a peculiar treasure/ peculiar people, a kingdom of priest/ royal priesthood a holy nation; there is one critical difference. In the Old Testament, God is telling the people of Israel that if they obey His voice and keep His covenant, “Then they would be” the things listed above.
The words, ...then ye shall be... put in the context of the proceeding words, especially the word "if", makes it abundantly clear that the things God desired Israel to be, had not yet been realized. As we know from the O.T. scriptures, the people of Israel never did really obey or keep God’s holy covenant. The point being that the Law, and the Prophets, never brought about the perfection and holiness that God desired for His people, Israel. It was all by design as we know now, that the Law with all of it's exacting demands, and the Prophets' words were simply pointing to the Messiah, the anointed one, the Mediator that would usher in the New Covenant. Only then would Israel, and all of mankind be able to truly "please God" and be the Peculiar Treasure and Royal Priesthood that God desired all along...
Now, let us compare this to the words of the Apostle Peter in the N.T.; in 1Pet. 2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people... the present tense of the word are shows us that God now sees His people as being those things He has always desired for His people. Under the Old Covenant/ Law, God’s people could never meet the necessary criteria (obeying God’s voice and keeping His covenant), so they never became what God wanted them to be.
Thankfully, under the New Covenant (because of Christ), we are a special/peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We will address this more fully in the chapter titled “Grace” understanding the New Covenant; but for now simply be aware that the things God desired for His people under the Old Testament are now ours through Christ! Glory to God! AMEN.(See, 2Pet. 1 :3, Eph. 1: 6-9, Rom. 8: 2-3)
A Kingdom of Priests:
Verse 6 of Ex. 19, shows us that it was God’s intent for Israel to be a spiritual kingdom; a nation that would be known for its service to God. To accomplish this, God gave His servant Moses, specific instructions on how His priests should serve Him. For God was looking for a kingdom of holy priests, in essence a ministry unto God serving and glorifying Him. Again, we find that God still desires for His people to be a kingdom of priests; and though some of the aspects of the New Covenant may differ from that of the Old, one thing is certain: we are called to be a Royal Priesthood. (See Rev. 1: 5-6, Rom 12: 1, 1Pet. 2: 9 Compare with: 1 Pet. 2: 5 Ye also, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
It needs to be pointed out that the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood, which was exclusive to only one tribe of Israel (the tribe of Levi); has been done away with under the New Covenant (Heb. 7: 11-12, 19-28, 8: 1-6). And while some churches and denominations have tried to revive the old Levitical Priesthood by establishing a CLERY (a professional order of priests), that is separate and over the rest of the Church body (often referred to as the LAITY); they do so in direct violation of the New Covenant.
The N.T scriptures make it unmistakably clear that all believers are priests under the N.T. and qualified to offer up “spiritual sacrifices” unto God. Let us stress, that under the New Covenant, God never intended for there to be a priesthood/clergy that is separate from the rest of the Body of Christ, let alone be over it. The truth is that the idea of a clergy and laity though now commonly accepted, is unquestionably the invention of man, and just another case of men reverting back to the Law! Surely, most Christians would think it strange if suddenly “circumcision” was to be forced upon the Church as a “necessary requirement”, or if: animal sacrifices” were to be taught as something that the Body of Christ was still obliged to perform...
Conversely, it should be just as strange and unacceptable to us to accept the idea that the Aaronic priesthood is still God's government for His church. The problem is simple: we have been conditioned to accept this practice and teaching as normal or acceptable, because of centuries of growing accustomed to the idea of a clergy and laity division within the body of Christ. Let us assure you, the early first century Church did not teach or practice such a priesthood as is now commonly witnessed in the Church today. One only need read the Book of Acts, or Paul's letter to the Ephesian church to see that the newly established government Christ had established was "a new five fold" government consisting of: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NKJV) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 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; 14 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, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 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. Also see: 1.Co.12:28, Eph.2:20, Eph.3:5
In summary, let us again reemphasize the fact that under the N.T. all believers are priests, called to serve and offer up spiritual sacrifices unto God. Amen! This matter of clergy/laity however, is not to be confused with the (Government of God), That God has ordained and established for His Church. (See. Eph. 4: 11-16). And, while all N.T. believers are priests, we are not all Apostles, Prophets, or Teachers etc.; no, these administrative offices (gifts) are to be viewed as distinct and separate from the office of the priest, of which all believers are called to be.
