GOD’S ETERNAL PLAN TO REDEEM MAN [Part Fifteen]
“According to the eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11)
By Bob Myhan
The New Testament
As pointed out in part nine of this series, most who believe the Bible do not understand how the Old and New Testaments relate to one another. Some seem to think that all who are living today are under both, while others seem to think that the Old Testament is no longer relevant and that we do not need to study it. Both ideas are erroneous. It is true that the Old Testament, “the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given” (Ezra 7:6), was added to God’s covenant with Abraham (Gal. 3:19), but the New Testament was not added to the Old Testament. Rather, the New replaced the Old.
then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. (Heb. 10:9)
The replacement of the Old Testament by the New Testament was prophesied in the Old Testament.
"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer. 31:31-34)
This is clearly stated to have been fulfilled in the epistle to the Hebrews.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8:7-13)
There are many ways in which the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. First, the Old Covenant was written on tablets of stone, whereas the New Covenant is written on tablets of flesh.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech-- unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:1-18)
Second, there was a need, under the Old Covenant, to teach the Hebrew children and the Gentile proselytes about the living God. However, under the New Testament this knowledge would precede entrance—via the new birth—into the Kingdom (John 3:3-5).
Third, under the Old Covenant, there was the annual Day of Atonement, wherein the sins of the people would be commemorated. But the New Covenant, there would be no need for a commemoration of sins because it would accomplish what could not be accomplished [and was never intended by God to be accomplished] under the Old Covenant. Among those things are:
1. Freedom from the curse of law (Gal. 3:1-14)
2. Freedom from law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1-3)
3. Perfection of worshippers (Heb. 10:1-10)
Fourth, Jesus is both High Priest and Mediator, two offices that were separated under the Old Covenant.
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (Heb. 8:1-6)
Fifth, the New Covenant required better sacrifices than the Old Covenant.
Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Heb. 9:22-23).
Sixth, the Old Covenant was dedicated by the blood of animals; the New Covenant was dedicated by Jesus’ blood.
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. (Heb. 10:11-18)
[To be continued]