The study of
the major covenants in the Bible is, in effect, the
study of Godís plans and purposes. (Psalm 25:14)
contains many covenants. Covenants are promises or
agreements. Some are purely one-sided, not dependent
upon any cooperation. Such was the rainbow covenant of
Genesis 9:8-17. Some covenants are conditional like the
Jewish Law Covenant which would bring its blessings only
if those under it would "do" the things it required.
(Galatians 3:10-12) That will also be the nature of the
New Covenant once it is put into effect. (Revelation
20:12) But, at that time, mankind will have the
ability to do what is asked because that New
Covenant will be written in the hearts of people instead
of on stone. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
covenant of Scripture is the Abrahamic Covenant which
Paul calls the Gospel itself. (Galatians 3:8) This
Covenant, strangely, seems rarely discussed in Christian
circles though it is the all-encompassing covenant of
the Bible. In simplest terms, God promises
unconditionally that He will use the "seed of Abraham"
as the tool to bless all the families of the earth.
What a promise! What a Covenant! (Genesis 12:3) We
will return to look at its features after considering
some other points.
covenant is the equivalent of the word testament. As we
all are aware, the Bible is divided into two parts, one
(originally in Hebrew) is called "The Old Testament;"
the other (originally in Greek) is called "The New
Testament." Because people are so used to these terms,
and because the Abrahamic Covenant has almost been lost
sight of, most Christian people simply have assumed that
Jesusí first advent was the end of the "Old Testament"
(the Jewish Law Covenant) and the beginning of the "New
Testament" (that which Jeremiah 31 called a New
Covenant). This simplistic thinking not only is wrong,
but it destroys the very Gospel (the Abrahamic Covenant)
which Paul taught in Galatians 3 and which Jesus
between the two advents of Christ is set aside for the
development of "the body of Christ," Christís Church
the Seed of Abraham which inherits the promise that it
eventually will bless all the nations of earth.
(Galatians 3:29, 8) Once that seed is completed, the
New Covenant will be ready to function.
THE OLD AND
We call the
Jewish Law Covenant "old" because it now is
out-of-date. Paul says that its purpose was to lead
Israel to Christ. (Galatians 3:24) Obviously, when
Messiah came, the Law no longer was necessary.
(Galatians 3:25) However, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, Jesus
was the end of the Law ONLY TO EVERYONE THAT
BELIEVETH. (Romans 10:4) Jews who have not
accepted Jesus as Christ ARE YET UNDER THE LAW. When
Paul is contrasting the New Covenant to the Law
Covenant, he says that the Law "decayeth and waxeth old
and is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13) Notice!
He did not say it was gone. As a matter of fact, the
Greek word he used for "waxeth old" means growing
SENILE. Senility is the condition of living in the
past. Paul is saying that if Jews hang on to the Law,
they are living in the past
living under an agreement designed for a former age.
Covenant, according to the Apostle, is instituted
BECAUSE THE OLD ONE DIDNíT WORK. (Hebrews 8:7) This is
important. Paul does not reason that the old
covenant didnít supply what was needed; he reasons that
a new covenant is needed because the old one didnít
work. The reasoning is clear: the New Covenant will
supply what the Old (Law) Covenant couldnít
perfect eternal life on earth. Notice in Hebrews 8:8-12
that it is with Israel that the New Covenant is
once they come out from the senile covenant they still
cherish. (Hebrews 8:13)
Thus the Old
Law Covenant was not for Christians, and neither is the
New Covenant which replaces it. According to Galatians
3:17, the Law Covenant was ADDED to the Abrahamic
Covenant and cannot disannul it. And we have seen in
Hebrews that the New Covenant is A REPLACEMENT FOR AN
ADDITION! Hebrews 8 and Galatians 3 tell us BOLDLY that
Old and New Covenants are of secondary importance to the
Abrahamic Covenant to which they are added. Therefore,
Christians are not under either of these additions
because Christians are the product of the original
covenant. (Galatians 3:29)
Moses giving the Law Covenant to
4, Paul shows the allegorical nature of Abrahamís life.
Paul wants early Jewish Christians to understand that
they have absolutely no continuing responsibility under
the Law. To do this, he shows how God used the wives of
Abraham to picture how the Abrahamic Covenant would
unfold. If we recall that Abraham wearied in waiting
for "the promised seed," we can see how his taking Hagar
as a concubine produced a child which God refused to
recognize as the child of promise. Paul comments on
this in Galatians 4:22-28. He shows that Hagarís child
pictured Israel, the NATURAL seed of Abraham, but that
Sarah later produced Isaac, the seed of PROMISE. Paul
shows that we as Christians are the promised seed.
Sarah, obviously, did not represent a new
covenant. She was the first or oldest
wife of Abraham.
to mention the New Covenant in this passage because (1)
it was not time for it, and (2) his point was to show
the Galatians that they were being developed under the
the Law Covenant added to it, and certainly not the New
Covenant which Paul totally ignores here!
Interestingly, Abraham eventually had a third wife who
produced many children. If we follow Paulís lead about
Abrahamís wives being allegorical, it seems safe to
continue this reasoning that Keturah, the third wife,
pictures the New Covenant. Abraham took her to wife
after Sarah had died. Thus the New Covenant will go
into effect after the church is complete
after the Sarah (or Abrahamic) Covenant has produced its
promised seed. (Genesis 24:67-25:2)
It is very
important to note that, while the New Covenant does not
begin to FUNCTION until Christís peaceable kingdom, it
HAS BEEN IN PREPARATION since the first advent. The
blood which seals it was the blood Jesus spilled for our
redemption. (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22-26) In
Hebrews 8:6 it is shown clearly that the New Covenant
already is "established" (Greek = legislated). But this
does not mean it is functioning. This verse proves that
point by saying that it is "established upon...promises."
The New Covenant is insured and promised
because of Jesusí sacrifice. However, we donít need
promises once something is a reality.
primary covenant of the Bible is that made with Abraham
which promises to develop a seed which will bless all
families of the earth. That seed is Jesus and his
disciples who will do that work using the mediation of
the New Covenant as a tool to do so.
2. The Law
Covenant with Israel was added to the Abrahamic Covenant
in order (among other reasons) to bring Israel to
Christ. It did not do so nationally although it did
prepare many Jews to receive Messiah and become the
nucleus of the Gospel Age church. (The additional
members of that church would come from the Gentiles who
never were and are not now under that Jewish Law
3. The New Covenant is a replacement eventually for the
Jewish Law Covenant. It is to be made with the same
nation, but it will be made available to the whole world
symbolized by the "sea." (Isaiah 60:5) Once the
Gentiles have been converted, there will be "no more
sea" (Revelation 21:1) because there will be no more
restless masses that it pictures. All the world will
have to conform to the New Covenant arrangement through
Israel, or they will be denied the blessings.
(Zechariah 14:16-17; Jeremiah 31:31-34)
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