Books and Tapes
Your Comments
What's New
Donations
Links
Home


Two Contrasting Covenants - Part 1

TWO CONSTRASTING COVENANTS - Part 1

 

Sam Pestes

 

End the confusion over conflicting views on prophecy!
Now you can discover and know for yourself which prophecies were fulfilled at the cross and which remain to this day. Is it safe to entrust your eternal life to the "experts" as the Jews did?

 

The key is in the covenants God gave to Abraham and to Moses.
Question: Was the covenant God gave to Moses at Sinai intended to complete the covenant of faith He gave to Abraham centuries earlier, or was it a contrast to the covenant of faith?

 

Let's start at the beginning. It's a very good place to start. How, by whom and why were these two covenants presented? Answer these three questions and the puzzle comes together. First, let's start with Abraham. "And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces." Genesis 15:17.

 

Genesis 15:17 shows two symbols, representing two Personalities, accepting Abraham's sacrifice and putting together the covenant of Righteousness by Faith while Abraham was in a deep sleep. This covenant had no human input! Upon awakening, Abraham accepted it as a "done deal."

 

In Hebrews 9:16, the covenant of righteousness by Faith is compared to a will that takes effect only after the one who made that will has died. The argument is made that it was Christ's death that gave life and reality to Righteousness by Faith, because He and God the Father together made that covenant (will) to begin with. That will (covenant) took effect when Christ died.
In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. Hebrews 9:16,17.

 

According to Hebrews 9:16, only the death of one who makes a covenant can confirm it. This is proof that if Christ was not the Author of this covenant (the covenant of Righteousness by Faith), His death could not have confirmed it!

Fact:


The Old Testament can only be understood correctly when it is viewed through the teachings of Jesus and New Testament writers who were personally tutored by Him. The limitation of human reasoning is evidenced by the fact that the world's finest scholars, the Jews, couldn't even recognize their own Messiah because they relied solely on logic instead of revelation. 1 Cor. 2:7-10.

 

Where in the Bible is there any record that Jesus Christ made Abraham and his spiritual family the beneficiaries of the covenant (will) of Righteousness by faith? That event is recorded in Genesis chapter 15:17 where we read that while Abraham was in a deep sleep, "a burning furnace, (or a smoking oven) and a flaming torch (or light) appeared and passed between the pieces (of Abraham's sacrificial offering). The fact that Christ's death ratified, or confirmed that covenant is evidence that He had to be its Author!

 

The symbol of a smoking furnace, or a fire that consumes, often refers to God the Father. Deut. 4:24.
Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up like the smoke from a furnace. Exodus 19:18

 

The blazing Torch, or Light of the world points to Jesus. John 1:6-9.
This man (John) came to witness, that he might testify of the Light, that all men might believe in it...He was not the Light himself, but came that he might bear witness regarding the Light. There it was; the true Light [was then] coming into the world-the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light- that illumines every person. (Amp).

 

In view of this truth, the "burning torch," seen in Genesis 15:17, had to represent Christ who co-authored that agreement with God the Father who was symbolized by the "smoking furnace." Psalm 119:105

 

Before we go on, let us "clear the deck" of some theological clutter. The covenant guaranteeing Righteousness by faith in Christ had nothing to do with temporal blessings or with land claims in the Middle East. The symbolic temporal promises came under the covenant of circumcision and were shared by Ishmael and Isaac. This is the reason why the New Testament discounts the emphasis on circumcision and on land claims. Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised first, and Isaac followed some 15 years later. Gen. 17:23-27. Hebrews chapter 9 speaks specifically to the theme of salvation and the cleansing from sin. Because Abraham understood this principle, his focus was not on any land claims, but "on the city whose builder and Maker is God." See Hebrews 11:8-10 and Acts 7:5.

 

By contrast, the Sinai Covenant was put together by God on the one hand, and Moses, a mere man, acting as mediator on behalf of Israel. Christ was not the Mediator of the Sinai Covenant! There is no evidence that the Light of the World, the Burning Lamp, officiated at the giving of the Law. Moses was asked by the Jews to act as their mediator. The Sinai Covenant merely pointed Israel to Jesus, the Mediator of the Abrahamic Covenant of Righteousness by Faith that He would later confirm with His own blood. Hebrews 8:6,7.

 

Question: Why does Scripture refer to the Abrahamic Covenant, the first one presented by God, as the "New," while the Sinai Covenant, which was presented to Israel later, was called the "first" or the "Old Covenant?" Hebrews 8:13.

