The Old and New Covenants

Consider some details about the two major covenants found in the Bible – the Old Testament and the New Testament.

DEFINING THE TWO COVENANTS

NAMESOld (Heb 8)
First (Heb 8)
Law of Moses (Lk 24:44)
Yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1)
The Law (Gal 3:23)
New (Heb 8)
Second (Heb 8)
Law of Christ (Gal 6:2)
Law of liberty (Jms 1:25)
The Faith (Gal 3:23)
TEXTSGenesis to MalachiMatthew to Revelation
SUBJECTSJews (Deut 4:44)All men (Eph 2:14)
BEGINNINGMount Sinai (Ex 31:18)Cross (Col 2:14)

Hebrews 8:13 calls the Old law “obsolete,” “growing old,” and “ready to vanish away.” Meanwhile, the New law is identified as “a more exceelent ministry,” “a better covenant,” containing “better promises.”

WHEN DID THE NEW REPLACE THE OLD?

Colossians 2:14 says the old law was “nailed to the cross.” Hebrews 9:18-22 references the establishment of the first covenant by blood (sacrifices). Verses 15-17 say the same is true of the New covenant, with Jesus, the Lamb of God, being the sacrifice.

WHAT WAS DONE AWAY WITH?

English Law (UK) ceased in Canada when the Constitution came into force (1867). Similarly, my grandfather’s 1995 will was used after his death instead of a will he had written in 1982. When the gospel of Christ was established, the Law of Moses was removed. Thus, none of the Old Testament (including the Ten Commandments) is in force today. There will be areas of similarity (ie. murder is illegal in both England and Canada), but they are still distinct laws.

In the Bible, we will find similarities in the Old and New Testaments (ie. 9 of the 10 commandments are found in the New Testament), but don’t mistake that to mean the Old Covenant is still in force. It is not. It was exclusively for the Jews; the gospel is for all.

THE OLD TESTAMENT REMAINS VALUABLE…

Though it is not our law, the Old Covenant is helpful to the child of God. In reading it, we learn about God and His interaction with His people. The Old Testament reveals many fulfilled promises of God, which will bolster our faith. Paul wrote of the Old Covenant, “…whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). And again, “…all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

DISCERNING THE COVENANTS

OT SHADOW
(Colossians 2:17)
NT REALITY
(Hebrews 9:8-11)
Text
Animal sacrificesThe Lamb of God1 Corinthians 5:7
Ten CommandmentsLaw of ChristGalatians 6:2
Sabbath dayFirst day of the weekActs 20:7
Physical sanctuaryOur bodies1 Corinthians 6:19
AltarSelf-sacrificePhilippians 4:18
CandlesGospel lightRevelation 1:20
IncensePrayer of the saintsRevelation 5:8
Separate priesthoodAll believers are priests1 Peter 2:4-10
Priestly garmentsGood deedsRevelation 19:8
Instrumental musicPlay heart stringsEphesians 5:19
TithingFreewill offering1 Corinthians 16:2
CircumcisionBaptismColossians 2:11-13

Let’s be students of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Study the new because it is our covenant. We must know what it says, otherwise, how can we obey it? But do not neglect the study of the Old. Though it is not our law, there are many good things for us to learn, such as the history of God’s covenant people of the OT. In the Old Testament we will learn about the character of God; we will see His goodness, His patience, His judgment. The more we study the covenants, the more we will see their relationship to one another. May God bless our studies and may we grow in faith.

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