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Old Testament vs. New Testament (Part One)

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant (Part One)

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt…” (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

          A covenant is a compact or binding agreement between persons, with stipulations and promises. The book of Hebrews clearly teaches that Christ established his new covenant, which is distinct from the old one. “He takes away the first in order to establish the second” (Heb. 7:128:6-13). The Old Covenant (Testament) is “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13). Jesus ended the Old Testament Law by having “nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). His “once for all” sacrifice (Heb. 7:279:1410:12) is superior to the temporary, imperfect sacrifices under the Law (Heb. 10:1-47:19).

          Men are not under the Old Testament Law (Gal. 3:23-26), but we are under the gracious new covenant law of Christ (Heb. 7:121:1-3).

Many religious people today fail to distinguish between the two major divisions of the Bible: the Old Testament given by Moses to the Jews (Deut 5:1-3) versus the New Testament (covenant) given through Christ to all men (Matt 11:287:21).

          “Now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). The Lord’s church is the new Israel or people of God (1 Pet. 2:9-10, Ja. 1:1, Rom. 2:28-29).     Failing to distinguish between the two major Bible covenants leads to much confusion about:

 

· Infant membership
· Confessing sins to a priest
· Clergy/laity distinction
· Tithing
· Annual religious observances
· Sabbath (7th day) observance
· Instrumental music in worship

 

All of the above examples are Old Testament practices of the Jews under the Law of Moses that are not taught in the New Covenant of Christ. For example, under the Law of Moses, a Jewish child was born into the covenant and was later taught God’s will. In the new covenant it is different. “They shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (Heb. 8:11). In the New Covenant, people first learn of God’s will and then decide to enter into a redeemed, covenant relationship with God. Only men and women (mature people) were baptized in the New Testament (Acts 5:148:12), never infants or little children. Belief and repentance are conditions for being baptized (Mk. 16:16Acts 2:38), which babies cannot do.

Also, the Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant Law (Deut. 4:13). Christians are “released from the Law” (Rom. 7:1-6) as justifying legal system, which includes the Ten Commandments (Rom. 7:7; i.e. “you shall not covet”). In 2 Cor. 3:6-16, Paul contrasts the fading glory of the “old covenant” typified in the giving of the Ten Commandments with the New Covenant of Christ which has abiding glory to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:6-18). “If that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory” (2 Cor. 3:11).

Yet, isn’t murder, lying, and adultery still wrong? Shouldn’t we honor our parents? Yes, because these precepts are either repeated verbatim the New Testament (Rom. 13:9-10Matt. 19:18-19Eph. 6:13) or the others are repeated in principle in the New Testament (cf. Matt. 6:933Eph. 4:29).

There is one exception: “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). This seventh day (Saturday) observance is not repeated in the New Testament, because Jesus changed the day of worship (Matt 26:29). Jesus miraculously arose on the first day of the week to validate our justification by His blood (John 20:19Romans 4:25). The church was founded on Pentecost (50 days from the Sabbath Passover), which was on the first day of the week (Acts 2). The early church observed the Lord’s Supper, not on Saturday, but “they were gathered together upon the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Cor 16:1-2). In fact, we are not to be judged by some for not keeping the Sabbath (Col 2:16). In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ is our rest (Sabbath) and He leads us heavenward because, “a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).

The “Word of Christ” (Col. 3:16) in the 27 books of the New Testament is our complete rule of faith and practice. The New Covenant of Christ provides “all things that pertains to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). The Old Testament is for our learning (Rom. 15:4), but it is not our law. The New Covenant Scriptures point us to Christ’s perfect example to imitate (1 Pet 2:21). Jesus Christ offers the kingdom of new beginnings, into which anyone, regardless of race, can choose by penitent faith and baptism to enter (Acts 10:34-352 Cor 5:17Rom 6:4). Praise God!

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          “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’” Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By THAT WILL we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:5-10).

          We learn from the above that God took away the first (old) covenant in order to establish the second (new covenant).

  1. The Hebrews writer quotes from Psalm 40: 6-8, which referred to the Christ.
  2. He says He (Christ) came into the world and prepared a body for Him.
  3. He came to do the Father’s will.
  4. Part of the Father’s will was removing the first to establish the second, which came by or through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
  5. NOTE: The Hebrews writer then says, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Now “THAT WILL” is God’s Will as found in the New Covenant (second) which replaced the Old (first). It is the Will in which is in the shed blood of Jesus Christ – the new covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20). In addition to sin, Christ shed His blood for the installment of the new covenant of His blood (Matt.26:28).  Now, let’s see if this is not so.

HEBREWS 7:11-19 – “Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

          HEBREWS 8:7-13 –For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a secondBecause finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 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 did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

          HEBREWS 9:15-17 – “15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”

          HEBREWS 10:1-2 – “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 

THE GIVING OF THE SABBATH

Most Sabbatarians, Seveth Day Adventist, Church of God, and other groups demand that God made the Sabbath day for man at Creation. But the word Sabbath is not even found in Genesis, but what is found is this: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3). Nowhere does it say God created the Sabbath for man. This passage is not about what God gave, but what God did! 

