Examining Biblical covenants: Part three

by Paula Whiting - Teacher, Messianic Fellowship

by Paula Whiting

Teacher, Messianic Fellowship

God is always coming down to us and making a way for us to walk with Him and to know Him better. He is eager to be in a committed relationship with the creatures He made in His own image. When Yeshua (Jesus) came to earth as an infant son of Miriam (Mary and Joseph, Matthew 1), He came to fulfill His Heavenly Father’s commitments made in previous Covenants with Adam, Abraham and Israel many centuries — even millennia — earlier. God never forgets nor neglects His covenantal promises.

All of God’s covenants with mankind have similar terms; there are specifics for each generation but the bulk of the terms are generally the same. For example, in the Biblical covenant commonly called the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 19-20) we have the 10 words or Commandments that are in effect a synopsis of the entire relationship between God and Israel along with the mixed multitude that left Egypt with them (Exodus 12:38).

That relationship is more clear as we read the rest of the Bible. Yes, there were many Gentiles among Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness and they were all to have the same rules of relating to God, worshipping Him and honoring each other; in other words, they all lived under the same covenant. (Numbers 9:14; 15:16)

It wasn’t until after Israel was redeemed (saved) from slavery to Egypt that God initiated a covenant with them, and out of gratitude and respect for their God and King, all Israel (with the assimilated Gentiles) in one voice entered into a committed relationship with Him. This was a national covenant. As the years passed and Israel repeatedly broke the covenant, instead of destroying them completely, God initiated a New Covenant with them (Jeremiah 30-31).

The major difference between the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant is not the terms of the covenant but the location on which it is written. The terms, known as the law or Torah, were now to be written on Israel’s hearts instead of on tablets of stone. Motivation to follow God is to become an internal passion not just an external list of dos and donts.

We can see the basic terms remain the same for present day Israel as they were in Moses’ day. The question is how is the new covenant initiated and put into place by God? It is through the blood of the Jewish Messiah, the Lamb of God, that the Torah/Law of God is now written on the hearts of Israel and the mixed multitude that are with them (see Romans 9-11).

Yeshua’s (Jesus) life, death, resurrection and new life is the “activator” of the blood covenant known to most of us as the New Covenant. Now let’s see if He-Yeshua would agree with my assessment of the terms of the covenant:

Matthew 5:17-19 17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

This statement is very clear: the Law was not abolished by Jesus, rather He upholds the Law and fulfills it. The word “fulfill” in the first century Hebrew language was a technical rabbinic term that meant to “properly interpret,” thus “filling full” the Scripture with the proper meaning and significance, enabling people to apply the word of God, the terms of the covenant, directly to their lives. So when Yeshua says in John 14, “If you love me you will obey me,” it is very clear Yeshua expected His followers to reciprocate His kindness to them by obeying Him.

Being in Covenant with the God of the Bible does not “release” people from any obligations or responsibilities toward Him. Instead it is quite the opposite. Obedience does not redeem us, only God can do that. Obedience is what we do out of love, respect, gratitude, an act of worship, the acceptance that God is the King/Ruler of our lives.

So if you claim to be in a covenantal relationship with the God of the Bible, consider, is your commitment in line with the terms of the covenant, or is it a relationship of “when it is convenient, I will worship and obey?”

Sedalia Democrat
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