Monday, August 26, 2013

Just One Covenant

The Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai were the terms of a Covenant with the nation of Israel.

“Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)
“He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.” (Deut. 4:13)
The Ten Commandments are only mentioned (by name) three times in the entire Bible. Here in these two scriptures referenced above, and also in Deut.10:4. But in each case it is clear that God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews as a Covenant. (Note: There are many other terms used such as “Tablets of Stone”, “Stone Tables”, etc.) But these commandments were given to the Jews alone, not to the entire world. Why? Because it outlined the terms of His Covenant with them, not with anyone else.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” (Exodus 34:27)
Without this Covenant, the Jewish people had no basis for being called a nation. If this Covenant was in force, then they would have a claim to the promises included in the Covenant, but if they broke this Covenant then they would lose all their status as God’s chosen people and their status as a nation.

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
In much the same way that the Constitution is a document that outlines the laws of our nation and establishes our system of government, the Ten Commandments (or the Law) outlines God’s terms for establishing the nation state of Israel.

Notice, however, that the terms of Israel’s nationhood are dependent upon a few things. First, it says, “If you obey me and keep my covenant, THEN you will be my treasured possession.” That’s a conditional covenant.

We know that the History of Israel records their continual disobedience to God and to His covenant. Because they broke their covenant with God, they were scattered over and over again, until finally they nation of Israel was judged in AD 70 during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, as Jesus predicted it would be (Luke 21) and in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matt. 21:33-46).
Now notice that the very same conditional covenant terms spoken to the Jews are repeated in the New Testament as being unconditionally applied to the Church:

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Here, Peter declares that Christians ARE a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…”. The very same conditional promises originally offered to the Jewish nation in Exodus 19:5-6 are now spoken to the Church as being now in effect. So that anyone who is currently found in Christ is the recipient of these promises to be chosen, of the priesthood, a holy nation and God's special possession. We are also promised to be called the people of God and to receive mercy.

The Good News is that Jesus first came and fulfilled the terms of the Old Covenant, and then He made a New Covenant with anyone who would receive Him as Lord and Savior. The terms of that New Covenant are simple, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people…and they will all know me from the least to the greatest for I will remember their sins no more.” (Jer. 31:33-34 and Hebrews 8:7-9)

We are now under one Covenant, not two. The first has been fulfilled and is now obsolete:

“In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrew 8:13)

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