  • Nehemiah 9:14 – “You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, By the hand of Moses Your servant.”
  1. In addition to laws, God, through Moses, made known to THEM (the Jews) the Sabbath.
  • Ezekiel 20: 10-12 – “10 “Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ 12 Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.
  1. The “THEM” are the Jews. Who did He take out of Egypt? Israel! When did He give THEM the Sabbath? At Mount Sinai Moses gave them the Ten Commandments. God gave the Jews the Sabbath, NOT at Creation but after the Exodus. God did not make know the Sabbath to mankind at Creation, but He made it known to physical Israel when they were in the wilderness. See also Exodus 16:23.

THE SABBATH WAS NEVER GIVEN TO THE GENTILES

  • Psalm 147:19-20 – “He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!

No commentary is even needed.

  • Ephesians 2:11-16 – we read that the Gentiles were “strangers” and “aliens” from God and the first covenant. How could God give the Gentiles the Sabbath when they were strangers to Him? The Gentiles were not brought near to God until after the death of Christ. 
  • Ephesians 2:19 – the Gentiles were “foreigners.”

COMPARE PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL ISRAEL

Physical Israel (the Jews):

  1. Deuteronomy 5; Romans 2:14. One Nation (Israel).
  2. Old Covenant (Hebrews chapters 8-9).
  3. Circumcision of the flesh (Acts 15:1).

Spiritual Israel (the church consisting of both Jew and Gentile):

  1. Galatians 6:15-16. ALL Nations (Matt.28:19-20; Romans 1:5, 16-17, 9:6; Gal.3:26-28).
  2. New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13).
  3. Circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29; Colossians 2:12-13).

The Old Covenant Law was for the Jews, not for the Gentiles. It was never made for the Gentiles but only for the Jews. It is not until the New Covenant, after Christ shed His blood, and after the establishment of the church that Gentiles are allowed entrance into the kingdom/church (Acts 10, 11). The Gentiles and Jews became one new man (spiritually speaking) and brought together into one new body – the church (Eph.1:21-22; chapter 2 & 3; 4:5). 

AN EXPIRATION DATE FOR THE SABBATH AND THE LAW

The law (of Moses) was until the Seed (Christ) would come (Gal.3:15-23). The law, along with the SABBATH lasted until Christ.

Genesis 17:9-10 – circumcision throughout THEIR generations

Exodus 40:15 – Levitical priesthood everlasting throughout THEIR generations.

Numbers 15:38 – Tassels on THEIR garments throughout THEIR generations.

Exodus 29:42; 30:10 – Animal sacrifices throughout THEIR generations.

Exodus 31:16 – observe the Sabbath throughout THEIR generations.

THEIR GENERATIONS not ours. It seems Sabbatarians want only the Sabbath but if one is still continuing then ALL are still continuing. Can’t be selective. Either ALL continue or none continue. NONE is the answer! Jews were to keep the Law, not Christians! Jews were to keep the Sabbath, which was part of the Law of Moses, not Christians! There is not a single time in the New Testament where Christians kept the Sabbath day. Not one single time! No command for Christians to do so. No example for Christians to do so. Here is what Paul taught folks: “38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from ALL things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

THE OLD LAW WAS TAKEN AWAY

  • If the Sabbath was part of the first covenant, and if the first covenant had been taken away, then the Sabbath is not to be observed unless it is established in the second or new covenant.  
  • The Sabbath was part of the first covenant, and the first covenant has been taken away.
  • Therefore, the Sabbath is not to be observed unless it is established in the second or new covenant (new law).

­­­­­­­­­­­­The Bible teaches that the Sabbath was a part of the first (old) covenant.

Deuteronomy 4:13 – 13 So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

          1 Kings 8:9 – “Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

          Hebrews 9:1-4 – Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.”

          Hebrews 7:12-14 – “12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.”

          1 Corinthians 3:4-8 –And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing awayhow will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

          Exodus 34:27-35 – “27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments, Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

          Jesus said He fulfilled the LAW (Matthew 5:17-19, see also Luke 24:44 & Acts 13:27-29). To fulfill means “to bring to completion or an end” (Matthew 2:15, 8:17, 21:4-5). Christ fulfilled the law, bring it to its end or completion: ““Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second” (Heb.10:9):

          15 “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, And to your Seed,” who is Christ17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ] that it should make the promise of no effect18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by the faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before the faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by the faith25 But after the faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” 26 For you are all sons of God through the faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”

Matthew 5:17-18 – “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

To "fulfill" means "to bring to an end or to a completion" (Matt.2:15, 8:17, 21:4-5; cf. Luke 24:44; Acts 13:27-29). In fulfilling the law, Jesus brought it to an end (Gal.3:15-25; Heb.10:9).

HEBREWS 2:1-4 – “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

  1. They were to give the “more earnest heed” or greater attention, to the “things we have heard.”  
  2. They were not to neglect “so great a salvation.”
  3. Which was taught to them by the Lord.
  4. That message was confirmed and God also bore witness with miracles. See Mark 16:16-20.
  5. The gospel was preached by Jesus. It was confirmed with accompanying miraculous signs or miracles (Mark 16:20).
  6. The gospel is being contrasted with Old Covenant law: “For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward.”  

 

 

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