A HOLY NATION
Again, in verse 6, we see that God’s desire for Israel was of a spiritual nature. Undoubtedly, God intended for Israel to reflect His glory and Holy character to the rest of the nations of the world. And while Israel was indeed of necessity a political body, it was not God’s idea for Israel to have a king; this was in fact, the desire and ambition of Israel who wanted to be like the other nations that surrounded them. (See 1Sam. 8: 4-9) God wanted to be their King but they wanted a man to rule over them.
Without going into detail, suffice to say that the kings of Israel and Judah, were a sore disappointment; Saul, David, Solomon, and all of them fell short of the glory of God. Though God allowed Israel to reject Him as their King, the nation of Israel under the Law and their inferior kings; never achieved God’s desire for them to be a Holy Nation. Sadly, as the sordid history of Israel has shown us the glory and the light that God wanted the nation of Israel to reflect to the rest of the world was never realized.
Not only did Israel fail to be a godly influence to the nations surrounding them; their sins and iniquity reached the point that Israel was a reproach to God, and a cause of ridicule to the other nations. (See, Jer. 23: 40, 24: 8-10) Once again, we find the weight of the Law was too much for the nation of Israel to bear. We will discuss later, why Israel's abysmal failure to keep God's commandments, and their trampling of His holy name throughout the nations; figured prominently in "why the New Covenant" was ordained by God. Thankfully God had something better prepare for us. Amen!
THE LAW ENDS Rom.10:4For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyonethat believeth.
At this point, it needs to be made clear that this period where the Jews were required to observe both the Law and obey the Gospel, would only last up until the time of Jesus death. Technically, the need to keep the Law ended (was fulfilled), when Christ died on the cross. At that time the Jews were released from the Law; and Christ became the "curse" for all mankind(past,present, and future), by hanging on the cross. With the Law "taken out of the way", the Gospel would now take center-stage as the only way men could be saved,whether Jew or Gentile.
Gal. 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree. *note- Let the reader contrast the "tree in the garden" which brought death to all men, with the "tree on Mt. Calvary" which brought life to all men.
In any event, we learn from our brief study of the scriptures concerning this awkward period of transition from Law to Grace, the following:
1. Jesus Christ came to "fulfill the Law", not destroy it.
2. During Jesus' earthly ministry, the Jews were expected to observe the Law of Moses, and also believe the Gospel, at the same time.
3. Jesus was misunderstood, and His radical approach of presenting both the "Law and the Gospel" at the same time, was often met with stiff opposition and rejection.
4. Having to "keep the Law" and also "obey the Gospel", came to an end upon the death of Jesus on the cross; after that time, just "believing/obeying theGospel", became the standard by which the Jews would be judged.
*Note- Those Jews who persisted in clinging to the Law, would be judged according to the Law. see, Rom.2:12
5. Jesus bore the "curse of the Law" for all humanity, when He hung upon the cross. In effect, Christ took our punishment upon Himself for every sin that has, or would ever be committed. (Gal.3:13) WHAT GOSPEL DID JESUS PREACH?
Lk.4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;... To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
It is quite remarkable to learn from the above scripture from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus first announces His earthly ministry; that His first priority is that of "preaching the gospel to the poor". We have just examined the evidence from the scriptures which reveal that during the time of Christ's ministry, the Jews were expected to "keep the Law of Moses", and at the same time "believe the Gospel".
In light of this fact, it is reasonable to ask what gospel was Jesus preaching?; since we know that the Gospel centers around the "death and resurrection of Christ", which had not yet taken place. Ifthe gospel that Paul the apostle preached was built on the facts of Christ's death and resurrection(which from his perspective had already occurred); than what was the basis for Jesus' Gospel, when He had not yet died or rose from; the dead?
(1Co.15:1-4, Paul's Gospel) 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
The answer, though profound is quite simple. Jesus preached the exact same Gospel as Paul, and the other 12 disciples. The only difference is that Jesus"looked ahead" to His death and resurrection (which He viewed as done by faith); while Paul, and the others since the death and resurrection of Christ,; have"looked back"to the these two historical events. So when Jesus preached the Gospel, He spoke of what was to come, as already being; and when Paul or the others have preached the Gospel, they have spoken of what has already been. In both cases, we find a Gospel that centers around the cross and resurrection of Christ.
The point of all this discussion, is to show that the "heart" of the New Covenant, which is the Gospel; was the "same", both before and after the Law was fulfilled (taken out of the way). We may rest assured that the Gospel Jesus preached, and the Gospel Paul preached, was in essence, one and the same. The only difference is in the frame of reference or perspective of those preaching the Gospel. Jesus "looked ahead" to His inevitable death and resurrection, and considered them as accomplished through the "eye of faith". Paul on the other hand, "looked back" on these events as being settled, and exercise "faith" when preaching the Gospel.
