I have been away for a while on a mission trip so I have not been teaching my Monday night study on the topic of Covenant. My awesome wife stepped in for me and did a great job. I am back now and this coming Monday, I am going to teach lesson 8 from our study on Covenant. I would love to share some insights with you here in this article. By way of review, here are some of our previous lessons:
- Covenant Lesson 1
- Covenant Lesson 2
- Covenant Lesson 3
- Covenant Lesson 4
- Covenant Lesson 5
- Covenant Lesson 6
I will write on lesson 7 in another article to keep the flow of lessons going. This lesson, lesson 8, we are going to discover how Jesus Christ is the center of the three major Covenants in the Bible; the Abrahamic, the Old, and the New Covenant.
I. The Abrahamic Covenant
In order to understand the Abrahamic covenant, we need to study a few passages of Scripture that clarify what we have in this amazing Covenant. Our passages are Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, 22. In Genesis 12, God comes to Abram and begins to communicate with him. The promises are general and the relationship involves God coming and going. There is not constant communication and His presence is not constantly there. Abram has to honor and respect God by obeying Him. In this passage, we see that God has a plan to bless the Gentiles with the Gospel. Abram is a Gentile and the whole world (at that time) was composed of Gentiles. In the promises to Abram, all the Gentiles would be blessed. This is a picture of God’s plan of salvation for the world. In Genesis 13, after Lot has taken advantage of Abram, God comes to Abram once again and communicates with him. God’s promises are more specific at this time. God comforts Abram in his time of need. Again, we see God coming to Abram in Genesis 15. We see that God has a relationship with Abram but, God’s presence is not constant with Abram. God comes and goes. He intervenes when necessary. He communicates progressively. In Genesis 15, God reveals more of the promises to Abram. In essence, He is giving Abram more details. Even though God is not constantly communicating with Abram, He sees what is going on and He cares. In Genesis 17, God comes to Abram once again. This time, He reveals more of His plan to Abram. He changes Abram’s name, which indicates that He changes Abram’s character. In Genesis 15, God reveals Himself to Abram as Adonai, which means Lord, Master, Supreme Ruler. Abram bows his knee to God as Lord or Master. In Genesis 17, God reveals Himself to Abram as El Shaddai, the Savior or Rescuer. God rescues Abram from his sin nature by putting His own Nature in Abram, changing him to Abraham. The Gospel and manifestation of the Gospel is laid out in the Abrahamic Covenant. Christ is the Promised One, as Galatians 3 teaches us. Abram hears the message of the Savior, coming from the Master. He bows his knee to the Master. He now has the desire to obey God but, he is not able to obey because of his sin nature. We see that in Genesis 16. In Genesis 17, Abram experiences God as Savior, still believing the Word of God, the promises of God, looking forward to the coming Messiah. God changes Abraham. Abraham now has the character of God and the ability to obey. In Genesis 22, Abraham has another opportunity to obey. He passes the test this time. This is a precursor for what Christ does. We believe in Him, which implies bowing down to Him as Lord, Master, accepting Him as Savior and allowing Him to transform us from the inside out, what Christ calls being born again. So, the Abrahamic Covenant is a foreshadow to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s examine how Christ is the center of the Old Covenant.
II. The Old Covenant
Under the Old Covenant, we see a shift in God’s relationship to His people. With Abraham, God came and went, came and went. His presence was not constant. He communicated with Abraham exactly when Abraham needed Him. Under the Old Covenant, God’s presence dwelt among His people. In order for this to happen, there had to be a mediator between man and God. The chosen one to be that mediator was Moses. Moses is a foreshadow of Jesus Christ, the ultimate Mediator between God and man. God dwelt in the tabernacle as He lived among His people. A shift has taken place. God’s presence no longer comes and goes. God’s presence now dwells among the people constantly. The people cannot approach God’s presence because of their sin nature. They had to be kept separated from God for their own good. If they were to enter the Holy presence of God, because of their sin nature, they would immediately perish. In order to get to the presence of God, the High Priest had to walk through the entire tabernacle piece by piece in order to get to the Holy of holies. If he did not do things God’s way, he would die. Let’s examine each piece of the tabernacle to see how they all point to Christ, the focus of the Old Covenant.
- the door – it faces East and is the only entrance into the tabernacle / John 10:9 – Jesus is the door. No one can begin walking into the presence of God unless first coming to Christ
- the bronze altar – upon entrance, an animal was sacrificed for sin / John 1:29 – Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
- the bronze laver – once the sacrifice was offered, the next step was to wash in the water contained in the bronze laver / Ephesians 5:25-26 and John 15:3 – Jesus washes us with the water of His Word
- the golden lampstand – upon entering the holy place, the only source of light comes from the candles in the lampstand / John 8:12 – Jesus is the Light of the world
- the table of showbread – the only source of food in the tabernacle was the bread on this table / John 6:35 – Jesus is the bread of life and we must enter into covenant with Him to have life
- the altar of incense – after passing the table of showbread, we encounter the altar of incense where a soothing aroma filled the tabernacle / Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with prayers
- the veil – on our journey to the presence of God, we encounter the veil that separates God’s holiness from sinful people. The veil is for the people’s protection / Hebrews 10:19-20 – Jesus is the veil, torn in half inviting us to enter into covenant in order to enter the presence of God
- the ark of the covenant – this is the presence of God / John 14:6 – the only way to enter into the presence of God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except THROUGH Him.
Christ is the focal point of the tabernacle. The only way to enter into the presence of God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the Mediator between man and God. What about the New Covenant, what makes it different from the Old and Abrahamic?
III. The New Covenant
Under the New Covenant, the presence of God indwells us. We become God’s Holy Temple. God’s presence is always with us like in the Old Covenant. God communicates with us directly, like under the Abrahamic Covenant. The difference is that this communication is now constant. His presence will never leave us. In order to enter the presence of God and have the presence of God enter into us, we must make a covenant with God. We must be in the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ. Just like Abraham, entering into the New Covenant means bowing your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord/Master of your life. Receive Him as your Savior (One who rescues you from your sin nature). He will cause you to be born again. He places His Holy Spirit in you, giving you His character so that you, like Abraham, know what the right thing to do is and you are able to do it because of the new character that you have. You die to your selfish, independent way of living and choose to live moment by moment, day by day for your Covenant Partner. We are now able to glorify God in our bodies, the exact reason why God created us in the first place. We were created to be the image and glory of God. Because of our sin nature, we are not able to reflect who God is accurately. When we enter into the New Covenant, our character is restored and we are able to glorify God for the rest of our days. Has this happened to you? Have you entered into the New Covenant? Has your character been totally transformed? Have you received God’s character? Are you in constant communication with God? Do you give a correct opinion of who God is by your attitude, words, and actions? Do you chose to live for your Covenant Partner, moment by moment, day by day? May the Lord help us enter the New Covenant, live in light of the New Covenant, and take the New Covenant to the people around you!