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Two Contrasting Covenants - Part 1



Sam Pestes


"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, moving and putting together the Abrahamic Covenant of righteousness by faith while Abraham was in a deep sleep under "divine anesthetic." This covenant had no human input! According to Hebrews 9:16, only the death of one who makes a covenant can confirm it. This is proof that Christ\'s death could not have confirmed the covenant of Righteousness by Faith if He was not its Author!


In view of this truth, the \"burning torch,\" seen in Genesis 15:17, had to be Christ who co-authored that agreement with God the Father who was symbolized by the \"smoking furnace." Hebrews 9:14-17. Psalm 119:105 and John 1:1,8.


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! This 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, is 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 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, and 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 all that God required. They were so confident that they had the ability to please God, that they selected to preface the covenant with an all important \"If\". See Deuteronomy 6:25.


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.
Was the Sinai Covenant \"Irrevocable?\"


According to Jeremiah 11:3-8 and 18:1-12, among many other texts, if the party to a covenant made with God fails to perform as agreed, then that covenant (agreement) becomes 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 Him to do what He said. 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 (Jeremiah 18:5-12. Zechariah 11:10) Hebrews 8:9 tells us that, \"He sets aside the first (covenant) to establish the second.\" Hebrews 8:13 called the Old Covenant obsolete and ready to vanish away. That included not only the shell, but all its contents.


The New Covenant is based solely on faith in Christ\'s ability to \"keep us from falling.\" Jude, verse 24. Nothing could be added to it once it was delivered to Abraham. Galatians 3:15.


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


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.


The two contrasting covenants represent two distinct 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 roads to salvation.


The idea that Christianity was anti-Jewish is totally misleading! Jews were the first Old Testament people to follow Jesus into the New Testament Christ-centered faith. This faith opened the door to people of all races, taking on a cosmopolitan flavor, welcoming all 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. Secular "Israel," who were anti (against) Christ, and mentally locked in the Old Covenant, refused to move out of their comfort zone and 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 emphasized their spiritual union with Abraham and his God. One group, claiming superior genetics, represented the Ishmael spirit, while the other, like Isaac, were children of Abraham by faith. For a clear picture, please read Galatians 4: 21- 31 in various versions.


Paul and Barnabas became the first missionaries to take the Gospel to a waiting world. As Christian Jews joined them, they formed the nucleus of New Covenant Israel. According to Paul (Acts 13:46) the commission that he and Barnabas received to go to the Gentiles, marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 49:6. Jews did not join the Gentiles. Gentile believers united with the believing Jews under Christ. Isaiah\'s prophecy in chapter 49, verse 6 was fulfilled.
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. 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. 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\" 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 theory of \"replacement theology\" is nothing but a red herring! The purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was two fold:
1. It fulfilled the promise of total regeneration beginning in the spirit of man (a new heart) 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 12 literal tribes of Israel. At Pentecost, New Covenant Israel re-discovered its true roots in Christ and traces its ancestry not from Abraham's genes, but through his spiritual descendants. Romans 9:6-8.


Revelation 21:14 also tells us that the foundation of the true Israel, (New Jerusalem) carries the names of the 12 apostles, while the names of Israel\'s tribes were placed the foundation to the doors, the last part of the structure to be built. The foundation is always put in place before the doors. Matthew 19:30. Note that the true Israel came into being after the foundation was in place.


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. The names on the twelve doors in Revelation\'s \"New Jerusalem\" represent the true Israel who are anchored in Jesus Christ. He is both the foundation and the door! See John 3:16,17. Luke 3:7-9. John 8:39. Romans 9:6. 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 it or not, when we are born of the Spirit, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. By God's grace, let us love each other now.
\"What God has joined together, let man not separate.\" Matthew 19:6.


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