The Gospel of Christ/Paul Compared...
JESUS: Mt.17:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
PAUL: 1Co.1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness;; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. also, Jn.3:14
JESUS: Jn.11:25 Jesus said unto her(speaking to Martha), I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
PAUL: 1Co.15:3-4 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: also, Jn.2:19
AFTER THE LAW WAS "FULFILLED" (Entering God's Rest)
Heb.4:9-10 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Immediately following the death of Christ(the law having been fulfilled), we witness another awkward period of Church history. After centuries of being bound and confined to the harsh dictates of the Law, the Jews suddenly find themselves confronted with the task of learning to live under "Grace", and letting go of the Law. Coming out of the dark shadow of the Law, into the light of the New Covenant would prove to be one of the Church's most dif- ficult periods.
Entering the "rest" described above in the book of Hebrews, would be a massive undertaking that would require the Jews to "think and act" differently than they had while living under bondage to the Law and Old Covenant. In effect, they would have to "unlearn" much of what they had been taught to do; and begin to learn to depend on this man named Jesus as their sole source of life,salvation,etc. It would not be easy!
The desire to cling to the Law, and to trust in one's obervance of it, was something that many Jews struggled with daily. Add to this, the fact that Jesus Himself, prior to His crucifixion had taught many of these same Jews to "keep the whole Law"; and now were being taught that the Law was not the way to be righteous before God. Imagine the confusion and difficulty the Jews experienced in trying to adapt to their new-found freedom under the New Covenant.
Now they had to learn to trust wholly in Jesus Christ for their righteousness(in His works), and not their own.(Rom.4:5) During this critical time of transition(moving from the Law to Grace), there were many problems, and arguments within the Church; and it took many years before a general consensus was reached on "how" a Jew was to live in relationship to the Law and Grace. The scriptures below reveal some of the facts concerning this difficult period of Church history.
Rom.7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held: that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Rom.3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Acts 15:10-11 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?(speaking of the Law) But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they.
Gal. 2:161. knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law butby faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. *emphasis mine
THE GENTILES AND THE LAW
Eph.2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, ... That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
Gentile: Web.Dict. 1. a person of non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith
Jew: Web.Dict. 1. a: a member of the tribe of Judah b: ISRAELITE
Strictly speaking, a Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew, that is to say, anyone who is not descended from one of the 12 tribes of Israel, who are all derived from one of the 12 sons of Jacob.(see: GEN.46:1-27, 1 CHR. 1:1-37) Let the reader take note, that at the time of the 1st Reformation(the transition from Law to Grace); most of the known world was comprised of Gentiles, the same as it is today.
While the term Jew, technically refers to a person who is from the tribe of Judah, it is also used in a more general sense to denote anyone who is an Israelite. And, sometimes is used broadly to refer to anyone who practices the Jewish religion (even a converted Gentile).
STRANGERS AND ALIENS
As the scriptures above from Ephesians plainly state, the Gentiles(before receiving the Gospel), were "aliens" to the blessings and riches of Israel, and "strangers" to the covenants God had made with His chosen people. For the most part, with the exception of a few notable individuals(such as: Rahab the Harlot, & Ruth), we find the Gentile nations lost, without God, and steeped in sin and a host of false religious practices. And though a few Gentiles "converted" to the Jewish faith, the Gentiles as a whole went their own spiritual path; which inevitably led them to various forms of idolatry and other spiritual wickedness. (EX.12:12, DEUT.7:4, 1 KGS. 9:9)
Because the Gentiles were not living "under the law", it is reasonable to ask the question: How would God judge them on Judgment Day? What criteria would be used to judge the Gentiles(prior to the Dispensation of Grace), if they were not living according to the Law, and if they were ignorant of it altogether? The apostle Paul, addresses these questions in his letter to the Romans. The following scriptures from Rom.chpt.2, verses 6 through 15; answer these difficult questions, and allows us to see how the Gentiles will be judged who were not living "under the Law".
Rom.2:6-15 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: ... For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Also, let us remember that not only were the Gentiles excluded from the "covenants" found within the Old Testament, but were initially excluded from the New Covenant as well. It was not until the Jews had been given "first" opportunity to hear the Gospel(which most rejected); do we see God commissioning the Apostles to "go to the Gentiles"
Acts.13:46 Then Paul and Barnabus waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
THE JEW "FIRST"
It is interesting to find in examining both the Old and New Testament scriptures a profound spiritual truth concerning God's prescribed order, as it pertains to "who" is to be "first". By "first", we mean who God has chosen to be "first in line" to be given the opportunity to receive the New Covenant. It is evident from both Old and New Testament scriptures, that God has ordained that the "Jews/Israelites" be given "first" priority in being given the opportunity to accept His offer of a New Covenant.
