The bible is majorly a tale of two covenants: old and new.
- The New emerged from the ashes of the Old
- The New derives legitimacy from the Old
- The Old is earthly, while the New is heavenly
- The Old is physical while the New is spiritual
- The Old points to the New
- The New stands on the Old.
- The Old is based on the blood of bulls and goats (limited possibilities) and the new on the blood of Jesus, the Son of God (unlimited possibilities) (Hebrews 9:11-10:12).
Paul declares that Hagar and Sarah, the mothers of the first two sons of Abraham, allegorically represents two covenants (the old and the new respectively) (Galatians 4:21-5:4).
The focus verse was referred to by Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians, who were suddenly finding segments of the old covenant appealing (Galatians 4:30). Paul had to warn that the old represents bondage and that it is for freedom that Christ has made us free, and we should not seek to be controlled by law but controlled by the spirit, or else we would defeat the purpose of God in our lives because we would fall from grace (Galatians 1-5).
The first book of the bible, Genesis, records the divine act of creation, the fall of man, God’s choice of Abram and his relationship with him (which his lineage benefited from) that became the foundation of the old covenant.
A covenant is a legal relationship of mutual demands and benefits between two parties, used in the bible to mostly describe the relationship of God with his people. It incorporates divine promises and the obligations of the human component of the covenant.
In the book of Genesis, we also see the central place of sacrifice through individuals like Abel, Noah and the trio of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when it comes to relationship with God. It would later be incorporated in a more elaborate manner in the verbal and written document (outlined in the next four books after Genesis), called the Law.
It is the register of demands God made of the nation of Israel, and the divine commitment to the nation, based on his promise to Abraham to make him a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3). Therefore the old covenant is directly linked with God’s unique relationship with Abraham. God also has a unique relationship with Jesus (His Son) and the new covenant is linked directly to that.
God made a covenant with Abraham and the expanded version of it with the nation (the twelve tribes), has the Law as a main component.
A covenant is God’s means of having a relationship with an individual (Abraham, Jesus) (or a group) which would automatically qualify those associated with them (either naturally [the old covenant] or spiritually [the new covenant]) down the road to enjoy the benefit and be held accountable to fulfill the obligation of that relationship.
Adam was to have such a relationship with God that would benefit others, but he delivered an estranged relationship with God to his offspring which includes you and me, through natural birth. Jesus, the last Adam (1Corinthians 15:45) on the other hand causes us to enjoy the benefit of his relationship with God through faith, through spiritual birth.
Abraham could as well the “middle” Adam.
Adam, Abraham and Jesus (first, middle and last Adam) had to be put to sleep at one time or the other, in the context that links them with those who would be affected, either positively or negatively, by their relationship (or lack of it) with God.
Adam was put to sleep to have his rib removed through which Eve was formed, and through Eve he gave birth to children who were all affected by his choice to disobey God (Genesis 2:21-23, Genesis 3.)
Abraham was put to sleep while God was making a covenant with him and was told that his descendants will suffer in a strange land (Egypt) and afterwards be set free. He was made aware of his offspring, those who would benefit from his special relationship with God (Genesis 15).
Jesus was put to “sleep” for three days after his crucifixion and death and those of us who will believe die with him and were raised up with him too (Romans 6) in a vicarious sense.
After the book of Genesis, the process of nation formation for the people of Israel, the offspring of Abraham (who would be the custodian of the old covenant) began; and what God had in mind is a piece of real estate for the children of Israel, through which he was going to have the nation become a symbol of the ideal nation with the possibility of influencing the world.
They were to be light for other nations. They were not supposed to mix (becoming polluted) but be a standard. But that nation failed again and again to hold up their end of the covenant, to be God’s people so that he would in turn be their God.
The history of the nation of Israel (from Joshua to Esther) as recorded in the bible, is replete with repeated failure of the supposed human-nation partner of the covenant to keep it, and the corresponding punishments of God for their consistent defection.
However, the prophets’ ministries were released into their midst to guide them on the right path, bringing the voice of God to them (with immediacy) in a bid to once and again bring them to the right path, but to little avail.
However, in those prophetic ministries, there is bountiful declaration of something new coming, which would emerge from the ashes of the old covenant and trumping it. The prophets present the plan of God for a new moral, social, spiritual and economic reality, describing the new covenant. They proclaimed this, amidst the declaration of judgment on the rebellious and unfaithful nation of Israel and the godless nations around them.
There was the introduction of the concept of the new covenant and what it will be characterised by was unveiled. It was to entail the removal of the heart of stone in man for it to become heart of flesh (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-27); it is the miraculous and spiritual writing of the demands of God on the heart, on tablets of flesh and not on stone- God establishing his control inside individuals by the Holy Spirit.
There was the prophecy of God, making water available in the wilderness (the operation of the Holy Spirit springing in man) (Isaiah 41:17-20), and there was the prophecy of buying without money and without price (the free offer of salvation) (Isaiah 55:1-5). All these words were coded impressions of the New Covenant.
Therefore in the Old Covenant itself, there were the foundations of the new: the practical, legal and prophetic foundations.
The practical foundation: love
When it comes to the practical foundation, we see Jesus declaring that the greatest commandment (quoting from the Old Testament) is love while answering a question from someone (Mark 12:28-37, Deuteronomy 10:12, 30:6). Then when alone with his disciples, he says that a new commandment he gives them, that they should love one another, adding that if they love him they would keep his commandment (John 13:34-35, 14:23, 15:10).
