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Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New (Jesus) Covenants

The Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New (Jesus) Covenants
And What They Mean for Every Person, Dead or Alive

This article is based on information from the book, Creation’s Jubilee by Dr. Stephen Jones.  The material has been edited and direct quotes of Dr. Jones will be found in quotation marks.  I wanted to share this important information and considered it easier to merely copy the information or present it in an edited format. 

There are several covenants recorded in the Bible but only two that deal directly with the salvation of mankind:  The Old Covenant instituted through Moses and the New Covenant mediated by Jesus.  The Old Mosaic Covenant made mankind fully liable for all sin and the New Covenant made Jesus fully liable for the sins of all mankind.

The relationship between these two covenants: Old and New, can be better understood from a viewpoint related by Paul in Galatians 3:15.

Galatians 3:15-16 NET  Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When a covenant has been ratified, even though it is only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it.  (16)  Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, "and to the descendants," referring to many, but "and to your descendant," referring to one, who is Christ.

A covenant is a contract between two people, once signed and witnessed by both parties, it cannot be changed and one cannot refuse to abide by its content.  “God made a contract with Abraham and to his seed (descendants).”  This covenant was by the promise of God and was thus an unconditional covenant with Abraham.  “It was like a ‘promise to pay,’ a check that bore only one signature – that of God”.

In a usual covenant one animal is cut in half but God instructed Abraham to cut five animals as a five-fold fulfillment binding.  Both parties were to walk through the animal signifying the breaking of the covenant would result in being cut in half.  God knowing that a human cannot always be perfectly obedient put Abraham to sleep and passed through the animals alone.  “Only God bound Himself to perform certain things.  This is what Paul means when he says that this covenant was made ‘by promise’.  It is not ‘by agreement,’ which is two-sided. It is ‘by promise,’ which is one-sided”.  Since Abraham was put asleep and could not ratify the covenant, it was ratified by Jesus nearly 2000 years later as related by Paul:  When a covenant has been ratified….. , no one can set it aside or add anything to it. - Galatians 3:15.

Paul now contrasts the Abrahamic covenant with the covenant made with the Israelites through Moses.

Galatians 3:17 NET  What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise.

“You see, Paul is dealing with an apparent contradiction in these two covenants. The first said, ‘I promise to save all your seed and give them the Kingdom.’ The second said, ‘I will save you ONLY IF you are obedient.’”

Exodus 19:5-6 NET  And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine,  (6)  and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites."

“And so the problem that Paul raises in Galatians 3: 17 is this: Which covenant shall we follow in order to obtain the inheritance, or the promises? More than that, what is the relationship between the two covenants? If God already unconditionally promised the inheritance to Israel in the time of Abraham, then why institute a second covenant under Moses, a conditional covenant at that, which seemed to nullify the Abrahamic covenant?”

God does not desire rebellious or disobedient people.  A promise of salvation to all, regardless of their sin nature or disobedient actions is not the plan of God.  Therefore, the covenant under Moses established the judgments of God upon the sinful lawlessness and also set the standard for righteousness that all people will eventually attain.

“The law covenant, spoken out of the midst of fire, established not only the discipline to bring believers into maturity, but also established and defined a future “lake of fire” for the disobedient unbelievers”.

An Example by Dr. Jones
Suppose you were to go to your attorney and draw up your will. You decide to will your house and property to your son. It is done of your own free will, just because you love your son. Then you return home, tell your son what you have done, and promise that you will never revoke that will. A year later, you make another trip to the attorney’s office, this time taking your son with you. There you draw up a contract whereby you will give your son his inheritance, but he first must build a barn on the property. Both of you sign your names to this second contract, for he must be in agreement with this. The next year, you die. The attorney calls your son and reads the will to him. He is the inheritor of your house and property. This is a fact that cannot be nullified. However, since he has not yet completed the building of the barn, as specified in the second contract, he is unable to lay claim to his inheritance for the time being.

The Abrahamic covenant was unconditional and the Mosaic covenant was conditional upon obedience to the law of God, but the Mosaic covenant does not nullify the Abrahamic covenant.  To Abraham and his seed was given the inheritance of the Kingdom but the Mosaic covenant delayed the inheritance until a future time when the inheritors learned obedience.

Summary by Dr. Jones
But there is another, more universal level of meaning to this story. God chose Abraham and his seed to be a blessing to all families of the earth. Abraham was to be God’s attorney to call together all families of the earth (after the death of Jesus Christ) for a reading of His will. They are called to inform the world of their inheritance, now that the Testator has died. This covenant cannot be annulled for any reason. However, under Moses, God set a condition before that promise could be inherited. The condition is obedience. And so, we ask people to make a decision to follow Christ. What does this mean? It means, essentially, that we are to ratify, or sign our names to the Mosaic Covenant, promising to make Jesus the Lord of our life and obey His law (i.e., refrain from sin).

This is what it means to place our faith in Him. They have faith if they truly believe that God is able through Jesus Christ to fulfill His promise.  Salvation is not dependent upon the will of man, but of God. The will of man is never more powerful than the sovereignty of God.

And so, our decision to follow Christ— which is without question the most important decision we can make— is nonetheless NOT the true basis of our salvation. It was not the basis of Israel’s salvation either. We are not saved by the will of man, for the will of man has its roots in Moses, not in Abraham.

Our inheritance with God is instead based upon a better covenant, the new and unconditional covenant signed by Jesus in his own blood. Jesus’ death was the only condition by which the Abrahamic covenant could be obtained. A “last will and testament” is not in force until the death of him that made the will,

Hebrews 9:15-17 NET  And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant.  (16)  For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven.  (17)  For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive.

The inheritance is obtained by the will of God alone, and by the blood of the true Sacrifice for sin— Jesus Christ.  Those who believe that their own “decision” will save them, those who believe that salvation comes by the will of man, are in the same position as the majority were in the Old Testament.

Christianity for many has become a performance-based religion. So long as they see in themselves personal imperfections, they walk in guilt and fear, rather than in forgiveness and faith. The solution is to see that one’s salvation and justification, is based upon the decision of God Himself. Our ability to be obedient is a sanctification process by which we, as Christians, learn to hear God’s voice as He leads us to the new Promised Land, the perfection of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus never advocated breaking the law, nor did the Apostle Paul. But Paul very carefully explains to us that it is impossible for us to obtain our inheritance (salvation) by means of the law covenant.  It comes instead by the death of Jesus, which validated the Abrahamic covenant, the unconditional promise that we shall receive the inheritance. And what He has promised, He will see to it that it shall be done, for this is His Will.

E. Jones, Dr. Stephen (2014-08-06). Creation's Jubilee - God's Kingdom Ministries

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