It is only after the Jews have been "first" given this opportunity, that we see God allowing the Gentiles the privilege of hearing the Gospel and being partakers with the Jews in receiving the New Covenant. Please examine the following scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments, and witness the order of the "Jew first, and than the Gentile", which will help you to understand the "Fellowship of the Mystery", which will be addressed later.
Jer.31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:(please note, there is no mention of the Gentiles in this prophecy)
Mt.10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Rom.1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek(Gentile)
THE JEWS REJECT THEIR MESSIAH
The most tragic story in all of religious history is undoubtedly the rejection by the Jews of Jesus Christ, their Messiah. While many theories and opinions have circulated over the centuries as to "why" the Jews did not acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, the answers are all to be found in the pages of the scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments. What is important for us to understand is that the Jews were given the "first" opportunity to hear, and receive the New Covenant (with the Gospel at its center); but as a whole, they rejected it along with its principle messenger, Jesus Christ Himself!
Isa.53:1-3 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?... He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Jn.1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Acts.13:46 Then Paul and Barnabus waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it frorm you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.also see:
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY (The Times Of The Gentiles)
Eph.3:4-9 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. ... that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, ...
While the scriptures reveal that the Jews were to be "first" to be offered the New Covenant, we find that the Gentiles would eventually be invited into this "divine fellowship", but only after the Jews as a whole had rejected God's New Covenant. The scriptures below, from both the Old and New Testaments, allow us to see that God had planed for the Gentiles to be included in His marvelous plan of salvation long before Paul began an earthly ministry to the non-Jews. This window of opportunity, for the Gentiles to be included with the Jews, in God's wonderful plan of salvation is referred to in the scriptures as: "The Fellowship Of The Mystery", and is also described as the: "Times of the Gentiles"see also: ( Isa.42:6,49:6/ Hos.1:10,2:23/ Amos 9:11-12)
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
The scriptures above reveal that this "season" where the Gentiles would be granted access to the New Covenant, would be a "set period of time", having a distinct beginning and ending. Undoubtedly, we are now in the last stages of this period of Church history referred to as: The "Times of the Gentiles". This dispensation, began with Christ's commission to the apostles to "go to the Gentiles"; and will end when the "fullness of the Gentiles" has transpired. Acts.13:47 For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘ I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ see also: (Acts.9:15)
Rom. 11:25-26 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness inpart ishappened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. ... And so all Israel shall be saved: ...
While we are not given an exact time when this dispensation to the Gentiles will end, we are given a "hint" as to when the Jews eyes will be opened; when they will recognize Christ as their Messiah.
Rev. 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
The scripture above, clearly speaks of the Jews(as they are the ones who are responsible for his crucifixion/being "pierced"), and lets us know that the Jews "eyes will be opened", when Christ appears at his 2nd Coming. The conclusion we may draw from this scripture is that when Jesus Christ appears again, God will allow the Jews eyes to be opened, and to "recognize" Jesus as their long awaited Messiah. We may understand this event to be the formal "end" of the "Times of the Gentiles", and the period of Church history where the Jews are brought into the "Fellowship of the Mystery" that Paul speaks of in his writings to the Romans. see: Rom. Chpt. 11/entire chpt.
Note* At this time, only a remnant of Jews(the elect), have turned to Jesus and obeyed the gospel; but after the "Times of the Gentiles" has been fulfilled, God will turn the heart of his people back to Himself. Rom.11: 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
PETER AND PAUL (The Same Gospel)
Before we examine the contents of the New Covenant, let us address a common misunderstanding which exists concerning the ministries of Peter and Paul; two of the most prominent apostles of the first century. Regrettably, there are those who teach that Paul and Peter proclaimed two distinct "gospels". Paul, a "gospel" to the Gentiles; and Peter, a "gospel" to the Jews. And while it is true that Paul and Peter both "specialized" in reaching out to distinct groups: Peter, mainly to the "Jews", and Paul, mainly to the "Gentiles", both apostles in fact, preached the one and same gospel!Gal. 2:7-9 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me(speaking of Paul), as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision(the Jews), the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles; ...
