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Two Contrasting Covenants - Part 2

Two Contrasting Covenants - Part 2.

 

Does the word "covenant" turn you off?
If it sounds a bit heavy, I don't blame you. You are not alone!
Let's take the lid off and let the light shine in.

 

First of all, the word "covenant" simply means an agreement, or promise God made on behalf of, or with mankind. Nothing complicated about that, is there?

 

But why does the Bible refer to the first agreement, defining the plan of salvation that God gave to Abraham as the "second" or "New" covenant, and to the one He made with Moses centuries later, as the "first" agreement or the "old" covenant? Isn't that a bit confusing?

 

Here is the secret:
The agreements, or promises (covenants) God gave to Abraham and to Israel are not referred to as the "first" and the "second" because of the order in which they were presented, but because of the order in which they were put into effect, or confirmed! The covenant made with Israel was put into effect by the blood of animals that were sacrificed in the sanctuary rituals. The agreement based on faith (the New Covenant) was given to Abraham centuries earlier. However, It was not activated until the blood of Jesus was shed when He was crucified about 1500 years later.

 

This is called the New, or Everlasting Covenant! It contains no conditions as did the Sinai Covenant. It is based entirely, and only, on God's promises. Man had no part in its make up.

 

Scripture speaks of only two covenants that deal with the subject of salvation. Other covenants, such as the covenant of circumcision addressed temporal matters such as land, and depended largely on human performance. Here we will look only at the two covenants that relate to salvation.

 

The book of Hebrews makes this fact clear. Read Hebrews 7:18-22. 8: 6,7,13. 10:9.
For if that first (the Sinai Covenant) covenant had been without defect, there would have been no room for another...When God speaks of a new [covenant or agreement], He makes the first one obsolete -and what is obsolete...is ripe for disappearance and to be dispensed with altogether. Hebrews 8:7,13 (Amp).

 

To illustrate and simplify this subject, let us think of God's covenants, or agreements with mankind, as two baskets holding the promises of God.

 

Basket # 1. Here God placed all His unconditional (eternal) promises based entirely on faith in His keeping power. God first delivered this to Adam in Eden (Genesis 3:15), then replenished it to the saints who followed. Finally Abraham was blessed with the details of God's plan for the redemption of the whole world. This basket contained the Everlasting Covenant, or what the Bible also refers to as the New Covenant. 2 Corinthians. 3:6.

 

This covenant is called the "Everlasting Covenant" because God made it and gave it to man in the beginning. It will continue to the end of this present age. It was perfect and complete in every detail. It is the agreement that Jesus confirmed by His death and resurrection.
Now may the God of peace - [Who is] the Author and the Giver of Peace - and Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement [covenant, testament], strengthen...(complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be... Hebrews 13:20,21.

 

Basket # 2. In this basket (covenant) God placed the demanding laws and conditional prophecies given after the fall. The full extent of the details and demands in this basket were not known until God gave them to Israel after, as a nation, they turned their backs on His original covenant. Even though this basket administered only the death they had fallen into (2 Cor. 3:7), its purpose was to capture Israel's vision and cause them to return to the faith of their fathers.

 

The two trees God planted in the Garden of Eden may also be compared to baskets.
Each tree represented a different approach to life.
The Tree of Life held all the ingredients of faith in the Creator and distinguishes the Christ-centered faith from all other world religions.

 

The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil contained "do-it-yourself" formulas that could be derived from knowledge and human reasoning alone.
One tree meant life.
The other meant death.

 

Question: Why did God give man the option to choose the wrong way?
Love does not compel, nor does it take away one's freedom of choice. Love will provide guidance, but will not take away freedom. God warned Adam not to experiment with the alternatives to love and trust, but like an inquisitive child, Adam insisted on discovering the reason why.

