Many people believe that the Old Testament is outdated and not needed. Nothing could be further from the truth!
All [Old Testament] Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Entire denominations are based upon the irrelevancy of the Old Testament. The problem is that Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews didn’t have anything else BUT the Old Testament when they wrote. They referenced it 200+ times (ChristianQuestions.com). So, for the next three days, we will be looking at the relationship between the Old and New Covenants.
- A covenant is a binding contract between two parties, ratified by swearing an oath.
- The word “testament” and “covenant” are interchangeable.
- The Old Testament (old covenant) was a foreshadowing of the New, a foundation for what was to come.
- From the book of Genesis on, the Old Testament pointed forward to a Messiah or Savior.
- The New Testament describes the fulfillment of God’s promise by Jesus Christ.
Old Covenant: Between God and Israel
The Old Covenant was established between God and the people of Israel after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. Moses, who led the people out, served as the mediator of this contract, which was made at Mount Sinai:
Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions.” (Exodus 24:8, NLT)
Altogether, there were 613 laws, covering every aspect of human behavior. Males had to be circumcised, sabbaths had to be observed, and people had to obey hundreds of dietary, social, and hygiene rules. All these regulations were intended to protect the Israelites from their neighbors’ pagan influences, but no one could keep so many laws. To address the people’s sins, God set up a system of animal sacrifices, in which the people provided cattle, sheep, and doves to be killed. Sin required a blood sacrifice.
Under the old covenant, those sacrifices were carried out at the desert tabernacle. God installed Moses’ brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons as priests, who slaughtered the animals. Only Aaron, the high priest, could enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, to intercede for the people directly with God.
After the Israelites conquered Canaan, King Solomon built the first permanent temple in Jerusalem, where the animal sacrifices continued. Invaders eventually destroyed the temple, but when it was rebuilt, the sacrifices resumed.
The old covenant was for a specific people in a specific place and time.
The new covenant extends to the entire world:
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete;
and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13, NIV)
Abba, You have made all things new concerning our relationship with You (Revelation 21:5). We are Yours because You called us and we answered. One of these days, we each will be called to join You where You are where we await the time for us to go with You to Jerusalem for Your eternal reign on earth. Then, all things will be new in You and You will reconcile all things to Yourself (Colossians 1:20). You are awesome, Lord! I can hardly wait!!! Amen.