There is no scriptural or historical evidence that Paul or Peter ever preached two distinct gospels; on the contrary we find that both groups(the Jews and Gentiles), were required to believe and obey the "same" gospel. Both Jew and Gentile were presented with the "cross and resurrection", as the basis of their salvation.(1 Co. 15:1-4, Rom. 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel ofChrist: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile)
Let us make no mistake, both Paul and Peter preached the "same" gospel; and though there ministries differed in many respects, they only delivered "one gospel" to those they preached to. The following scriptures reveal how God used Paul and Peter to reach their respective groups (Paul/ the Gentiles--Peter/ the Jews); and yet always using the "same Gospel" to accomplish this task.
GAL.2:7-9 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for theuncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. see: Acts.9:15, 22:21, 2 Tim.1:10, Eph. 3:1-12
The Lord Jesus, Paul, and Peter and all the other apostles from the days of the of the early church have all preached the same gospel of “repentance, and faith in the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus... the commission to “whom” and “where” has always been by divine appointment; but let us make no mistake. The message of the gospel/New Covenant has remained the same except where we find false prophets/ministers perverting and twisting the original message that was once handed down to us... As Jude so aptly admonishes his readers(that includes us today).
JUDE 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to youexhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was *once for all delivered to the saints. (*emphasis mine)
GAL. 1:6-9 … , but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Next we will examine the “superiority of the New Covenant” over the Old Covenant, and how it is established upon “better promises”... As we shall see, living under this Dispensation of Grace is something which many died without seeing in their lives. We have been privileged and honored to be among those who have received the “promises” and “blessings” that are ours through the sacrifices paid by Jesus – and all those who have spent themselves for the cause of the gospel.
Heb. 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
the new covenant / the new testament
WHY GOD GAVE MANKIND THE NEW COVENANT
IT'S MORE HIM, THAN US...
It is surprising to learn just "why" God gave mankind the New Covenant... I say this only because most Christians, and the lost for that matter think it was pure altruism or sympathy on God's part as the basis for "why" we now live under a New Covenant, or a New Testament as it may also be called. Yes, John 3:16 reminds all of us that it is God's love for us that sent Jesus to die for our sins - that is a fact. Ah, but that is only part of the narrative of this beautiful love song of our God.
We find that while it was love that sent Jesus to die for all of us, it was something else that moved God to commission what we now call the: NEW COVENANT. This may come as a surprise to many people today, Christians and non -Christians alike. The New Covenant was really not centered on us (though we've been led to think that); but rather it's God's way of ensuring that His name would be honored and glorified in all of heaven and earth. By stopping the vicious power of evil through sin, Jesus Christ secured the right, the privilege, and ability for all of us to truly "honor" God's name.
HALLOWED BE THE NAME...
Matthew 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
As we shall see, this being first and foremost in Jesus instructions on how we are to pray, is not to be taken lightly... it is the key to understanding why we were given the New Covenant. It's worth noting that Jesus our Lord began this prayer with clear instructions to: Reverence and honor our Heavenly Father's name! That dear friends, was intentional, and by design for us to take note of... as we dig deeper and deeper into God's holy word; we find that "honoring God's name" is at the heart of all Jesus did, and all we are to do as well.
hal·lowed adj \ˈha-(ˌ)lōd, ˈha-ləd, in the Lord's Prayer often ˈha-lə-wəd\
Definition of HALLOWED 1: holy, consecrated <the church stands on hallowed ground> 2: sacred, revered <the university's hallowed halls> <hallowed customs> See hallowed defined for English-language learners »
GOD'S NAME IS PROFANED...
If you are impatient or in a hurry this is not for you... but if you really want to understand why you and I were given this wonderful New Covenant/Testament by God - take a few precious minutes, and discover how important God views "honoring" His' name. IT IS A BIG DEAL!
Ezekiel 36:16-21 (NKJV)
The Renewal of Israel
16 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. 19 So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds. 20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.(my emphasis)
THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE
Jer.31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother,saying Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
THE FIRST REFORMATION (Heb. 9:1-10)
The scriptures above, from the book of Jeremiah clearly reveal that God had determined to establish a "New Covenant" with the house of Judah and Israel long before Jesus Christ would appear to "fulfill" the righteousness requirements of the Law. (Gal.4:4-5) But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
This prophecy out of the mouth of the prophet, Jeremiah concerns itself with a "change" or "shaking", that was to begin with the coming of the Messiah: Jesus Christ. This period of time is referred to by the writer of Hebrews, as the " time of reformation". (Heb. 9:10) Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
While most Christians today associate the idea of the "reformation" with Martin Luther and John Calvin, etc; the "first" reformation was actually initiated by God through the person of Jesus Christ. It was this "reformation" which was to turn the religion of the Jews and nation of Israel, upside down! In studying the life of Christ, and the early apostles, we discover that their work to "reform" Judaism from the Law/Old Covenant, to Grace under the New Covenant; was met with stiff opposition from both the Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as other groups within the whole of Judah and Israel.