 

Basket #1 was the Tree of Life.
It even contained the divine remedy, should man ever slip into error.
In its center was Christ, as the Lamb of God, who was revealed as soon as Adam and Eve sinned. Genesis 3:15 revealed the Redeemer, who as the "seed" of the woman would crush the enemy and restore mankind to their original innocence. It not only held everything necessary for the maintenance of a healthy spiritual life, but also the Remedy should that become necessary.

 

Basket #2 was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Here God would place all the remedial laws and prophecies regarding His dealings with wayward humanity, should they ever stray so far that they would entirely lose sight of the Tree of Life. All its contents were not revealed until Israel had let go their faith in God and ran into the barrenness of the Sinai Desert. It contained the hard lessons by which that fallen nation would learn how helpless they were to restore themselves to a state of holiness.

 

Ever since Eden, God's saints chose to feed from basket #1, but, according to Numbers 11:5, Israel preferred the taste of "fast foods" of leeks and onions in a sauce of Egyptian slavery from basket #2. Probably not knowing what they were doing, they ate from the same tree that poisoned Adam and Eve. They insisted on trying the "do-it-yourself" program.

 

God understood Israel's limitations. Generations of slavery impacted their "DNA" so that they were no longer capable of relating to freedom. They knew only controls and controllers. Their mentality now contained psychological imprints that demanded a taskmaster. God obliged. He provided a new schoolmaster, the Law. Galatians 4:1-3. The concept of having everything provided was so foreign to their thinking, that they could not accept the divine manna and water even when provided for them. They wanted to do everything for themselves. Is it any wonder they told God that they could live a holy life without depending on His gifts of love? Exodus 19:7,8.

 

Why did Paul call Israel the children of Hagar?
Galatians chapter 4 speaks of two women, Sarah and Hagar.
Sarah is presented as the mother of those who live by the same faith that sustained Abraham. Hagar, by contrast, is presented as the mother of the Jews, whose main focus was on the Law. Yet they rejected Christ. At the time Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, they controlled the city of Jerusalem. These were the Jews Paul warned the Christians to beware of.
Now all this is an allegory; these [two women] represent two covenants. One covenant originated from Mount Sinai [where the Law was given], and bears [children destined] for slavery; this is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children. Galatians 4: 24,25.

 

Did you notice that Paul connects the Law given at Mount Sinai with Hagar, not with Sarah?

 

Paul compares Sarah and Hagar (and their sons) to the two covenants that stood in opposition to one another. He pictures them as holding two baskets. Hagar holds the "goodies," or Law written on stone, that Israel received at Mount Sinai. This law became the foundation of Judaism. Paul spoke of the Law on stone as,
"the ministration of death written and engraved on stone." 2 Corinthians 3:7.

 

The trap of legalism.
Not one person has ever met the demands of that law! Yet even today many still make the law the focal point of their religion. They are so concerned about the trying to keep the law, that like the Jews, they fail to enter into Christ's true Sabbath Rest! See Hebrews 3:16-19. The same legalism that sterilized Judaism has infected many of today's churches and they don't even know it!

 

So long as you work at keeping the Law, like the Jews, you will be sucked into the very sins you are trying to avoid. As Paul said in Romans 7:21-29, the harder he worked at keeping the Law, the more he broke it. By turning his focus on Jesus and ceasing to strive, he was set free. Chapter 8:1-3. Until people experience this freedom, they can never know what we are talking about.

 

Sarah's children preserve in her basket, the reality of the promise of Righteousness by Faith that was passed on from Abraham through Isaac. By contrast, Paul associates the Law Israel received at Mount Sinai with Ishmael who was symbolic of the works of the flesh. As Jesus told Nicodemus, who observed the 10 commandments meticulously, neither a genetic connection to Abraham, not observance of Law will qualify a person for the inheritance of the saints. John 3: 1-6.

 

Faith in the finished work of Jesus, our Redeemer, is the only door into the kingdom of God. That is the reason why Jesus took the entire Sinai Covenant, with all its Laws and conditional prophecies (which had fulfilled their mission) and nailed them to the cross. Jesus said,
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John (the Baptist). Matt. 11:13.

