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The Change of Covenants

(Hebrews 8:6-13; Matthew 5:38,39,43,44)

Lesson 1 -- first quarter 2003
December 1, 2002

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications


Even before man first sinned thousands of years ago, God fully intended to fully redeem him. The old imperfect covenant was a leap in that direction, having within it the promise of something better yet to come. That something was actually Someone! God sent His only Son as "the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). Take note of just a few ways in which the New Covenant that we have is better than the Old Covenant that the Israelites had.

Of the Israelites God says, "I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt" (Hebrews 8:9). What could possibly be better than that? To have God Himself holding my hand and leading me . . . oh my! For what would you wish to improve on that scenario? Well, I doubt if any human ever even began to faintly imagine the Father's big improvement on that wonderful privilege. But He did bring about something better: "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20). What a God we serve! Leave it to Him to bring forth something even better than leading us by the hand.

To Moses God declared, "I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written" (Exodus 24:12). What a treasure! Can you imagine how incredibly wonderful it must have been to receive from God that stone treasure, inscribed by God Himself with His own laws and commandments? And then later to have that law and those commandments "written in this book" (Deuteronomy 28:58)? Like I say, what a treasure to have convenient access to a convenient record of the Eternal One's thoughts, ways, and commandments. Could anything possibly be better than that? Yes, but I don't think I would have thought of it: "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). What a promise . . . and what a privilege: Instead of writing on stone, God now writes on our hearts -- that is definitely better than before!

In the Old Testament, when God's people sinned, they could receive forgiveness through the system of sacrifices. But all that blood that was shed could not accomplish the removal of sin, only the covering of it. Notice this backward look to that time as recorded in Hebrews 10:4 -- "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Despite that limitation, the sacrifices still brought the blessed gift of forgiveness from God. Praise God for His provision in that way! But in our day, we have a better way to deal with our sin: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). My friend, our sin is forgiven and taken away, making us clean from all sin! No wonder God freely promises, "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12). I'm sure you agree that this is far better!

He said it; that settles it.

When God established the laws of the Old Testament, He meant what He said. And the fact that He said it with conviction established and settled those laws. The Israelites did not receive the privilege of arguing and debating the validity, fairness, or reasonableness of the laws. Nor did they have the freedom to look back to some previous arrangement that gave them greater liberty or license. No! But it was their privilege and freedom to accept, submit, and obey.

In our day the "arrangement" is no different. When Jesus said, "But I say unto you," He meant what He said. That settled those matters. We His people have no need nor right to argue and debate the validity, reasonableness, or fairness of what He declared. And it certainly isn't up to us to look back to the Old Covenant hoping to establish some better way. No! The Master's way is that better way! Why look back?

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