Dear Brethren,

The subject of the Old and New Covenants is considered trite and hackneyed by some who think the issue has become stale through overuse.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  Since the Biblical covenants are nothing less than the promises of God, their meanings are a virtual treasure trove of hope for God's people today.  A covenant is a binding agreement between two (or more) entities.  When God enters into a covenant, He always performs what He has promised to do.

For example, because of God's covenant with Noah, we know that the world and mankind will never again be destroyed by a great flood.  Notice how God phrased it:  "I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."  (Genesis 9:11)  To this very day, every time we see a rainbow in the sky, we can take God's promise for granted.  He said, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."   (Genesis 9:13)

God made a covenant with Abraham.  Specific promises of blessings were made to Abraham and his descendants if Abraham would leave his home country of Ur of the Chaldees, travel to the land of Canaan, and walk uprightly (perfect) before God.  "Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."  (Genesis 26:5)  This same covenant was confirmed to Isaac.  "My covenant will I establish with Isaac - and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed [starting with Jacob] after him. "  (Genesis 17:21,19)

Isaac, in turn blessed Jacob who's name was changed to Israel (Genesis 27:30).  Abraham's descendants grew to become the nation of Israel.  They found themselves in Egyptian bondage, and their cry came up to God.  "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them."  (Exodus 2:24,25)  God delivered Israel from Egyptian captivity.

Through Moses God told all Israel:  "If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a special treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine."   (Exodus 19:5)  God promised to make Israel a great physical nation "If" they would obey Him.  Israel agreed, thereby entering into a covenant relationship with God.  "All the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do."  (Exodus 19:8)   Israel affirmed, and then reaffirmed that they would keep all the laws of God.  "Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord has said will we do."  (Exodus 24:3)

This covenant made at Mt. Sinai came to be known as the "Old" Covenant.  Israel was confident that they would and could fulfill the requirement of obedience to God and His laws.  God gave them His great spiritual law defining, in principle, His way of life.  It was the same spiritual law which pre-dated, and was given to Adam and Eve.  Israel was to obey the Ten Commandments, along with Statutes and Judgments.  "These are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it."  (Deuteronomy 6:1)

God and Israel entered into a marriage covenant - the Old Covenant.  Jesus Christ, God of the Old Testament, was the "husband" and provider for Israel.  Israel, in turn, promised to be faithful to Jesus Christ.  All marriage covenants exist only until the death of one of the parties - that is the nature of a marriage vow or covenant.  "The woman which has a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband."   (Romans 7:2, 1Corinthians 7:39)  Since the Ten Commandments, Statutes and Judgments were in force prior to the Old Covenant marriage with Israel, they were not abolished at the death of Jesus Christ when the Old Covenant came to an end.

The argument is made that Jesus' death did away with the entire Old Testament system - clean and unclean food laws, Passover, and the Feasts of the Lord, the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, etc.  Let's understand that the laws of God that existed prior to the Old Covenant would have continued to exist if a marriage covenant had never been made.  Any subsequent covenant, then, could not retroactively abolish any pre-existing laws of God.  However, ritual laws which were added as a result of violations of the Old Covenant, would only last as long as the Old Covenant, itself, was in effect - that is, until the death of Jesus Christ.  The end of the Old Covenant could not have done away with the distinction between clean and unclean animals which clearly dates back to a time prior to Noah's ark, some one thousand years before the Old Covenant began.  (Genesis 7:2)

Paul explained that the temporary ritualistic laws and sacrifices were added on account of "transgressions" by the Israelites.  The Israelites broke their covenant promise by breaking God's Ten Commandments, Statutes and Judgments which existed before they entered into their marriage covenant.  "What purpose does the [ritualistic] law then serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed [Jesus] should come to whom the promise was made."  (Galatians 3:19)  The end of the Old Covenant does not mean the end of the spiritual law upon which the covenant is based.

Israel did not have the strength of character to remain faithful to God.  A repentant attitude was missing in them.  "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!"  (Deuteronomy 5:29)  The New Covenant will be a new marriage contract God makes with spiritual Israel.   (Galatians 6:16)

"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 an husband unto them, saith the Lord."  (Jeremiah 31:31,32)

When Christ returns and pours out His Holy Spirit on mankind, it will then be possible for man to live according to God's perfect law of love.  Then, because of God's divine nature in man, man will no longer sin.  With God's Holy Spirit, we can live according to the eternal law of love.  God has promised us this eternal inheritance.


Sermon:  "Covenants"