Heb. 8:7-8 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 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 the house of Judah;...
The Blood Covenant (Heb. 9:20-22)
We may conclude from the scriptures above that God had determined a set time when the Old Covenant would be replaced by a new covenant. This time of reformation would begin with the Jews and nation of Israel, but would ultimately involve the Gentiles as well. The New Covenant began at the point Jesus Christ started His ministry, and was formally announced at the Last Supper, when Christ shared communion with His disciples. Finally, it was "sealed" when Jesus died upon the cross, where His blood became the "blood of the testament"; the means whereby all men could find access to God.
Heb.9:14-15 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. also, (Lk.3:23/4:16-21) (Mt.26:26-28), (Heb.9:11-12)
Before Jesus Christ finished the works He came to do, and by that we mean "fulfilling" all of the prophetic scriptures concerning exactly what the Messiah would do - Christ formally announced and instituted the New Covenant. We find Jesus declaring openly to His disciples just prior to His crucifixion and final hours of agony and suffering, the essence of this New Covenant He would seal with the shedding of His own divine blood. In the simplest of terms, Jesus set forth the real meaning of "what" His death would mean; though we can be quite certain the full gravity and significance of Jesus final words in the upper room would not register in their hearts and minds until Christ had arisen from the dead...
Mt. 26:26-28 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. also see: Mk.14:22-25, Lk.22:19-20
Before we examine the New Covenant in depth, let us look at a few scriptures which reveal to us when the Old Covenant/Law was taken out of the way, and what actually occurred at that time. Not surprisingly, the New Covenant was ushered in with great drama and intensity. IT IS FINISHED!
Jn.19:28-30 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. .... When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
This verse from the Gospel of John informs us of "when" the dispensation of the Law came to an end. It could only occur "after" all things prophesied concerning the life, and cruel suffering of Christ had been fulfilled. When all these prophecies had been fulfilled, exactly, according to the scriptures then, and only then could the Law be fulfilled. In the words of Jesuss: "It is finished", we see the demands and requirements of the Law kept; and at that point in time, the Law was being taken out of the way. In effect, the Law was nailed to the cross in the person of Christ. Jesus could say,"It is finished", because He knew the Law's demands had been met and satisfied by His own suffering and obedience.
And though Jesus would still need to "die" and "rise" from the dead to fulfill all of the scriptures; Jesus knew that the Law had been kept, and His work was technically at an end. Simply put, the Dispensation of the Law was now coming to an end! What followed this announcement,was nothing short of cataclysmic to say the least. Please examine the following scriptures as they describe what happened immediately after Christ uttered the words: "It is finished"
Mk.15:37-38 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. (Hear:Beyond the Veil at:https://www.reverbnation.com/michaeldaigle/song/25554207-beyond-the-veil )
Mt. 27:51-53 ...and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;... That this "First Reformation" began with such a shaking of the earth, and with the veil within the temple being torn in two, should not go unnoticed. God was making it clear that a great "change" was taking place. The Old Covenant was being replaced by a New and Better Covenant, and God wanted there to be no mistake, the old way of doing things was now coming to an end!
THE FINAL SACRIFICE
Simply put, the announcement by Christ, that "It is finished", meant that His body could now be offered up to God as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. In Christ, the "righteous one", we find an "acceptable sacrifice"; one that God would find sufficient to atone for the sins of all humanity, once and for all time! Make no mistake, when Jesus said, "It is finished", it was over; the Law, all 3434 commands were now nailed to the cross. (COL. 2:13-14) And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
In effect, the Law was at that point in time: ENDED. AMEN!
Heb. 10:1-10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. ...In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. ...Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first,that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
In "reforming" the Old Covenant, it is important to point out that merely altering a few things, or simply making "superficial" changes would never be adequate. It is clear from the words found in the prophecy of Jeremiah(see scriptures above), that God clearly intended on making "major" changes in His relationship to Judah and Israel. These changes would necessitate the formation of a "New Covenant"; the Old Covenant would not be adequate for the wonderful things God was preparing to do for those privileged to live under the "Dispensation of Grace". The initial phase of this dispensation is known as the "time of reformation", or the "early days of the Church".
