22 October 2010

Question of the Week:
Why Not Skip the Old Covenant?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Why did God make an Old Covenant if He knew He was going to make a better Covenant?
~ Michaelle B., Michigan

There’s a joke which says God made Adam first as a rough draft, and Eve was perfection.

That implies that God was only warming up the first time around, and didn’t get it quite right until the second time.

God made male and female different, each one for a different purpose, and neither of them inferior to the other.

His covenants are also different, each one for a different purpose. However, the Bible clearly admits that the Old Covenant had problems:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
~ Hebrews 8:7 (NKJV)

The book of Hebrews elaborates about many problems with the Old Covenant. Among them are that it commanded sacrifices of animals be offered for sins, but ongoing sins meant the need for more sacrifices. Furthermore, the Old Covenant did nothing to fix the problem of sin by changing the sinner. And a person could not live solely by faith, because the Old covenant required them to live by rituals and sacrifices and laws.

Because Jesus (and only Jesus) fulfilled the requirements of the Old Covenant, He was able to make the New Covenant of grace. His sacrifice for sin was the final one, for all sins of all time. His covenant gives His Holy Spirit to His followers, so that we not only have a righteous standing before God (which permits us access to Him), but are also being changed to stop sinning. We are no longer required to live by law*, but can live by faith in God through His grace.

"Grace is when God gives you what you don't deserve and
mercy is when God doesn't give you what you do deserve."
~ Unknown

The problem with grace is that a person who receives grace doesn't recognize it unless that person has been without grace and knew the need for it.

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.
~ Galatians 3:23-25 (NKJV)

The law of the Old Covenant establishes that we are sinners because we inevitably break the law. Because of the Old Covenant, we understand our need for mercy. And only after we've understood what it is to live under law can we understand the freedom of grace.

*For more on what it means to live in freedom from law, see Question of the Week "Is it Wrong?"

For more on the continuing relevance of the Old Testament, see "
Value of the Old Testament?"

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. I'm always impressed how God tolerates our questions and I'm full of them. I wonder about why He created things the way He did knowing what we'd turn into. I wonder about the whole show down with Job. And I think about this question. The OT and NT. You've done a nice job of detailing the importance of both...but many of my questions will have to wait until heaven to be answered (and maybe won't even be then).

    Have a great weekend!
    ~ Wendy

  2. Very good discussion. The theological questions are sometimes the deepest and toughest to dig into, but are the most rewarding. It had to be a tough transition for many of the Jews to leave the old ways behind and refocus their understanding of temple, sacrifice, forgiveness and worship on Jesus. Many, in fact, could not make the transition. How blessed we are today. Good article.

  3. Wonderful post, bless you sis.

  4. I suppose we have to come away from this as a learning experience for man and not one for God. For whatever reason the old Covenant needed to be in play. Perhaps it is for our measure? Sometimes it's good to have an imperfect gift because when you get to perfection you really appreciate it!

  5. Why not skip the OT... 'cause it gives good introduction to NT

  6. Wendy ~

    I suspect any remaining questions may be irrelevant once we make it to the throne.

    And for what it's worth, I've pondered long and hard on Job lately. If you have a specific question, I'd love to attempt tackling it.

  7. Warren ~

    I'm most grateful for the feedback. Your comment made me realize the necessity of the temple being destroyed while the Gentiles were being brought into the church. It seems to me that the Lord completed in 70 AD what He'd begun with a torn veil in around 30 AD.

  8. Denise ~

    Thank you. The Lord does bless, abundantly. May He pour out blessing upon you as well.

  9. T ~

    If Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, I'm ready for Him to come again and fulfill all the remaining details of the New.

  10. T ~

    Excuse me! I meant SINCE Jesus was the fulfillment ... (not 'if')

  11. Natasa ~

    I think the OT is more than intro to the NT—it's also the translation handbook. :D