Old and New Covenant
Many times we have heard that we are under the “New Covenant”. What does that mean? Does that mean that the law of God is no longer binding? Does that mean that we no longer have to obey our precious heavenly Father? Does that mean that the “Old Covenant” was not quite right, and God had to come up with a “New Covenant”? Or, perhaps it is just another trick of the devil to confuse us, and to get us thinking that we really do not have to take God seriously.
What is a covenant? There are many types and forms, but basically a covenant is an agreement between two parties based upon mutual promise. God made an agreement with the children of Israel:
“And the Lord said unto Moses, write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:27,28
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.” Exodus 19:5, 8
“And he (Moses) sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people; and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” Exodus 24:5-8
“For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people. Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” Hebrews 9:19, 20
The children of Israel promised that they would honor their agreement or covenant with God and keep His commandments. But, they failed miserably:
“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him. Up, make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, these by thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And Moses turned and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand; the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” Exodus 32:1-8 ,15, 16, 19, 26-28
When we read the Bible, we find that the children of Israel were a stiff-necked, rebellious people. The Lord was very wroth with them because they would not obey Him and keep the agreement or covenant that He made with them. It grieved Him terribly, and He pleaded many times with them to stop, and to put away their sinful conduct and turn back to Him and keep the covenant. He sent 3 ½ years of drought. He sent famine, plagues and pestilence among them. He sent their enemies to fight against them and allowed them to be taken captive by their enemies and forced into slavery. Check out Deuteronomy 28. In the first 14 verses of Deuteronomy 28, God promises to bless His people, if they keep His commandments. From verse 15 to the end of the chapter God pronounces a curse upon them, if they did not.
But, friends are we doing the same thing today? We may live in the 21st Century but honestly, we are just as stiff-necked and rebellious as the children of Israel were hundreds of years ago. Are we not? Sad! Sad! How longsuffering, merciful, patient and loving our sweet Jesus is to put up with us. The majority in this world have no desire to keep God’s Ten Commandments. Even many of the religious leaders throughout the world are not keeping all ten of God’s Commandments. For hundreds of years we have been honoring the tradition of keeping Sunday, the 1st day of the week, as the Sabbath instead of obeying God and keeping Saturday, the 7th day of the week as the Sabbath. And, we often disobey God’s other commandments, as well.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8
“Love” is the key word. The covenant or agreement is based on “love”. Who do the majority in this world sincerely love? Who do you and I sincerely love?
May I say, had the children of Israel loved God with all their “heart, mind, soul and strength”, they would have kept the agreement. They would have obeyed God. But, they were so caught up with themselves and the things of this world that they were not able to.
Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments; and abide in his love.” John 15:10
“He that hath my commandments; and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” I John 5:3
Keeping God’s Ten Commandments is, also, a sign that we know Him: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” I John 2:3
What about the “New Covenant”? Many religious leaders of today tell us that we are under the “New Covenant” and do not have to keep the Ten Commandments anymore.
Let’s go to the Bible and read the “New Covenant” for ourselves:
“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 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 with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 8:6-12
“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 an 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, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 31:32, 33
The “Old Covenant” was ratified by the blood of animals and based upon the promises of the people that they would keep God’s law.
“And he (Moses) sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people; and they said, all that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” Exodus 24:5-8
“For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people. Saying, this is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” Hebrews 9:19, 20
The “New Covenant” is based on God’s promise to write His law in our hearts and it was ratified with the blood of Jesus Christ.
Instead of an ox having to shed its blood, the sinless Son of God would provide the blood of sprinkling:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20, 21
What a contrast to the weak promises of the flesh made by Israel at Sinai. Instead of the people’s “we will do,” God’s “New Covenant” promise is to “make you perfect in every good work…working in you.” It is no longer human effort. It is not so much you working, but Him “working in you.” And how is this power made available? “through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” Because of what Jesus did on the cross. Praise Him!!
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
“And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27