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."
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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© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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