"Covenant" means promise or agreement. God's covenant is His promise and plan to save us. It is His "plan of salvation."
The Bible speaks of two covenants-the old one, made at Sinai, and the new one, established and finished at the cross. Let us compare the two.
- From where does Jesus carry on His new-covenant ministry for us?
Heb. 8:1, 2 [Ans. At the right hand of God in the heavenly sanctuary. The Further-study verses are Rev. 1:13; 4:5; 8:3, 4; 11:19.]
- Where were the old-covenant services performed?
Heb. 9:15 [Ans: In the earthly sanctuary. Ex. 25-27; 16:33, 34; Num. 17:10; Ex. 25:8, 9, 40]
- What did Paul call the old-covenant sanctuary, with its earthly services?
Heb. 9:24 [Ans: “Copies” of the true. Note: The old covenant is a picture of the new covenant. It is the plan of salvation illustrated. In some respects it is like a picture of a man’s wife. The man may show it to you and say, “This is my wife.” But is it really? No, it is only a picture! He may treasure the picture, but it cannot replace his wife. The Jewish nation hung on to the old-covenant “picture” but rejected the One to whom it pointed forward-Jesus and His ministry. We could also illustrate it with a blueprint of a house which is made before the house is built. Heb. 8:35]
- When God illustrated His plan of salvation at Sinai, what covenant did the people make with Him?
Ex. 19:8 [Note: When God gave the old covenant at Sinai, the people promised to keep it, and they intended to, but they could not do so in their own strength (Rom. 8:3). They should have asked God for help; then the Savior, to whom the old covenant pointed forward, would have come into their hearts and delivered them from the power of sin. Matt. 1:21; John 8:34-36; Ex. 25:8]
- What was the purpose of the laws of the earthly sanctuary?
Gal. 3:24 [John 5:46, 47; Heb. 10:1]
- Everything in the old covenant-its people, its law, its sanctuary and services, its capital city, etc.-represented (or pictured) something in the new covenant established at the cross. Who did the HIGH PRIEST represent?
Heb. 4:14-16 [1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:17; 3:1]
- Who did the TEMPLE of the old covenant, the literal children of Abraham, represent?
Gal. 3:9, 29 [Rom. 2:28, 29; Gen. 17: 17; Eze. 34:30; Matt. 3:9; John 8:37, 44]
- What new-covenant capital city corresponds to the old-covenant CAPITAL?
Gal. 4:24-26 [Note: Some people still look to old-covenant Jerusalem for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Like the Pharisees, they are clinging to the old-covenant “picture”; but that covenant was nailed to the cross. The old covenant was like Hagar. Hagar was intended to be the midwife to deliver the child of promise, but she was never intended to be the mother of that child. Thus the old covenant was perfect for leading God’s people to Christ and to the New Jerusalem, but it was never intended to take its place. John 8:34-36; Heb. 10:4; 11:8-10]
- How did the old covenant SACRIFICES take away sins?
Heb. 10:4, 5 [Ans: They didn’t. Those who trusted in these sacrifices alone, were lost. The sacrificial system was designed to develop and show one’s faith in the coming Messiah. Acts 4:12]
- Who did the LAMB represent?
John 1:29 [1 Cor. 5:7]
- In the old covenant, what was one purpose of the ten-commandment LAW written on stone?
Rom. 7:7-10 [James 1:23, 24; 2:10-12; Ex. 24:12; Deut. 4:13]
- Besides providing forgiveness for breaking God's law, why else did Jesus come to earth?
Rom. 8:3, 4 [Ans: To give us power to keep God’s law. 1 John 3:4-6]
- God's law was written on STONE in the old-covenant "picture." Where is it written in the new covenant?
Heb. 10:16 [Eze. 11:19, 20; 2 Cor. 3:7-10, 18; 1 John 2:35]
Some have wondered why, when the Ten Commandments were included in the old covenant, the New Testament says, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may . . . enter . . . the [New Jerusalem] city" (Rev. 22:14, NKJV). But the old covenant merely foreshadowed the new. In the new covenant the commandments are to be written on our hearts.
Do you want Jesus to perform this new-covenant ministry in your life?