A very good summary of the Old Testament Covenant is found in Exodus chapter 34. In Exodus 34:10 God is speaking to Moses, and the Bible says in Exodus 34:10-17, And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
The key to this passage of scripture is the word covenant that God used in verse 10. The Bible is telling us about what is commonly called the Mosaic Covenant, because it is a covenant that was enunciated to Moses. A covenant is simply a contract or an agreement between two individuals or between two parties. Usually in a covenant each party agrees to do something, and the covenant is in effect as long as each party keeps their side of the agreement. The Mosaic Covenant can also be called the Covenant of the Law, because the Law was the part that the Israelites had agreed to keep. The Law was made up of the Ten Commandments and all of the other Thou shalts and Thou shalt nots that were also given to the Israelites through Moses: a total of over four hundred commandments. This Covenant of the Law was in place and in effect all the way from the book of Exodus until the time of Christ. The Covenant of the Law is where the name Old Testament comes from. The word testament means covenant. Old Testament means old covenant, and old covenant means Old Testament.
The Bible is divided into two great divisions. The first division of the Bible is called the Old Testament because the covenant of the Law was in effect throughout most of the Old Testament books. Jesus brought the New Testament. That is to say, Jesus brought the new covenant. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. The New Covenant, which is founded in the blood of Christ, replaced the Old Covenant, which is founded in the requirements of the Mosaic Law. It is very important to understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament when studying the Bible. If you do not understand this difference, then you are likely to try and apply teachings from the Law to the Christian life. This would be a great mistake, and it will lead to false teachings and to invalid conclusions as to how Christians should live. This error of not properly seeing the difference between the Old Testament based upon the Law and the New Testament based upon the blood of Christ caused some people to be in error in the first century. Most of the book of Galatians is dedicated to explaining this difference between the Covenant of the Law compared to the principle of faith that Jesus brought. For example, it says in Galatians 2:16, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. It says in Galatians 3:2-3, This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? It says in Galatians 3:22-25, But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. And concerning some of those who had tried to apply some of the teachings of the Law to the Christian life such as the keeping of the Sabbath Day and the feast days, the Bible says in Galatians 4:9-11, But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. They observed days but they should not have done so, because the Sabbath days and the feast days were a part of the law.
These are the last days. Not many people study the Word of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Many people do study the Word of God with presuppositions and the traditions of their denomination or their theology taking sway. We are talking about Bible-believers. Here are some true statements that are often made: I believe the Bible, the entire Bible. The Bible is true and verifiable and accurate and useful in every part and in every Word. God said it, I believe it, that settles it. Anyone who can make such statements as these is in a very good place in life. There are far too few people in the world who can say such things. But in addition to saying these things the Bible-believer needs to understand and to say: The Bible is divided into two great parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is a great difference between the old covenant that was given through Moses, and the new covenant that was given through Jesus Christ. Most of the Old Testament, from the book of Exodus all the way past the Old Testament itself and up until Jesus died on the cross as recorded in the Gospels, was written to those who were under the Covenant of the Law. Most of the New Testament, starting with the death of Jesus on the cross and continuing through the book of Revelation, was written to Christians who are under the Covenant of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
There is a difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, just like there is a difference between law and grace. It says in John 1:17, The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Some of the teachings of the Old Testament no longer apply because we are in the age of the New Testament, and we are not under law but under grace. It says in Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. Some of the commandments of the Old Testament no longer apply because some of the commandments come from the law and the spirit of the law. For example, we no longer have a temple or a tabernacle, nor a priesthood, nor animal sacrifices, nor the feast days, nor Sabbath days, etc. These are all things that are part of the law and not a part of the age of grace. They are commanded in the Old Testament in the law, but they are set aside in this age of grace.
A Christian needs to understand that there are some commandments given in the Old Testament that do not apply now that we are in the age of grace. What is the best way to know which commandments are for Christians, and which commandments have a spiritual meaning but that should be left in the Old Testament where they were given? The way to find that out is by studying the New Testament. The New Testament is a fulfillment of the Old Testament. The New Testament also is an explanation of the Old Testament. There are many, many quotations and references from the Old Testament that are found in the New Testament, followed by explanations of those quotations and references. Therefore, in a way we can say that the New Testament is a commentary on the Old Testament. The New Testament explains to us which parts of the Old Testament are to be kept and followed by Christians. The epistles in the New Testament are written to Christians in order to tell Christians exactly what they should be doing as they attempt to live by faith for their Savior in this world. Nothing has been omitted or missed. The Holy Spirit did not leave anything out when He gave us the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to know if a particular commandment applies to Christians, simply look for that commandment in the epistles of the New Testament. The keeping of the Sabbath Days, the paying of tithes, and the spanking of children are Biblical teachings that can be found in the law and in the Old Testament, but cannot be found in the New Testament epistles. Therefore, those things are in the past with the rest of the Old Testament law.
We live in the last days. This generation of weak Christians has used the traditions of man and some false assumptions without meaning to do so; and many have forgotten that the Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament for a reason. Exodus chapter 34 is a wonderful passage of scripture to remind us of what the Covenant of the Law was all about. God said to Moses in Exodus 34:10, Behold, I make a covenant. Like all covenants in the Bible, it originated with God. God made the Old Covenant. This particular covenant was a two-way covenant. That is to say, it had obligations for God to keep, and it had obligations for man to keep. God made it clear what He would do, and God also made it clear what man was expected to do. Notice the very first thing that God said He would do as His part of the Covenant of the Law. God said, I will do marvels. This is the same word that God used when He told Moses concerning Egypt before the children of Israel came out of Egypt in Exodus 3:20, And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. God can do extraordinary things. God can do supernatural things. We believe in a supernatural God who can do supernatural wonders because He is a supernatural being. God lives above and beyond the natural world, and God controls the natural world. He created the universe and He controls it. He not only put everything in place that works the way it works, but He also overrides the natural whenever He chooses to do so. There are many people who have recovered from what should have been terminal diseases or fatal accidents, who know this very well. Many others have seen answers to prayer, and who therefore know very well that God can do marvels. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. Jesus said in Mark 10:27, With God all things are possible.
Concerning the marvels
that God performed for the children of
The Covenant of the Law had promises from God
concerning what He would do, and it also had responsibilities for what the
Copyright; 2011 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved