“We’re under the New Covenant –not the Old.” That’s what we say in our own defense when we’re questioned about the things we Christians do. But what does that imply?
Most say that when the Jews followed the rules of the Old Covenant they were pleasing to God. And they say the same is true for the us –trying to follow the rules of the New Covenant pleases Him.
But the Old Covenant was an agreement that established them as priests (ambassadors) for God to the world to preach Christ through a set of dramas, or pictures. The New Covenant also establishes ambassadors to preach Christ. But we don’t use pictures. We tell the world about the One who the pictures were about.
We Christians hold up the Ten Commandments as a banner to show everyone that we are God’s people –yet, we don’t understand their purpose.
God made an agreement with the Israelites. They would be a kingdom of priests to the world –demonstrating the gospel through a set of symbolic dramas: annual feasts, rules for living, a tabernacle, and a priesthood that officiated over a sacrificial system. That agreement (the Old Covenant) was founded on their promise at Mount Sinai to fully obey the Ten Commandments.
Through those commandments, Israel was to show God’s greatness to the nations around them by what He required –perfection, holiness, righteousness –attributes that have never been achievable by man. Israel’s relationship with God was to be publicly expressed through humility and total reliance upon His grace and mercy.
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)
Here are some of the encounters that Jesus had with religious men –where He confronted them for their blatant disregard for the commandments they touted to have kept.
On one occasion, Jesus was talking to some Pharisees and scribes and He brought up the commandment about honoring parents. He denounced them for observing their traditions while ignoring their parents, the law and God ().
A Pharisee invited Jesus to have lunch. He sat down to eat but didn’t follow their tradition of ceremonially washing. It was intentional –to show that cleanliness (symbolizing righteousness) can’t be achieved by by keeping the law. He said they washed themselves on the outside but inside they were filthy. He used the law of tithing to prove His point. They gave herbs but withheld justice, mercy and faithfulness –things that the law also required (and ).
In that same Matthew chapter, Jesus predicted His crucifixion. He reminded the Pharisees of times past when God sent prophets and wise men –and now, His Son– to get the people back on track as that kingdom of priests to the world. They murdered those messengers and they were about to do the same to Him ().
One Sabbath His disciples were hungry so they picked some grains of wheat to eat. The Pharisees accused Him of not following the law. He told them that He, “the Son of Man, is Lord of the Sabbath.” That law describes Him ( ).
On another Sabbath He healed the man with a withered hand. He showed the chasm separating them from Him. They claimed to keep the law, but refused to help a man (). Those religious men forgot that the law actually says that the sabbath wasn’t to inhibit men; rather it was to aid them ( ).
Since the time of Moses, the only one to show that He was truly qualified to be a priest of the gospel to the whole world was Jesus. Those commandments described Him and His life. His Father said “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.” And they proved that no one else has ever been His equal.
Jesus explained to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus how the law and the prophets were about Him. Most think that short passage means that He explained the prophecies –like those in Isaiah 53. But the fact is, every bit of the Old Testament describes Him.
The Levitical Law specifies the way that the priests served their high priest –who annually carried blood into the holy of holies as a payment for sin. It also describes how we are to minister to the rest of the world as ambassadors for Christ –our Great High Priest who carried His own blood into heaven and presented it to His Father as the final payment. (Ref. Roles in Ministry.)
Their laws about the tabernacle dictate its materials, construction, contents, layout and transportation. Every detail tells about Jesus, the true Tabernacle. (Ref. Tabernacle.)
There’s the law for ceremonially cleansing a leper –which describes Jesus’ death on the cross, the full payment for sin, His resurrection, the new life we have, and being led by the Holy Spirit while living in this world but not of it. (Ref. Leprosy.)
The very first book of the Bible begins with an account of mankind’s separation from God –being in darkness, without meaning and purpose. Then entered the Light of the World –the first day. The next day is about another separation –waters above and below. It’s about His death. The third day is when He emerged from the depths of death –and new life began. (Ref. Creation Story.)
That famous strong-man Samson, whose life is chronicled in the book of Judges, contains veiled stories of Jesus’ birth; His purpose of providing salvation for everyone; the three temptations and the battle He fought with Satan; His love for His bride; His life, crucifixion and resurrection; and the new priesthood. (Ref. Samson.)
Let’s not leave out the account of the first couple. The illustration of Adam and Eve tells about Jesus’ desire for a companion, what He gave up to gain us as His bride, our plight here on earth and what He has done to give us life. (Ref. Adam and Eve.)
These are just some examples of how the entire Bible is about Him. Jesus was eating with the disciples after His resurrection … “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” (from ).