Hebrew Roots/Nature of the Law/Covenants/Introduction
In view of the fact that we have not yet arrived at the goal and won the prize, and His purposes are still in the process of being worked out in His people, we still "see through a glass darkly" and the image of what we shall be is not yet clear, but we know that "when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for (then) we shall see Him as He is" and be transformed into His likeness. (1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3: 1-3)
The covenants of God, give expression to the eternal purpose of Yahweh God to have His Presence manifested in and through the object of His affection, the 'man' which He created, and to elevate him to the status of god-likeness and immortality.
The covenants give a framework of the overall plan whereby He took Adam from an inexperienced, immature being who knew neither good nor evil (in that he was innocent and ignorant of the value of these qualities), toward the ultimate destiny which He has purposed for the race of mankind.
In the process of revealing His purposes to man, He also correspondingly has revealed His own nature and likeness to man. At first, man only knew Him as Elohim, the Creator of all things (Gen. Ch.1); and then we see that He revealed Himself to Abram as El Shaddai, the Almighty One (Gen.17: 1); and then to Moses as Yahweh (Ex.3: 1, 5-6, 14-16), the Covenant-keeping God who meets all the needs of all those in covenant relationship with Him. Although His Name was known beforehand (Gen.4:26), it was only with Moses that the understanding of walking in covenant relationship with Him became man's experience.
Thereafter, through many revelations of the various aspects of Himself as Healer, Guide, Deliverer etc., He finally gave a full revelation of Himself in human form as Y'shua (Jesus), our Messiah, the exact image and likeness of the invisible, imperceptible Spirit of the Eternal. (John 6:46, 14: 8-10)
The prevailing concept of God's covenants in Christendom is that of a division into two main categories of "Old" and "New" covenants. The "Old" covenant being that which was made with the Hebraic people, now called 'Jews', and the "New" Covenant being that which Y'shua (Jesus) instituted as a result of His death and resurrection, which is understood to replace the "Old" Covenant.
However, this understanding is based on the limited perspective of Church traditions inherited from Hellenistic and Roman influences which infiltrated the Church after the apostolic era came to a close.
The fact is that the death of Y'shua as the sacrificial Lamb of God, ratified all the previous covenants, as they were all dependent upon that sacrifice which He had determined to make before time began, to become valid. They were all based upon the fact that He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
What the new covenant did was to bring the "Old" covenants made with God's people to their full capacity for realisation and to the full spiritual manifestation, of what was originally purposed.
Yahweh called the nation to be a "kingdom of priests" unto Himself (Exodus 19:5) and Peter reiterates this when speaking to the descendants of the Hebrew people who had accepted Y'shua as their Messiah and were dispersed through the other nations at that time (1 Peter 1: 1-2). He said to them, "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices .. "
- - the emphasis is on it being a spiritual function now.
"you are a chosen generation (race [Youngs Concordance] i.e. Jews/Hebrews), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people," 1 Peter 2: 5, 9. He is reminding them of their heritage and calling.
The covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai was a proposition, a setting forth of a betrothal to enter into a marriage covenant with the One who came in the Father's name to them, the "Memra", the Word of God.
In Middle-eastern Hebraic culture, a marriage is contracted upon a covenant agreement with stipulated terms based upon promises the groom pledges himself to keep and obligations the woman is to meet. If the woman accepts what he has to offer, she drinks the cup of the covenant and he gives gifts to her to seal their betrothal. He then will go away and prepare a 'place' for her in his father's house where they will later consummate the marriage. The Bride-to-be will not see her intended husband until he arrives to take her to himself (usually a year later), but during this time they are regarded as married and if the woman is unfaithful, a divorce will be undertaken by the 'husband'. When Israel was at Mt.Sinai, she entered into such a marriage covenant (a marriage betrothal) which was binding upon her, and therefore Yahweh speaks of her as His wife.
Israel was not really a faithful 'wife' and many times He called her back to Himself and she repented and returned to the marriage agreement. For all her unfaithfulness, He never divorced her, which if He had, would have annulled the marriage covenant.
Some time after the nation had divided into two kingdoms, He did divorce the northern 10-tribed kingdom (the House of Ephraim) for their continued unfaithfulness, but the House of Judah, as it was known, was not divorced. So when Y'shua came to seal the union by the impartation of the Holy Spirit, the House of Judah (the Jews) who were betrothed to Him, responded to the Bridegroom's call.
By Y'shua's death, the northern 10-tribed House of Ephraim (the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew10: 6; 15:24), were also re-instated, by invitation, to respond to the Bridal covenant once again and be grafted back into the Vine. Romans 11:16-18
So, rather than the "New Covenant" replacing the "Old Covenant", the covenant which Y'shua made with Israel at that time and to whoever would be grafted back in to the nation, was part of the fulfillment of His marriage covenant promise to them at Sinai.
By revelation, Moses had instructed the nation "Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like unto me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, .. .. " Deuteronomy 18:15
For this the nation was waiting, as they understood that it was this prophet who would once again speak directly to them from Yahweh God, as Moses had done, and fulfill their messianic expectations.
The priests and the Levites knew the prophetic time was close to being fulfilled for the appearance of the Messiah and that is why they asked when they came to John, "Are you the Prophet?" (John 1:21).
In other words, "Are you the One we are to expect, or do we look for another?"
He was the hope of Israel, the One who would baptise them with the holy Spirit of God (Ruach HaKodesh) and bring to birth the kingdom in their midst. John 1:32-34
The covenants belong to the "Jew" (Romans 9: 4-5) - i.e. to the Israel of God. Even Paul always said, "to the Jew first and then to the Gentile/Greek" (nations) Romans 1:16. Paul always went first to the Jew.
To be a partaker of the Bridal/Priesthood covenant blessings, one must become grafted in to the olive tree, which is Israel, His Bride, and in that covenant meet the conditions of the marriage contract by the power of His Spirit, through the redemption in Y'shua, the Messiah. However, provision has been made for salvation from eternal judgment for all who believe, apart from those called to be part of Israel. Mark 16:15-16