 

Note: The covenants are not referred to as the "Old" and the "New" because of the order in which they were presented to mankind, but because of the order in which they were confirmed, or ratified, the Old with the blood of animals at Sinai, and the "New", many years later, with the blood of the Son of God, Jesus, at Calvary.

 

What was wrong with the Sinai (Old) Covenant? Hebrews 8:7.
At Sinai, Israel requested that Moses mediate with God on their behalf. Israel promised that, "We will do everything that the Lord has said." Exodus 19:8. Israel also requested that their righteousness should be determined by their ability to perform anything that God may require. They were so confident that they had the ability to please God, that they selected to preface their agreement to this covenant with an all important "If". See Deuteronomy 6:25. They rejected the idea of a divine Mediator.

 

In response, to accommodate their immaturity and arrogance, God agreed. His response was:
"Now if you obey and fully keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession." Exodus 19:5. That word "if" prefaced every promise made to the nation of Israel.

 

Was the Sinai Covenant "Irrevocable?"

 

You must personally read Jeremiah 11:3-8 and 18:1-12, among many other texts, to be convinced that if the party to a covenant made with God failed to perform as agreed, then that covenant (agreement) became null and void. It was not God who abrogated the covenant made with Israel. God never breaks His promises! It was Israel who annulled that covenant by repeatedly failing to live up to the terms they had agreed to.

 

By contrast, Abraham was not required to do anything but believe God and trust God to do what He promised to do. There were no conditions attached to the covenant God gave to Abraham except to surrender his total life, with all his desires into God's care. Have you unconditionally "sold out to God?" has always been the deciding factor. Genesis 15:6. Christ's death and resurrection marked the end of the Sinai Covenant in its entirety together with its conditional promises. Colossians 2:13-17. Jeremiah 18:5-12 removes all doubt regarding the conditional nature of God's promises to natural Israel who were bound under the Sinai Covenant based on performance.

 

These conditional promises must not be confused with the unconditional promises God gave to Abraham's spiritual descendants, who are the real Israel. "God's gifts and His call are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29) because He promised them to Abraham's spiritual descendants, and not to a nation that would betray the Son and crucify Him.

 

Remember that Romans 9:6-8, which sets the stage for chapter eleven, clearly distinguishes between the two "Israels."
It is not as though God's word has failed...For it is not everybody who is a descendant of Jacob (Israel) who belongs to the true Israel. And they are not all the children of Abraham because they are by blood his descendants. [No, the promise was,] Your descendants will be called and counted through the line of Isaac... That is to say, it is not the children of the body [of Abraham] who are made God's children, but it is the offspring to whom the promise applies that shall be counted [as Abraham's true] descendants. (Amp).

 

It was not the natural, but the spiritual descendants of Abraham who are the "Israel" Paul was referring to in Romans 11:26, where he stated that "...all Israel will be saved."

 

Christ nailed the Old Covenant, with all its conditional promises and prophecies to the cross.
Hebrews 8:9 tells us that, "He sets aside the first (covenant) to establish the second." Hebrews 8:13 says the Old Covenant had become obsolete and was ready to vanish away. That included not only the shell, or framework of that covenant, but all its contents. If you still have questions about this fact, please read 2 Corinthians chapter 3.

 

The New Covenant is based solely on faith in Christ's ability to "keep us from falling." See Jude, verse 24. Nothing could be added to it once it was delivered to Abraham.
Its terms were complete and final. Galatians 3:15-19 is enough to convince any honest skeptic.

 

By contrast , after Israel forfeited their rights to enter the Promised Land, God re-directed them to the Sinai Desert where all of the older generation died. They never did enter the Promised Land God had promised to give them. Hebrews 3: 16-19. Why? Later, Israel received numerous promises of a future glory for their nation, but these also would be realized only "if" they remained faithful to the covenant they made with God to obey Him in all things. Deut. 6:25.

 

The two contrasting covenants represented two distinct Israels.

 

In Romans chapters 9,10 and 11 Paul distinguishes between two competing "Israels", one natural and the other spiritual. In time, secular Israel and the true spiritual Israel both came to be known by the same name. Now, to clarify his message of the Christ-centered faith to the Christians in Rome, Paul had to clearly distinguish between the two Israels.

 

There always were two opposing spirits in Israel. But after Christ was crucified, it became apparent that the two could no longer walk together. On one hand was the secular Old Covenant Israel, who refused to accept the Messiah, and on the other, was the dynamic New Covenant Israel who chose to follow Christ. The two covenants represented two contrasting "Israels" both called by the same name.