 

According to Jesus, the Sinai Law and the prophets who predicted the coming of Christ had fulfilled their mission with the arrival of Jesus whom John the Baptist introduced to the world. Matt. 5:17. Their purpose fulfilled, both were validated forever. Romans 3: 31. Now retired, their record will remain in the archives of history for all time as evidence that Jesus was in reality the Redeemer, revealed from the foundation of the world.
Now Israel was invited to re-join Abraham's extended (spiritual) family and together enjoy the freedom of salvation through Christ. Ephesians 2:14,19.

 

The other startling declaration in Galatians chapter 4:25 is that Jerusalem was portrayed as outside the promises of the Covenant of faith! Paul portrayed the Jews who controlled Jerusalem at the time he wrote, as Ishmaelites, outside the inheritance promised to the spiritual descendants of Abraham. By the way, have you ever noticed how Revelation 11:8 also portrays the city of Jerusalem? Speaking of the two witnesses who would be slain because of their testimony to the true God, we read:
And their dead bodies will lie exposed in the open street... of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called by the mystical and allegorical names of Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified (Amp).

 

In what city was Jesus crucified? In Jerusalem! Here Jerusalem is equated with Sodom and Egypt! That is the same comparison Paul made in the texts we just read in Galatians. Jesus pioneered a path for us to escape the perils of "Egypt," or Judaism, which today controls Jerusalem and is still anti-Christ. Out of Egypt have I called my Son. Matthew 2:15. In fact, Egypt was, and remains more hospitable to Jesus than Jerusalem is. Mat. 2:13.

 

Of what practical benefit is this information to us who live in the year 2006?

 

Once we see how simple and easy it is to distinguish between the contents of New Covenant faith and the Sinai Covenant, every saint will have the key to unscrambling the confusion created by the promoters of religion. We can know which promises and prophecies apply to our day and which are outdated and went down with the Sinai Covenant that Christ nailed to the cross. Now you can determine for yourself what is current truth and what is not. Just ask yourself, which basket was each Law or promise placed in? Once you discover this key to Scripture, you will no longer have to entrust your soul to the paid "experts" to tell you what the Bible really teaches.

 

The Sinai basket.
What did God put in this covenant basket, prepared solely for Israel, that He did not put in the covenant He gave to Abraham?

 

1. After they sinned, Adam and Eve avoided the need of a legalistic basket (covenant) by quickly
returning to the Tree of Life. After their deliverance from Egypt, Israel also turned their backs
on God, but unlike Adam and Eve, they refused to repent and return to the covenant of faith.
They locked themselves in a "rescue-yourself" mentality. Because they insisted on it (Ex. 19: 8), God
designed a basket (covenant, or Law) that He knew they could never satisfy. They swore that they could. God knew they never would. However, God also attached to that basket a "pictograph," or plan of salvation by which they might escape that prison. This included the holy days, sanctuary services and animal sacrifices that pointed to Christ. This covenant was made only with, and for Israel.
It was not with our fathers that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. Deut. 5:3.

 

Notice that this text, Deuteronomy 5:3 introduces the 10 commandment Law, or covenant! Scripture is consistent that God regarded the Law on stone and the Sinai Covenant as the same thing!

 

2. God identified the 10-commandment Law and the Sinai Covenant as one inseparable unit.
God gave these the same identity and so, they could never be separated. Religion has sought
to divide them, but Scripture tells us that God wrote the covenant (the Law) itself on
the stone tablets. If this still unsettles you, read Deut. 4:13, Exodus. 34:28, 1 Kings 8: 21,
Deut. 5:1-22, 2 Chron. 6:11 and Heb. 9:4. What God has joined together let man not try to
separate!

