Changes - Covenants
We need to understand that God has made various covenants with men throughout history. Beginning with Adam and culminating with the New Covenant. There is one constant we see in all these compacts, the fact that men were never given a choice to revert to the previous arrangement. Each succeeding covenant superseded the previous covenant. Although there were similarities between the covenants they had different provisions and had differing promises. We associate Noah’s covenant with the rainbow and with the promise of not destroying the world again by water. I would like to bring attention to another distinct difference between Noah’s and Adam’s covenants with God. Adam and those that followed until the time after the flood, were never given the right to eat animals (of any kind). When God gave dominion to man over all animals He clearly made the point to man that his dominion did not extend to eating them. The very next instruction following the declaration of man’s dominion over all animals, fowl and fishes, was God giving man specific instruction regarding his diet:
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
So, even the animals as well as man were only given “every herb bearing seed” and every “tree yielding seed”. Why would God explain in detail the diet they were to follow but somehow fail to mention that they were permitted to eat one another, if indeed that were the case? If God intended man to eat the animals this would have been made perfectly clear as this was the beginning of the instructions given to man after his creation. And the Lord stated it again to establish this precept that they were to limit their diet and it did not include flesh:
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Therefore, there was no need to make distinction between clean and “not” clean meats for “food” because men were not given that option. HRM teaches that all men from Adam on knew the kosher laws; understanding which animals were clean and could be eaten. But we see that men were not permitted to eat any of the animals, clean or “not” clean. But after the flood, one of the provisions of Noah’s covenant was that they would now be permitted to eat “flesh”:
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Here is the first mention of men being permitted to eat flesh; and along with this provision was added the command to not eat the blood. There was no need to admonish men not to eat blood prior to this because they would not have eaten animals at all much less their blood. Noah was instructed to bring into the ark clean and “not” clean animals. Because men did not eat flesh before Genesis 9, it is plausible that the distinction between clean and “not” clean animals entering into the ark was made for the proper use of “clean” animals for sacrifices unto God. We can see that Noah did understand this precept:
20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
It is not until the giving of the Law at Sinai that we see the distinction made in clean and unclean animals in regards to dietary laws. And there should be no confusion with regard to this principle because Moses alone was the author of the historical account of the Pentateuch. The chapter of Leviticus 11 is devoted to explaining exactly what constituted clean and unclean and what could and could not be eaten:
46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.
Before Sinai there is no passage in scripture that denotes exactly what defines clean and unclean in regards to eating. HRM teaches that men knew from the beginning of creation the distinction. Yet, we know that the Law of Moses that defines for the first time the distinction was not given until 430 years after the covenant was made with Abraham:
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Shall we go with the teaching of HRM declaring that men knew all of these dietary laws from the beginning of creation or shall we adhere to what is “written”, which declares that it was at Sinai by Moses that the first declaration of such dietary laws was made?
