Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Old and New Covenant

Father God, I come before your grace this morning to express how thankful I am to be called one of your children.  I pray that I continue to walk in the light and to shun those that are contrary to you.  I pray oh God, that you bless the reader and doer of your word.  I pray oh God, that your Holy Spirit set the atmosphere to receive your message this morning.  I pray oh God that any offense performed would be forgiven.  I pray a blessing of peace upon your children, and I pray that you grant me the discernment to see when things are not of you.  I give you all honor and glory, and I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

Family, I do not claim to know it all.  I do not claim to be a new millennium scholar.  All I can share is God has truly been good to me and my family and I learned that it was by His grace, and by my obedience to His word.  Because of this, I wanted to learn more about God, and how He has behaved towards the inhabitants of this world.  It would make sense to do this because of His omnipresent nature.  If I could learn how to be a better child of God by learning how people of old did it, then I would seek that information.  I could not go to heaven to find these things out.  Nor could I have consulted with an angel.  I am able to ascertain this information by reading His complete, infallible and inerrant word which is compiled in the bible.
Pastor Chris Likely, when giving a topic for his sermons, would always provide definitions for key words in his topic.  This was unusual, and I must say he was the first I came across who did this.  I would even admit that at times it was annoying to me.  Well, I must put my foot in my mouth.  I see why at times it is necessary.  People use words and phrases in sentences all the time, and are unaware of the meaning.  So to take a page out of his book, I want us to clearly take a look at the three key words in my title.
Covenant - an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.  Bible: (a) the conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture. (b) The agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.
Old - far advanced in the years of one's or its life: an old man; an old horse; an old tree; belonging to the past: the good old days; no longer in general use: This typewriter is an old model.
New - of recent origin, production, purchase, etc.; having but lately come or been brought into being: a new book; other than the former or the old: a new era; in the New world; being the later or latest of two or more things of the same kind: the New Testament; a new edition of Shakespeare.
                There are 66 books that make up the bible that we read.  It is divided into two main parts.  They are the Old Testament which consists of 39 books, and the New Testament which consists of 27 books.  Now looking at my key words, one can gather that there was an agreement between two parties or more, and that another agreement possibly between the same parties has taken precedence over the prior.  Like in all agreements especially between the same parties, some of the details will remain the same.  However it is the new details which now make it a new agreement.  When reading the bible, there is a reason for why part of the bible is considered old, and the other part is considered new.  There were things that were of practice, but since the establishment of the “new”, those practices are no longer necessary.
I have also learned that the Old Testament consists of 3 parts; civil (law), ceremonial (ordinances), and moral (behavior).  I have learned that the moral part transcends time.  For example, we have the 10 Commandments.  The first 4 tells us how our relationship with God is to be.  The last 6 tells us how our relationship with each other is to be.  Jesus mirrors this by saying “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Mt 22:37-40)  However, the civil and some ceremonial practices are no longer required.  For example, the law (civil) reads “For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death (not eventually will die). He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.” (Lev 20:9) My neighbors have two teenage sons who curse at them all the time and I have yet to see any of them drop dead (and yes I have spoken to them).  Nor do I see any animal sacrifices being performed in any churches I have been a part of. (Lev 1:1-17)  It appear that people for the sake of a specific direction would refer to an old practice that for one is no longer applicable, and two, they were not part of the agreement.
The covenant that was made in the Old Testament was not made for you and me.  The bible states “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” (Gen 17:7)  This covenant was between God, Abraham, and his descendants who we learn are the children of Israel.  The details of the covenant were explained in Gen 17:10-21.  God is faithful and to continue to honor His covenant, He spoke with Moses after the exodus and laid them out in full detail in Leviticus.  However you have those who want to apply an old covenant as though they were part of that agreement.  We are part of a new covenant.  The bible states “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Gal 3:22-25)  Does that make sense?  So why don't we try to follow all of the laws God gave to the Israelites?  There is no separation between some of the Old Testament laws.  Some try to separate the “nice” ones from the ones that are not so nice. Either we obey all of the laws God gave to the Israelites or none of the laws God gave to the Israelites. It is not a menu that we just get to pick out the ones we want to obey.  Lastly, why do we need Jesus if we continue to revert to ways of old? 
God allowed a new covenant to take precedence over the old and that all have an opportunity to partake of the promise that was made to Abraham.  The bible states “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col 2:11-14) The KJV uses the word “ordinances” instead of “requirements”, and the Greek word for ordinances is “dogma” which is defined as a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical):--decree, ordinance.  I pray that we all honor God in sincerity and in truth, and rightly dividing and applying His word to our lives.  Amen.

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