 

3. According to Deuteronomy 5:3 the 10-commandment Law did not exist before Sinai.
How did the pre-Sinai saints know right from wrong? It was by the same Spirit of God,
who in the pillar of fire by night and in the cloud by day, guided Israel through the
wilderness. Eventually Israel stopped listening, and God withdrew His Holy Spirit from
them. He was the same Holy Spirit who guides us today that spoke into the hearts of the
saints before the Law was ever given. Because those saints were attuned to the voice of the
Holy Spirit and obeyed His voice, they did not require an external Law to whip them into line!
Psalm 51:11. Genesis 6:3. Nehemiah 9:20,30. John 16:7-11.

 

4. To this same basket God eventually added incentives designed to encourage the nation of Israel to return to the faith of their father Abraham. God promised that, if they would live up to their agreement to do all that was required for holiness, then eventually the glory of the Lord would cover the whole world and Christ would come to reign over the nations from their literal capital city of Jerusalem. What was their response when He came? They crucified Him! By this action, literal Israel aborted the prophecies of glory predicted for their nation by the prophets. This was the most damaging abortion of all time by any nation! Jesus put an end to their charade in Matthew 21:43,44. 23:37-38. 24:1,2.

 

5. All the prophecies God gave to Israel regarding a glorious future were conditional on their
faithfulness. God made it plain that if they should betray that trust, then that betrayal would
negate and cancel all the plans He had for them as the head of all nations.

 

Notice the IF with which God qualified all the prophecies of glory given to literal Israel.

 

See Jer. 18:5-11. Deut. 28:68 (NIV or Amp.) Ex. 19:5. Ps. 132:11,12. 1 Kings 9:4-9.

 

What literal Israel lost through pride and exclusiveness, the multinational, spiritual
family of Abraham (spiritual Israel) gained. According to Romans 9:6-9, God's promises to
Abraham are, today, being fulfilled through his spiritual descendants as He promised.
God never limited Himself to the whims of any secular nation! Like Adam and Eve, Abraham's
natural descendants can join his spiritual descendants by individually returning to the covenant of faith, given to their forefather, Abraham. There is no other way!
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12.

 

Some people wonder what is so special about a name? It is not the English, or the German, or the Japanese spelling that is meant here. There are thousands of people carrying that name. What this text points us to is the One Jesus - the only Son of God! It is the Personality of our Redeemer, not the surface spelling that is sacred! Do we accept His person, is the life saving question.

 

6. The sanctuary services with animal sacrifices were a temporary symbol given to
remind the Jews that the Messiah would come to provide redemption for the whole
world by sacrificing Himself as the ultimate offering promised since Genesis 3:15. Today there
is no second basket, or two tier salvation. There never was, and there will never be. The old
Law will never mix with the covenant of Righteousness by Faith alone! That is what Paul so
vehemently opposed and exposed in Galatians by calling such a mix -"witchcraft!" See
Galatians 3:1. The Sinai Covenant (Law) served its purpose well and then expired at the cross.

 

7. All the holy days, or Sabbaths were also given to point that nation to the coming Messiah.

 

8. All the above were part of the same covenant, or basket God gave solely to Israel at Sinai.

 

9. This whole covenant package had the cross of Christ as its expiry date.

 

10. The entire Sinai Covenant ended when Christ fulfilled it and nailed it to the cross.
See Col. 2:13-17. 2 Cor. 2:6,7. Eph. 2:14-22. Heb. 8:5-7, 13. 9:15. 10:1-4, 9.

 

Jesus, Himself, said that the function of the Law and the Old Testament prophets ended with His ministry.
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John (John the Baptist). Matt. 11:13.

 

Today, the original covenant of faith that God gave to the pre-Sinai saints stands alone as the unshakeable and immutable Word of God. It alone is backed up and guaranteed by the blood of Jesus whose Word cannot fail. Any return to the animal sacrifices of the expired Sinai Covenant, or to any part of its Laws, would be a blasphemous denial of the sacrifice that Jesus, the Son of God, made on our behalf. Paul looked on such a return to the past as "witchcraft!" Galatians 3:1-3. Jesus alone is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

 

Let us look to Him and live!

 

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

 


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