IS THE NEW COVENANT CONDITIONAL? (Heb. 8: 7-8)
We have explained in great detail from the scriptures, why God gave mankind the New Covenant/The New Testament; and also discussed the awkward transition that occurred as the Jews moved from living under the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. We revealed how the Gentiles were allowed entrance into this "fellowship", after the Jewish nation had first been delivered the Gospel message.
After the majority of Jews had rejected their Messiah, the gospel was then offered to the gentiles - all in accordance with the God's eternal plan to offer salvation to all of mankind. The Jews were first in line to be presented the New Covenant, and then only after they had rejected gospel message(though not all Jews), would the gospel of grace/The New Covenant be presented to the gentiles...
For Gentiles, this was not only a "New Covenant" - it was in fact - the "only covenant" they had ever been formally introduced to. It was for the Jews who received it, their "2nd Covenant" - a "Better Covenant"; which we will address more fully in the concluding chapter: A BETTER COVENANT Let us now look closely at what The New Covenant is in plain terms, and also how it is is many respects not unlike the Old Covenant with respect to God's demands for "obedience" and "compliance" to be our part in this contract with mankind.
While most would agree that we cannot do anything to "save ourselves" - that can only be accomplished through the "finished works" of Jesus Christ , that is His perfect and sinless life, His all sufficient sacrifice for our sins on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead... It is also clear, to anyone who seriously examines the whole of scripture, and specifically the teachings and commands of Jesus and the apostles - that merely acknowledging and assenting mentally to biblical truth is not sufficient to satisfy the terms and conditions set forth by God in The New Testament. We the authors, believe that "faith without works" is as James declares in his letter so succinctly: IS DEAD! James 2:20 (NKJV) 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? see also: James 2:26
Without going into a lengthy defense of that point, let us simply state the obvious to anyone who has examined closely the terms and conditions God has set forth to anyone wishing to enter into this "covenant of grace". Without obedience or compliance to the commandments of Christ, and the apostolic teachings given in the New Testament scriptures; one should not expect or be surprised that God does not guarantee or honor promises when "the conditions" of The New Covenant have not been met... Without any doubt, it is clear that the New Covenant is in fact: conditional.
To the surprise and dismay of many modern day Christians(often simply churchgoers), finding out that God expects us, the followers of Jesus Christ to have to do something to receive benefits, flies in the face of many who teach an "easy gospel", where we are required to do little but say "yes to Jesus" and then wait patiently until we draw our last breath. Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, while we can't buy grace, or earn our way into heaven, that does not mean God doesn't expect us to "obey and keep" His holy commands.
On the contrary, we shall clearly show that while grace is free, and salvation is a "gift" that no man or woman can bargain God for; there are "conditions" that are nonetheless required of all who enter in this covenant of grace... We aren't talking about "perfection" here, but we are talking about obeying God's commandments and not "hiding behind" a facade of religious pretense or worse yet, religious delusion.
NEW: Web.Dict: 1. Having existed or having been made but a short time: RECENT 5. Different from one of the same category that has existed previously
From the definitions above, we can see that this "New" Covenant was to be brought into existence or being, at a specific point in time; consequently, it would be at that time considered to be: "new" Let us realize that from our perspective, looking back through the window of time, the New Covenant(now around 2000 yrs old), does not seem that new. However, to the Jews and nation of Israel, the Gospel of Grace and teachings of Christ and His apostles would have certainly been considered "new"! It is all really a matter of perspective; so when the prophet Jeremiah spoke(centuries before Christ would initiate the New Covenant), it was in fact, a "New Covenant".
The next significant thing we learn is that the word "new" denotes something that is "different from one of the same category that has existed previously".(see 5, above) Clearly, as we shall discuss next, the New Covenant is different from the Old Covenant, but undoubtedly both covenants are from the "same category"; and without question, we know that the Old Covenant existed previously to the New Covenant. What we learn from this simple examination of the word "NEW" is this:
1. The New Covenant would be "different" from the Old Covenant
2. The New Covenant would be in the "same category" as the Old Covenant
*note* : by "same category", it should be noted that both the Old and New Covenants were "Agreements" in essence promises made by God to His people.
A "Conditional" Agreement
Before we examine the differences that exist between the New and Old Covenants; let us briefly look at one important feature that "both" covenants have in common. We find from our analysis of both covenants, that both the Old and New Covenants are in fact: conditional
That is to say that the "blessings and curses" and "rewards and punishments", found in both covenants; are directly tied to "conditions and requirements"; that first must be met before they can be experienced or realized by the individual(regardless of what covenant we are speaking of).
