This continues in from the previous post which looked at the concept of the Law, this week the topic of focus the 2 Covenants.
God didn’t just instigate animal sacrifices for the sake of it. The blood was an important aspect of atonement, it covered the breach created in the covenenat relationship between man and YHWH, as such the death of the animal was necessary in order for man to avoid death.
How many deaths would it take to continuously cover up these breaches in the covenant relationship whenever we broke our side of it? Even an endless flow of blood wouldn’t be enough to cover the sins of all humanity past, present and future. Though there was some covering for us, it was still insufficient. Our sinful nature would still ultimately lead us unto death.
From the outside the situation looked desperately impossible to overcome, Israel were tied into the sacrificial system as a means of remaining in Covenenat relationship with YHWH God. Everyday sacrifices would be made and every year on the Day of Breach Covering (Yom Kippur) a special sacrifice and scapegoat were necessary to cover Israel for that past year alone. Yet they were blessed because they were the ONLY nation in this Covenant relationship with Creator, this is what made them a special and holy (set apart) people.
So as Believers we should recognise the desirability of wanting to be in a Covenant relationship with God, and looking at it from this perspective we can begin to see why the Israelites worked so hard at keeping the Law including the sacrificial aspects of it. Without it they were just like everyone else on the Earth.
The Law of Sin
Recall that law and sin are intrinsically linked together, transgression from the law is sin and under the Law the penalty for sin is death. This means that when somebody under the law would die, they would be still be judged according to their ability to obey the law.
Also recall the ineffectiveness of the Law at renewing the carnal mind and the insufficieny of sacrifices at permenantly covering covenant breaches, there was obviously a need for something more. Especially when we take into consideration that YHWH had set a time when it would be impossible to carry out any sacrifices at all when the temple was pulled down.
As I said, there needed to be something else, something more,better than the old way.
I think this extract from the Letter to the Hebrews (the People of the Covenant) sums the situation up well:
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
(Hebrews 8:7-13 KJV)
I think the last verse is very interesting, it says that the Old Covenant is decaying and growing old and hence will soon vanish and come to an end. This raises 3 questions:
- When will this death of the Old Covevant take place?
- If there is no more Old Covevant what will become of Israel?
- Can Israel be saved outside of the Messiah?
The answer for the first two questions can be found in the answer of the last, so let’s work backwards.
Question 3 – Can Israel be saved outside of Messiah (Christ)?
Paul says that all Israel will be saved, and he calls this a great mystery. We can match this up with what we have just read in Romans 8, as YHWH specificallys says that His New Covenant will be with the Houses of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom). God didn’t just decide to forget about them and move onto a next people, if He had done this where would the security of us as Believers be in Him, wouldn’t He then have lied against His own Word?
But we as Believers can be reassured because YHWH didn’t break His Covenant with Israel but created a more superior one that would include both them and us as one heavenly nation, Israel.
However Paul says and it makes logical sense that not everyone in physical Israel will be saved, but to date many, many have already been saved e.g. the founders and members of the early church including Paul and this tradition continues today with many Hebrews finding thier Messiah (Messianics).
Have you ever heard somebody in church preach that we are under a period of Grace before God’s wrath? The Grace isn’t just for those who we would instantly think of, but also for God’s original chosen nation Israel. Although the Od Covenant is decaying, it has not yet breathed its last. The current existence of this Covenant allows God to continue to watch over His people whilst extending Grace as a bridge to bring those who He has called and chosen into His New Covenant from both the World and Israel. Yet, this period of Grace will end but not before as Paul says everyone who is truly Israel will be brought from out of both physical Israel and the world to be saved.
What does this tell us about the Law?
The Law is still present yet ineffective for one group and effective for another. Did you notice how Hebrews 8, taken from Isaiah says that the Law will be written on the hearts and minds of those who are part of the New Covenant? In fact God says, that He Himself will do the writing and Paul comments and says that this one (Law) wasn’t written on tablets of stone but tablets of flesh with the Finger of God.
Another point to note is that YHWH says that He will also wipe away our iniquities in this Covenant and remember them no more. These are the two points which make the Law effective and a friend of those of the New Covenant and ineffective for those of the Old. Simply put, this Covenant includes a process of recreating the heart and renewing the mind whereas the first did not and secondly, our breaches of Covenant are now covered by God Himself whilst in the first it was man that consistently had to do the work daily to cover their sin and covenant breaches.
In the last post, when we looked at the term Grace I defined it as the Good will and beneovalence of YHWH God towards us. I think this New Covenant is a powerul illustration of this Grace, pointing towards God Himself being the Atonement. YHWH so much wants His people to be in relationship with Him that He created a better Covenant that would mean that nothing not even our carnal flesh could ever separate us from Him again.
How awesome and loving a God!
Yet we should also note that the sign of a true Believer is one who demonstrates the Law (Word and Voice of God) placed in their minds and written in their hearts. Too often people use the Grace card as a means of escaping the responsibility of being in a committed relationship. Just like any earthly relationship both parties have a responsibility towards one another and should strive to make the relationship work. God has done HIS bit to ensure we stay in relationship together, but we have a role too! Hebrews 8 says that no one will need to say know YHWH, because we know Him already. What this means is that we won’t need to have a teacher (the physical Law) because our heart and mind will be full of the desire to do what is pleasing to Him outside of the Law. This is the sign of a true Believer, not somebody who obeys the mandates of the Law out of fear and penalty of death and being cut out of Israel as many, many people do. But somebody who follows and obeys the Voice of their Heart to serve a God they love so much because it gives both Him and them pleasure to do so.
The sign of True Covenant Relationship
THIS SERIES WILL CONTINUE IN MY NEXT POST ON GRACE.