 

Except for the pre-Sinai saints, Jews were the first Old Testament people to follow Jesus into the New Covenant or Christ-centered faith. This faith opened the door to people of all races, took on a cosmopolitan flavor, and welcomed all races on an equal footing. Eph. 2:14. The result was that the people who had called themselves "Israel," became divided, and were moving in two different directions. A separation between the "sheep and the goats" was taking place. Secular "Israel," who were, and still are anti (against) Christ, were emotionally locked in the Old Covenant and refused to move out of their comfort zone. They determined to protect the status quo. A spiritual minority, hand picked by Jesus, recognized the temporary nature of the Sinai agreement, left the exclusive fossilized religion of Judaism, and found freedom in the inclusive covenant of Righteousness by Faith God had given to Abraham.

 

But, Galatians 4: 21-31 tells how Old Covenant Israel continued to put their trust in their physical and genetic relationship to Abraham. The leaders in the old religious establishment felt threatened and began to persecute those who dared to move forward into the light of the Gospel of grace. New Covenant Israel, regardless of race, emphasized their spiritual union with Abraham and his God. The other group, trusting in what they thought was "superior genetics," as many still do, represented the Ishmael spirit. For a clear picture, please read Galatians 4: 21- 31 in various versions of the Bible.

 

The bloodline of Christ - unbroken from Genesis to Revelation.

 

It appears that Adam and Eve were the first New Covenant believers when they accepted the promise that the Lamb of God would take their place and die for their sins. Genesis 3:15. Remember that Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8. All the pre-Sinai saints who trusted in the coming Messiah were also New Covenant believers. John 8:56. They were the "church" of the day. That means that they believed in Christ who would one day seal the covenant of righteousness by faith with His death on the cross! Moses was also a New Covenant believer who knew that the whole sanctuary system was only a pre-view, or shadow of the plan of redemption through the coming Christ. All those people were part of God's true "church" (ekklesia, or "called out ones" in the Greek language).

 

"Church" always was and is people, not an inanimate organization! Pentecost was not the beginning of a new movement! It was a continuation of God's true church that spans human history from Genesis to Revelation. The idea that the "church" did not exist before Pentecost, or that it replaced Israel, is based on ignorance of the facts. The argument over "replacement theology" is nothing but a red herring! It has no basis in fact! The purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was two-fold:
1. It revealed the identity of the true Israel, catapulted them into the lime light and,
2. It equipped God's true "Israel," or "church," with new explosive power to preach the gospel to the whole world, with signs following.

 

Old Covenant Israel was structured on the genes of the 12 literal tribes of Israel. At Pentecost, New Covenant Israel re-discovered its true roots in Christ and continues to trace its ancestry not from Abraham's genes, but through his spiritual descendants. Romans 9:6-8.
And if you belong to Christ (are in Him, Who is Abraham's Seed), then you are Abraham's offspring and (spiritual) heirs according to His promise. Galatians 3:29 (Amp).

 

Henceforth the true Israel is not defined by any genetic connection to Abraham, or to Jacob, but by their allegiance to Jesus who is the only real door into the kingdom. John 10: 9. Romans 9:6.

 

The New, or Everlasting Covenant that was first promised to Adam, then delivered to Abraham, was officially activated when Jesus died and rose again. The Old, or temporary Sinai Covenant, was a temporary agreement with a built-in expiry date. Gal. 3:19. It was given to Israel to convince them of the futility of trying to supplement dependence on a Redeemer to rescue them from the consequences of sin. God gave humanity only one Everlasting Covenant. It embraces all people equally.

 

Even the book of Job, that was written in approximately 1520 BC, quotes that saint as expressing his confidence in the coming Messiah.

 

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes -I, and not another. How m y heart yearns within me. Job 19:25-27.

 

Ephesians chapter 2 is a clear picture of how Christ tore away all barriers that had separated Jews and Gentiles and welded us all into one body. All the redeemed, whether Jew or Gentile, now form the true Israel. Ephesians 2:14. Whether we like our relatives or not, when we are born of the Spirit we will see one another as real brothers and sisters in Christ. Let's not lock ourselves outside the Kingdom of God by refusing to accept each other in love. By God's grace, let us love one another.

 

"What God has joined together, let man not separate." Matthew 19:6.

 

Samuel Pestes www.sendingthelight.com e-mail s.pestes@shaw.ca

 


Copyright 2002 Abraham 911 :: Web site designed by ||| movingpixel.ca