This truth is important because it points out that under both covenants; God still requires "obedience" in order to inherit the blessing, and "disobedience" before one is found deserving of being "punished". Under the dispensation of the Law, we find God rewarding or punishing individuals on the basis of their "obedience or disobedience" to the Law. And, under the dispensation of Grace we observe God still judging individuals on the basis of their "obedience or disobedience" to the New Covenant/Gospel.
The following scriptures from the Old and New Testaments, reveals that while the contents of both covenants may differ; the basis for God's ultimate judgement is essentially the same: "obedience or disobedience" to his revealed will. So we may conclude that while the contents of both covenants may differ(as we shall see), the requirement of the individual to "obey" has never changed! God always requires the individual to keep his commands(regardless of which covenant one is under), and He ultimately will judge a person on the basis of his or her compliance, or failure to keep His covenant.
The good news, or should we say "exceedingly good news" is that God knows we are incapable of consistently keeping His commandments, as we so clearly see illustrated through the nation of Israel's consistent failure to obey and keep God's ordinances and commandments. That fact as we have shown from the scriptures(esp.in the book of Jeremiah),is why God instituted the New Covenant. As we shall see in the final chapter, keeping the demands of the New Testament is not only possible; but takes considerable effort and deliberate acts of disobedience to not keep!
In the end, we shall discover that though we have the Holy Spirit, the New Covenant, the Holy Scriptures, and the benefit of centuries of Christian theology, teaching and tradition at our disposal (all contained now in a single microchip); we still have the free will to "disobey" and "choose" to follow God or someone or something else... God has rendered all post resurrection saints and hearers of the gospel "excuseless"; or put another way: God can and will do no more to make the way to heaven, to Himself any easier. (This will be dealt with more fully in the closing chapter/BETTER PROMISES.)
A CLOSE LOOK AT THE WORD: " if " *Understanding the meaning of this word will unlock the key to understanding why both the Old & New Covenants are "conditional...
THE DEFINITION OF: if /Dictionary.com / http://www.dictionary.com/browse/if
*Note - when God uses the word "if" in stating the terms of both the Old and New Covenants, the idea conveyed is that any promises or curses mentioned, are always contingent or tied to the obedience or disobedience of those God is covenanting with.
THE OLD AND NEW COVENANTS CONTRASTED
1. THE OLD COVENANT: Eze.18:entire chpt. - verse 20/ The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. also see: Num 15:30-31,
BLESSINGS: Deut.28:1-14- And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord the God, to observe and to do all his command- ments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth. ...(please see chpt.28, for entire text)
CURSES: Deut.28:15-68, But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. ... (please see chpt.28, for entire text) also: Jn.12:48, Gal.3:10
2. THE NEW COVENANT: Gal.6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption(curses); but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.(blessing). please note-italics is not in original text.
BLESSINGS: Rev.22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. also: 1 Pet.3:10-12, Jn.15:10-11, Rev. 2:7, 9-10,17, 25-28, Rev.3:10-12, 14:13, 19:7-9, 21:7-8, 22:7
CURSES: 1 Co.6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. also: Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving(disobedient), and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. please note/italics is not in original text. also: Gal.5:19-21, 1 Tim.4:1, Jn.14:24
The above scriptures show that both the Old and New Covenants use the criteria of "obedience or disobedience" as the basis for how an individual will be "rewarded/blessed", or "punished/cursed". Though this feature is common to both covenants(though the commands are different), there are some significant differences between the two covenants that need to be addressed. Let us now turn our attention to those "things" which clearly distinguish the New Covenant as a "superior" covenant compared to the Old; and specifically, those features which provide for a "better covenant" established on "better promises".
In the final chapter, ON BETTER PROMISES; we will show the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old, and also show the superiority of Jesus Christ to all the prophets, and priests who came before and after Him. We rejoice in the fact that we have received in full, what many died hoping for - what many prophesied would happen in the future, though they did not know clearly the time or specifics... While there are many promises that we the church of Jesus Christ are still waiting to see fulfilled in these last days; we do rejoice in the wonderful promises and blessings that are ours under The New Covenant that we have been privileged to have and live under. amen
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SOURCES REFERENCED...
1. Dake, Finis Jennings, Dake's Annotated Reference Bible 2. Strong, James, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible 3. Webster's Dictionary, Ottenheimer Publishing 4. Vine,W.E.,Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words 5. GOOGLE and BING search engines 6. Zodhiates Hebrew Dictionary 7. Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/
An *asterisk and number in parenthesis is used to denote material referenced in this writing...