Hebrew Roots/The Law/New Covenant
THE LAW AND THE COVENANT[edit | edit source]
The purpose of the Law is to instruct us in God's righteousness which was manifest in the life of Yeshua the Messiah and as part of that instruction, to provide us with principles of conduct (doctrine), and reproof and correction of ungodly behaviour (2 Timothy 3:16).
Just as the scripture tells us to train up our natural children in the way they should go, so we as spiritual children need to be instructed and trained in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 22:6; 1 Peter 1:23, 2:1-3). However, we are under a different covenant with a different priesthood and so there is a change in the application of the Law. The Law of God has not changed, it is eternal, but our relationship to it has changed. So we need to consider how these changes in the covenant and the priesthood affect the application of the Law.
THE NEW COVENANT[edit | edit source]
When the scripture prophesied about a new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-33, the word used is renewed (chadashah), not new as in newly created or 'new', as to its age. The word chadashah refers to something that has undergone a reformation in character and purpose, or a simple reappearance on a different scale. In the new covenant scriptures, the Greek word is kainos, and means "new as to form or quality, of a different nature from what is contrasted as old" (Vine's Expository Dictionary). It does not mean "new in age" (neos).
So it was not prophesied to be a different covenant, but a new improved form of the previous covenant which had already been upgraded several times to allow for changes in the nation's responsibilities. In ancient treaties, if one of the party's situation changed, then part of the covenant could be amended (or renewed) as required, to adapt to the new situation, but everything else remained in effect exactly as before.
The New covenant is a compilation of all the former covenants made with Abraham, Moses, and David which were encompassed by and fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah. He fulfilled them in Himself, thus making a 'new' covenant of the former ones in an "improved" form, for the benefit of the participants in the covenant. The terms of the previous covenant was obedience to His Law which at that time was written on tablets of stone made personal by the means of the fringes on their garments (Numbers 15:38-39). Now, the terms of the covenant are the same, except that the law is written on human hearts. It has been internalised by an impartation of His Spirit, making it a "better" covenant (Deuteronomy 4:13; John 15:9-14; 2 Corinthians 3:3).
Just after enacting the new covenant with His disciples in the Last Supper, Yeshua stated the terms of the covenant. It was to be based upon them obeying His commandments and the promise on His part was that He would send the holy Spirit from the Father to dwell in them (John 14:15-18). The 'new', improved covenant was in them having His Spirit within them and His Presence with them to personally guide, instruct and empower them to keep the Law (John 14:18, 20, 25-26; 15:26-27).
The covenant was also an upgrade from servant-hood in the old, to being "friends" in the new as partakers in the advent of His coming kingdom and glory. But it was all based upon obedience to His commandments, just as it was in the previous, original issue of the covenant.
A covenant always has terms and promises which each party commit themselves to fulfill. Notice how many times Yeshua stressed the point of obedience to the commandments - in John 14:15, 21, 23, 24; 15;10, 14)
"If you love me, keep My commandments"
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me"
"If anyone love Me, he will keep My word"
"If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love"
"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you"
And the covenant was sealed with His prayer in Chapter 17 of John, that they would be united in one Body with the godhead and be partakers of His glory.
THE NEW EXPECTATION[edit | edit source]
God's laws, His principles for man to live by, are eternal and unchanging but the measure of responsibility in His covenant that He gives to man, can vary upon his spiritual growth and maturity. Because the Law is now internalised in man's heart by faith, there is a higher expectation upon those in covenant relationship with Him, to love with the same type of love with which He loved. Previously, it was to love one's neighbour as oneself. Now it is to love as He loved us - a self-sacrificial type of love. This was the new commandment given for the new covenant, not displacing the other commandments, as Yeshua still referred to the Father's commandments which He had kept as those which He had embraced and now imparted to them (John 15:9-10).
Because of the better promises of receiving the divine nature, there is an expectation and responsibility upon the new covenant believer to manifest the more elevated quality of the divine nature in their life (2 Peter 1:1-7)
The bond of the covenant is a love relationship and it is out of this love relationship that we are to obey Him. Israel was brought into the bond of the covenant at Sinai which was in the form of a betrothal contract, the terms of the covenant being the keeping of His Law out of their love for Him (Deuteronomy 6:6; 30:11-14).
Because of the weakness of the Law by itself to enable fallen man to keep the commandments, they broke the covenant many times (Jeremiah 31:32). The Law had no power to change the heart of man because it was a "fleshly commandment" whereas the new covenant imparted the power of His eternal life, as quoted, "the power of an endless life", to enable us to walk in or within the Law (Hebrews7:16).
"For on one hand there is an annulling (to put of no value, to set aside - Vines) of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." Hebrews 7:18-19
The previous covenant was ineffective or 'weak' - i.e. it was powerless because it "made nothing perfect' in the condition of fallen humanity. It gave the outline of Yahweh God's requirements without the power to perform it.
We have two different terms used here - 'commandment' and 'law', differentiating the commandment to obey, from the whole context of the Law of Yahweh God, which is eternal and unchanging. Now, in the new covenant, the commandment to obey is empowered by a changed heart fulfilling the prophecy of the new covenant, "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10b)
The new covenant believer is no longer "under the law" in servitude to the Law, but is enabled to live "in the law" through His life. The Law, in its written form in the old covenant could not give life and therefore did not effect righteousness (internally) in those who kept the law (externally). "For if there had been a law which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Law." (Galatians 3:21)
The living embodiment of the Law, Yeshua the Messiah, now indwells the believer so that if he abides in the relationship which he has with the Redeemer and walks in the Spirit of the Messiah who indwells him, he will fulfill the 'works' of the law, the outward acts of righteousness in the liberty of the Spirit. "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Galatians 5:18)
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Yeshua the Messiah has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The life of the living "Law", of the Messiah has released us from the penalties of the broken Law (Romans 8:2). Therefore, when we live in His Law, we are living in His love, in union with the Father and the Son.
"As the Father love Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." John 15:9-10
This is the benefit of the "better" covenant, based upon "better" promises (Hebrews 7:19, 22; 8:6).