Bear in mind my main point of emphasis in all this is to show that there were differences in the covenants and that every succeeding covenant takes precedence over the previous. So, we can see that Abraham is not given a choice between obeying the covenant made with Noah (which did not require circumcision) or the new covenant that God was making with Abraham (which did require circumcision):
9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Circumcision was carried forth from the covenant with Abraham into the covenant made at Sinai (Exodus 12:43-49, Leviticus 12:3, John 7:22-23). Nevertheless, there are distinct differences in these two covenants. Before Sinai, men could build an altar and offer up burnt sacrifices wherever they desired and it was accepted of God (Genesis 8:20, 12:7-8, 13:8, 31:54, 33:18-20, 46:1); although, there are places where the Lord directed men to build an altar in a specific place (Genesis22:7, 35:1-7). But in the covenant at Sinai, Moses was instructed that sacrifices had to be offered upon the altar that was to be at the door of the tabernacle and that only Aaron and his sons could perform the priestly duty of sacrifice. The points and scriptures confirming these precepts are listed in the previous sections showing the changes in the “Priesthood” and “Jerusalem the Place of Worship”. Moses and the children of Israel were not given the option of sacrificing wherever they pleased by whomever they pleased. We see the covenant at Sinai superseded the instructions given in the previous covenants regarding these precepts because the penalty for failing to sacrifice at the door of the tabernacle and by the ministry of Aaron and his sons only, was death. Quite an exclamation mark, death!!! I will not cover “all” the differences in the various covenants but having established this fact, that each succeeding covenant supersedes the previous ones, let’s look at this portion of scripture:
31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Here Jeremiah makes it perfectly clear that “the days come” (meaning sometime in the future beyond Jeremiah’s time) the Lord would make a “new” covenant with Israel and Judah. And notice that it is “not according to the covenant” that was made with the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt; which is the covenant made at Sinai. Again, this “new” covenant would not be the same as the covenant made at Sinai. This is a very important point because HRM stresses that this “new” covenant is a “renewing” of the covenant made at Sinai. But how can that be if the Lord stated plainly that He would be making a new covenant “not according to the covenant” He made with the fathers when He brought them forth out of Egypt (which covenant could only be the covenant a Sinai). Therefore, it cannot be a “renewing” of that covenant at Sinai. And since every new covenant supersedes the previous covenant, we must adhere to the precepts of the “newest” revealed covenant. Andrew Marvel has a paper that conclusively proves that the words “new” and “renewed” that are used “interchangeably” by the HRM cannot be used in that way because it violates the grammatical rules of Hebrew. Let’s look at some other scriptures that further establish this point:
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Notice that Christ is the mediator of “a better covenant”, “established upon better promises”. The fact that a comparison is being made between the two covenants with their promises showing that one is “better”, definitively proves that the two are not the same covenants. Therefore, how can it be a “renewing of the “first”? And the fact that the “new” covenant and its promises are “better” clearly ascribes superiority to the “new” or “second” over the “first”. Why should anyone desire to “renew” the “first” (Sinai) when the “second” or “new” covenant is “better”?
A primary fault found in the first is clearly the fact that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4). Therefore, the conscience of believers can never be cleansed under the “first” covenant (we covered this precept in the previous paper titled Changes – Blood Sacrifices). This is one of the reasons why this is “written”, “finding fault with them”. But the New Covenant does provide for the cleaning of sins and the cleansing of our conscience through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Consequently the New Covenant supersedes and is superior to the Old:
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Having established that covenants differ from one another and that each succeeding covenant supersedes the previous covenant I have taken the time to bring all this out to help us better understand another precept. Covenants and the law that defines them are inseparable. I want to make this point because there are some in HRM, teaching that the Law (of Moses) is separate from the covenant made at Sinai; the point being made by HRM is that covenants change but the Law remains constant. So, let’s look at what is “written”;
7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
1 These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.
9 Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.
Let us determine that what is “written” is the Word of the Lord and not what man opines about the Word of God. Exodus 34:27-28 (what is “written”) clearly states that the covenant the Lord made with the children of Israel is the Ten Commandments. There is no ambiguity here, the covenant = the Ten Commandments/ Law of Moses. To change the covenant is to change the words of the covenant; otherwise there would be no change in the covenants. So, let’s understand that when Jeremiah 31:31-34 stated that there was to be a “new” covenant “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt”, it meant that the “words” of the covenant would change. And this “change” is epitomized in the declaration made by Jesus Christ on the Sermon of the Mount when He stated “ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time” (the words of the covenant at Sinai) juxtaposed with “But I say unto you” (the words of the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34). How can all these changes we have read about in previous papers under the title of Changes, not qualify as “one jot or one tittle” passing from the Law?
The point is that Jesus Christ has come and fulfilled all the Law and this is why more (much more) than “a jot or a tittle” has been changed and passed from the Law. And Jesus Christ alone has the authority to make the changes in the Law. The next paper in this series titled “The Final Lawgiver” will explain why Jesus is able to change the Law.