Apostle John took that love- theme up and expanded it. Speaking of the imperative of love as the valid content of the believer, he said that we should love our fellow believer and love God (1John). He shows us that being selfish is against the spirit of the new covenant and warns of the possibility for worldliness creeping in to choke the love of God.
Paul added that all the law is fulfilled in loving your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14-16). So no one should judge us Christian, based on certain observance of the law, because of a higher principle of love that we operate in (Colossians 2:8-23). And those of us who are in Christ, the demands of the law have been fulfilled in us, who walk according to the spirit and not according to the flesh (Romans 8:1-4).
The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5). We no longer subject ourselves to dos and don’ts; to regulations: touch not, eat not, because we recognise that these legalistic stands do not help against the indulgence of the flesh or the corruption of the heart for that matter.
We depend solely on Christ and not on our own strength to deliver righteousness to us(Philippians 3:1-9), i.e. right standing with God, to us. We realise that there is a new order of relationship with God made available through Jesus, an entrance into the very presence of God (not available under the old [Hebrews 9:24]) symbolized by the miraculous tearing (top to bottom) of the veil of the temple at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:50-51).
The legal foundation: blood
As the legal foundation, we have the sacrificial system set up in the law in the Old Testament where blood was the symbol of the covenant. Paul concluded that the law (with the sacrificial system as a component) represents the shadow while the substance is in Christ (Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 8:4-13, Hebrews 10:1-22).
Jesus Christ said it this way: I have not come to do away with the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18). He fulfilled the sacrificial demands of the Old Testament as “dramatized” in the daily sacrifices when the system was at his peak. He is the Lamb of God (John 1:36). He offered his blood not in an earthly temple but in heaven, before God himself (Hebrews 9:6-28), meaning that the blood of Jesus has a higher significance, nay, the ultimate significance in bridging the gap between God and man.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referred to some items in the Law and set out to redefine them (Matthew 5:20-48). Without the background of the Law, he would not make much sense to the people.
Whatever Jesus did, laying down his life, shedding his blood for the new covenant was to bring us to God.
Prophetic foundation: word
The prophetic foundation for the New covenant, was laid in the Old Testament. Peter wrote that the prophets of old wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:20-21, 1Peter 1:9-13), they wrote of the salvation that would be revealed through Jesus Christ; how he would be as light to the gentiles (Luke 2:32, Isaiah 9:2, Isaiah 49:6).
The new covenant makes sense of some of the words in the old. For example, because God told David that his throne will endure forever (Luke 1:30-33, 2Samuel 7:11-13, Psalm 132:11, Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6), the nation of Judah refused to listen to the warning of God’s judgment their prosperity and the sweeping judgment that would come against the nation from the Babylonian empire removing it from the Promised Land. They thought God would not allow anybody to destroy the beautiful temple of Solomon. They thought God was like the gods of other nations, who can’t do much. They were dead wrong, misjudging the Holy One of Isreal.
But in Christ we realised that God’s plan for the throne of David finds fulfilment. He is the one who has the right to the throne by divine appointment. It is very clear that the Old Testament books find elevated meaning from the point of view of the new and the new emerged from the old.
Paul said that the Israelites were the custodians of the oracles of God, they received the words through divine writing emissaries. They preserved the sacred 39 books of the Old Testament (Romans 3:1-2).
The books of the New Testament, introduces us to the one the Old Testament point to- Jesus the Christ (Messiah in the Old Testament) (Luke 24:25-27).
And in the book of Genesis we read of the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). That term only makes full sense in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, making him fit as the pure Lamb of God, who shares the human nature but not the human sin.
The sin “gene” is male “transmitted”, Y-chromosome linked. (Don’t ask your biology teacher!)
The bible said through the disobedience of one man, Adam, sin entered into the world (Romans 5:12-21). Sin did not enter through Eve though she sinned first, but through the man. Since all male are in the form of Adam they are able to transmit the sin nature spiritually.
The man is the earthly primal source (from him the woman came) of the human race. If he is not polluted then all is well, if not, then all is affected through him. He is the gatekeeper and he opened the door to sin (influenced of his wife).
So are the women free?
No. Since as a woman you have a male-father (tautology?).
So is Jesus a supernatural “clone” from one of the ovum of Mary?
Of course yes. How else can he qualify to be the seed of David? It is by being of the seed of the woman a woman from the line of David- Mary. And the seed of the woman is the ovum.
In conclusion, the sacrifice of Jesus is the fulcrum on which both testaments rotates- foretold in the old, actualized in the new and activated in the life of the believers.
- No Longer At Sin’s Beck And Call (christyrawls.com)
- Entering The Eternal Covenant (themoresureword.com)
- God’s not mad at you (Grace- not anger- is God’s “default” stance in relationships!_ (andrewejenkins.wordpress.com)
- Deliverance. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- To Every Generation: The Mandate of Intergenerational Worship Part II- New Signs (tableprepared.wordpress.com)
- The New Covenant, part 2 (lifereference.wordpress.com)
- The Brevity of Genesis 15 (theidolbabbler.wordpress.com)
- Why We Need Jesus Christ? (isaiah556.wordpress.com)
- The Newness of the New Covenant (davidjosephbalzer.wordpress.com)
- Covenant (asatisfiedspirit.com)