Have you ever wondered if certain Old Testament promises or covenants in Scripture were ever made obsolete with a New Testament teaching?
In a wonderful article from One for Israel, we read: “If the new covenant in Yeshua replaced the old Jewish covenant, why do we need to read the Old Testament at all? Hebrews 8:13 tells us, “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” Many Christians think that since Yeshua came and fulfilled all the Law in himself, there is no need any longer for the cumbersome and problematic Old Testament.” We must remember that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)
Essential in navigating the Bible is to understand the covenants in it. There are not only two covenants, but five (or even more, depending on how you count them). There was the conditional covenant given to Moses on Mount Sinai which the death and resurrection of Yeshua completed, but what about the others?
God made covenants that affect us all with Noah, with Abraham and with David, as well as the one given through Moses and the New Covenant in Yeshua.
With each covenant we need to ask:
- Who the promises are for?
- Is the covenant permanent or temporary?
- Is it given with certain conditions, or freely and unconditionally?
This helps us to understand why the New Covenant that Jesus introduced does not cancel the whole Old Testament, but only relates to the temporary covenant with Moses, which was very much conditional. The people of Israel failed spectacularly, were exiled and punished, and the Mosaic law with its system of sacrifices was replaced by the ultimate, permanent sacrifice of the Messiah, once and for all. A “new and better way” to God was carved out for us in the Messiah’s blood. The instructions to live in a God-honoring way were replaced by an even higher standard, with the law written in our hearts and the Holy Spirit given to help us live in the radical way of the Messiah.
However, God’s promise to Noah never to flood the earth again still stands, his promises made in his covenant to Abraham were never annulled, and neither was his covenant relating to David’s throne. Not only that, but the words of the Mosaic Law also remain valuable to us in helping us appreciate God’s nature, his heart, and he has also woven many amazing clues about what was to come throughout the entire Torah.
God has not reneged on his promises and gifts to Israel (since as Paul says in Romans 11, they are irrevocable) and Yeshua will come and reign on the throne of David. Where is that? Jerusalem! Just as it has been amazing to watch God fulfilling his promises to regather Israel from the nations and reestablish them in the land, so we can look forward to all the other promises that God has made to the nation of Israel coming to pass – they are our bona fide guarantee that God keeps his promises. So many people don’t know what to make of the Jewish Scriptures at all, never mind how to use the text properly. It is a lifetime’s journey to learn how to understand the Bible and use it properly.
Understanding Israel is key.
The Bible is a supernatural book containing prophecy and wisdom far greater than anything natural man could concoct – prophecies about the Messiah, Israel and the Middle East, and about world events. We have the advantage of looking back and comparing the prophecies and Yeshua’s life and seeing that the Bible is stunningly accurate in its predictions, and now also the privilege of seeing God’s word coming to pass for Israel, but there is much more to come. The Bible is as relevant today as it ever was – this is the time not to neglect the Scriptures, but to really get to grips with them, so that we can understand the author better, know where he says we are going, and be able to stand strong till the end in His word.
We would encourage you to dig deeper into the subject of God’s covenants with Israel and how they are relevant even today. It is a slippery slope to consider negating sections of Scripture just because it doesn’t fit with the culture of today. Its been said that if you feel like you are no longer as close to God as you once were, it’s not because He has moved!