The New covenant vs. The Old covenant

“The old covenant is the working arrangement that God had with Israel. He had chosen them for a special relationship that He did not have with any other group of people. He took a few Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and grew their descendants into a great nation, gave them land, and His law to live by. (Exodus 20) He established a sacrificial system that would allow a temporary cleansing for sin, those sacrifices having to be repeated over and over again.”

Let’s go through 4 attributes of what made up the Old Covenant.

  1. They had temporary removal of sin. We’ve pretty much all read about the animal sacrifices and what they had to go through for removal of sin. Animals such as dove, goats, sheep and bulls were used. As a goat farmer myself, this is hard to swallow. Taking a life would be hard enough and especially one that is not an aggressive animal and has no defense mechanisms. And this sacrifice only promised a temporary cleansing. It had to be repeated. About one sixth of the laws under the Mosaic systempertained to sacrifices and offerings. And sometimes, very large numbers of animals were sacrificed. For the dedication of King Solomon’s temple, about 960 BC, the celebrants sacrificed 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep over a two-week period. There were so many offerings that Solomon had to set up additional altars in the temple courtyard (1 Kings 8:63–65) The most specific sacrifice was once a year and referred to as “The day of atonement.” So you get the picture of how sin was dealt with under OT law. “Then he shall remove (A)all its fat, just as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offerings, and the priest shall offer [a]it up in smoke on the altar, on the offerings by fire to the Lord. So (B)the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his sin which he has [b]committed, and he will be forgiven.” Leviticus 4:35
  2. Another major attribute of the OT system was that they did not have the ability to come directly into the presence of God.

“The Lord said to Moses:

“Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter (A)at [a]any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the [b]atoning cover which is on the ark, or he will die; for (B)I will appear in the cloud over the [c]atoning cover.” Leviticus 16:2

As for the Holy of Holies, the high priest could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement, and only by offering a sacrifice. And he went in with a cord tied around his ankle in case he died there.

Notice how in the tabernacle, there are both barriers, separating the people from His holy presence, and a way made by grace to enter His presence. (The tabernacle points ahead to a greater tabernacle.)

3. The people did not have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 31-35

31 (BW)Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a (BX)new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,32 not like the (BY)covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I (BZ)took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My (CA)covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “For (CB)this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “(CC)I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and (CD)I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will (CE)not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all (CF)know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will (CG)forgive their wrongdoing, and their (CH)sin I will no longer remember.”

I’ve heard it said that the Holy Spirit worked from “without” guiding and directing people within the Old Testament, but now works from “within”without departure during the new. We are given a promise He will never leave us like He did King Saul in the OT. God will cause His Spirit to indwell us forever and write His law on our hearts. (Note that the OT believers were saved the same as us, by grace through faith.)

4. There were conditions to be met by man to be in a covenant with God.

“Abraham’s responsibility: “Walk before me and be blameless. . . . This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised . . . . It will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.” – Gen. 17:1, 10-11

The OT sign of the covenant was circumcision. This was God’s pledge to cleanse their sins and to fulfill all his promises to them.

Now, let’s contrast the 4 attributes listed with the New Testament.

  1. In the NT covenant, we have permanent removal of sin.
    26 For it was fitting for us to have such a (A)high priest, (B)holy, (C)innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and (D)exalted above the heavens;27 who has no daily need, like those high priests, to (E)offer up sacrifices, (F)first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because He did this (G)once for all time when He (H)offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests (I)who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints (J)a Son, who has been (K)made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:26-28

“But when Christ appeared as a (A)high priest of the (B)good things [a]having come, He enteredthrough (C)the greater and more perfect [b]tabernacle, (D)not made by hands, that is, (E)not of this creation; 12 and not through (F)the blood of goats and calves, but (G)through His own blood, He (H)entered the holy place (I)once for all time[c]having obtained (J)eternal redemption. 13 For if (K)the blood of goats and bulls, and (L)the [d]ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the [e]cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will (M)the blood of Christ, who through [f](N)the eternal Spirit (O)offered Himself without blemish to God, (P)cleanse your conscience from (Q)dead works to serve (R)the living God?” We no longer have to sacrifice animals for the temporary remission of sin because Christ is our spotless lamb and high priest once and for all!

2) We now have the ability to come directly to God the Father through Christ.

16 Therefore let’s (A)approach the throne of grace with (B)confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” Hebrews 4:16

God’s way into His presence was through the tabernacle which pictures Jesus Christ. Through Christ we now have access and He hears our prayers!

“And behold, (B)the [a]veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and (C)the earth shook and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:51

Jesus is our high priest! “for through Him we both have (A)our access in (B)one Spirit to (C)the Father.” Ephesians 2:18

3. We now have the permanent indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [a](A)Helper, so that He may be with you forever; 17 the Helper is (B)the Spirit of truth, (C)whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” John 14:6-7

God’s glory through the cloud, now fulfilled in the Holy Spirit, showed His approval of the tabernacle. We are now that tabernacle!

The gift of the Spirit is a seal and a down payment on our heavenly inheritance, which Christ promised and secured for us at the cross. The Spirit has sealed us and no one can break that seal.
“who also (A)sealed us and (B)gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a [a]pledge.” 2 Corinthians 1:22
He confirms through His Spirit that we belong to Him.

“The Spirit Himself (A)testifies with our spirit that we are (B)children of God, 17 and if children, (C)heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, (D)if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17

4. No conditions to be met by man. (It is also not transgressable.)

You might say well, there are conditions such as repentance and faith. True. Except this time, what God requires, He gives. Repentance and faith are gifts of God.

On repentance- “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, (B)if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to (C)the knowledge of the truth,” 2 Timothy 2:25

On belief- “And when he wanted to go across to (A)Achaia, (B)the brothers encouraged him and wrote to (C)the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly [a]helped those who had believed through grace,” Acts 18:27

“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is (A)the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He (B)has sent.” John 6:29

God circumcises our heart of stone and writes His law on our hearts. This is done in a monergistic form without cooperation of the unregenerate sinner. This does not require baptism or any effort from the flesh on the part of man. “The three elements that make up the substance of the new covenant are works supremely operated by God and are presented in the indicative mood, not the conditional. None of these promises depends on a condition that had first to be met by man. The unconditional nature of this covenant makes it a radically new covenant.” Here’s what Thomas Patient said on it- “For as I have shown before, it is impossible that the new covenant can be broken because it is an absolute covenant made on no condition to be filled by the creature.” If the blessings of the New Covenant were guaranteed by Christ (Hebrews 7:22), how could one conceive, as do the Presbyterians, that the New Covenant was just as transgressable as the Old? The truth is that all members of the New Covenant WILL participate in the substance. Which consists of these three elements- 1) The law written on the heart (regeneration) 2) The personal and saving knowledge of God 3) The forgiveness of sins (which constitute the basis of the other two blessings and of the whole New Covenant)

“How when facing such affirmations, could one insert a dichotomy in the New Covenant by declaring that only a part of its new members would inherit its substance while another part would content itself with external blessings that are not mentioned anywhere in Scripture?” This is why the new covenant doesn’t allow for the paedo baptist view. But that is an argument for another day. I felt we should briefly address that view so we have a proper understanding of the new covenant and its unconditional nature.

In closing, I hope that you see after this blog that the New Covenant far exceeds the Old! We have so much to be thankful for.

“But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” Hebrews 8:6

May we seek to glorify Christ for His grace and all that He has done! And I pray you are edified from having a better understanding of the covenants.

In Christ, Lauran

Author: lauranlou

Teaching women to study Scripture, love theology and to glorify Christ!

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