Ive been trying to understand these covenants and what they mean and what they don’t mean. Its all a bit complicated, isnt it?
But not any more. Tahdah!
If we exclude all the promises (to people) and commands (to Adam) and renewals of previous covenants (Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, David, via prophets) and feasts etc. then we are left with just three explicit covenants.
What I mean by explicit is that God says “this is a covenant”.
The three covenant choices you have
In short, the three covenants are…
- First covenant… Gen 15 when God makes a covenant with Himself to be cause Abraham’s descendants to inherit the land that He gives them
- Second covenant… Deut 27 and the chapters before and after when God presents the law via Moses and says this is a covenant
- Third covenant… Jer 31:31-34 God promises to make a “new covenant” and in Luke 22:20 Jesus Christ confirmed “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
Ok, so that’s the 3 covenants… described in a very very non-religious way.
God does not break His covenants. The third one… the new covenant… is a “better” covenant, but if you want to you can still try to enter into the other two covenants.
But before you do, let’s take a high level non-religious look at them.
What are the benefits to each of the covenants? Basically…
- God promises to bring Abraham’s descendants into their land and to bless the world through them and to be good to them.
- God promises intense blessings to anyone in this second covenant… but also curses if you fail to be obedient
- God promises vast promises of Heaven on Earth, the Holy Spirit poured out on all flesh, seeing God’s face, God walking amongst us, a complete end to death, people who die at 100 will be considered to have died in their youth, eternal life given NOW, He in us and we in Him… so many many promises. To read all of them you need to study Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Jeremiah and other prophets.
Ok, so when choosing a covenant to come into, are there any gotchas (for gentiles) to worry about?
- If you want to enter into the first covenant then you need to receive by faith that you are a child of Abraham by faith, as Paul describes in the book of Hebrews – through Jesus Christ. Then the promises of that covenant apply to you because you are a spiritual heir of Abraham through your being IN Jesus Christ (a Jew).
- If you want to enter into the second covenant with God, then you need to be perfect, as Jesus Christ said “you must be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect”. Unfortunately this is impossible… without faith in Jesus Christ. The full list of laws is over 600+ long. This is why the Jews have spent so much time and effort to create outer laws that surround the core inner laws. If you can keep the outer ones then you are probably keeping the inner ones. No one has managed to achieve it yet, not that I know of, despite a LOT of hard work over thousands of years.
- Nothing is required other than to believe that Jesus Christ did it for you.
NOTE: I strongly recommend you don’t enter into the second one, because the curses come upon you if you do not keep the laws perfectly. Since you cannot keep the laws it is absolutely certain that you will live in the curses.
And so I have come to the point of this post… no… the above wasn’t the point it was the context 🙂
But first just a small bit of background…
In the first covenant God made a covenant with HIMSELF. Abraham was asleep, he was unable to do anything other than somehow watch what was happening.
It was God Himself (seen as a single glowing torch) Who walked alone between the pieces of meat that had been cut in half – which is how people established covenants in those days.
The Jews today
Because God made the covenant with Himself, there is no way for Him to break that covenant with Himself… which is why right now He is collecting Jews from all over the world into that tiny bit of land. Because He is still being faithful to that covenant, He will fight against any nation that opposes what He is doing with the Jews. Because He is still being faithful to that covenant, He will bless any nation which blesses the Jews.
As Paul describes, this covenant applies to all the children of Abraham, whether by birth or spiritual children – so you can enter into this covenant too, by faith through Jesus Christ.
The New Covenant
But. Wait. Before you choose to enter into that “old” covenant… NOW I really HAVE come to the point of this post… 🙂
Let’s consider how the New Covenant works. Remember, the new covenant was promised in Jer 31:31-34 and the effects of this new covenant are impressively described in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Joel and other prophets.
The third covenant (the “new covenant”) works differently to the other two. In the first God makes a covenant with Himself and nothing is required of the nation or people. In the second God makes a covenant but requires complete obedience to the law.
In the third something different to those two happens. God makes a covenant with Himself – because Jesus Christ IS God – and then all the benefits that Jesus Christ “collected” are left as a “will” to anyone who believes in Him.
Let’s talk about that “will”, or many use the word “testament”. It is what people write down while they are alive about what happens to their “stuff” when they die.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. – Heb 9:16
When Jesus Christ died, He inherited everything… literally… He had all power in Heaven and on Earth.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. – Matt 28:18
And if you have read my previous post today: The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet then you will see the interplay between God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ… and you.
Its good to study that post so that you can grasp how the Holy Spirit enables you to learn about and gain access all that Jesus Christ has left for you.
But the Comforter, [even] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you. – John 14:26
So there is a lot that Jesus Christ has which is yours… He left a will (a testament) and in His will He made incredible things available to you.
The point Im really trying to make is this… God made the third and new covenant with Himself (because Jesus Christ IS God) and there is nothing you need to do.
What God did for Abraham was in response to Abraham’s faith. God covenanted with HIMSELF, but He did it in Abraham’s presence because of Abraham’s faith.
God walked between the carcasses alone… Abraham’s descendants would benefit from the covenant, but it was God alone who walked as a single torch between the pieces… Abraham was in a sleep and only saw what was happening…
And now in the third covenant, the new covenant, God has covenanted with Jesus Christ (HIMSELF) and you and I gain access to all that Jesus Christ did and all He made available to you in His “will” which became active after He died… you receive the contents of that will through your faith.
Its NOT like the second covenant
Although the new covenant looks somewhat similar to the first covenant with Abraham, God says in Jer 31:31-32 it WILL NOT BE like the second covenant which was created via Moses as they were brought out of Egypt…
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt, – Jer 31:31-32
There God says explicitly… it is NOT like the performance based obedience second covenant.
So let go of any concept that this third covenant is requiring anything of you, it is not. The new covenant was kept by God with God through God and it has nothing to do with your performance.
However. Abraham believed. And you and I are required to believe.
You need to receive it BY FAITH through Jesus Christ, because it is extended to you through His “will” and testament. (Not His testimony, His testament).
It’s all there. Receive it by faith.