Maybe I’ll start with an amazing fact. I think we all know the Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the ancient world. It’s a wonder of the world today. It was thought at one time it was 1500 miles long. They now know with satellite imaging that that wall actually was 3800 miles when you include the different branches that went off it. It’s incredible because it’s about 30 feet wide at the base and averages 26 feet high. Can you imagine building something 3800 miles long? The idea was to keep out the invading nomads, and that’s why they did it. But in spite of all that trouble and all that work they did, Genghis Khan in 1213 still breached the wall and took over China.
The good news is there’s another wall that’s been coming down in China lately, and that’s a wall that’s been preventing the free proclamation of the gospel. Maybe I’ll show you another picture, and you’ll be surprised by this one. Here are some amazing facts about China. It’s the third largest land mass in the world (I think first is Russia, then Canada, and then China); the second largest economy, and it’s poised at some point to take overtake the US in that; first large military in man-power (the US has the largest military when it comes to spending, by far, but they have the largest man military); first largest population, 1.36 billion people, and that is a conservative estimate. That means approximately 20 percent of the people in the world are Chinese. When you go there, and you see the building going on, and you see all the people in the streets, it is mind boggling.
Let’s see if you recognize these two people. It’s Karen and I, and I want you to notice my bags and then her bags, on the left. Actually, we were going into Russia. This was 22 years ago. We went to Russia right after the Iron Curtain fell and Communism dropped its barriers to Christianity, and we went and we did six weeks there. The reason I mention that is because we learned during that meeting our church was not ready for the opportunities to freely preach in the massive country of Russia. So that always stuck in my mind, so when I joined Amazing Facts, I said, “Something we need to do is we need to be ready for the day, when it comes, when the walls in China go down and we can preach. We need to have materials, a lot of stuff translated, and websites.” So with your help, in the last nine years we’ve developed a lot of web material.
As a matter of fact, in 2005 I went to China with Karen, and we brought some of our first product, which was the Final Events, and that was dubbed in Chinese, where I’m actually speaking Chinese, not just the subtitles, and we took 20 copies. That was multiplied and went all over the country. I was there recently, and I said to someone, “Here, let’s give them one of these Final Events,” and he said, “No. Everybody here has seen that,” and he meant every Christian from every denomination has seen that. “Give them something else,” he said. So it was wonderful how that got around the country.
This is a website that has been around for some time. That’s Amazing Facts in Chinese. It has scores of videos and evangelistic programs. This has been going on for nine years because of the faithful dedication of a lot of people.
So we got an invitation in December to plan on doing a meeting. We didn’t know till the last minute it was going to happen because we needed some final permission. Frequently with China, you get there, and then they cancel at the last minute. So here we are meeting with Chinese government officials, and they approved our meeting, which we were thankful for, because we had all the permits and visas, and then we got there and we thought they could still cancel on us, but they approved the meeting, and we were all ready to go, and something just extraordinary happened.
We met in the largest church in Wuxi. Wuxi is like a suburb of Shanghai. Shanghai is the biggest city in the world, 24 million people. Wuxi is about 50 miles, but you never stop seeing city when you leave Shanghai. It’s just solid city. There are six million people there. This was the largest Christian church in the city, which is largely interdenominational, and they invited us to come and preach our message. So we did 15 presentations. We did about half of it here. We wondered if anyone would come because there is still some persecution in China, and they kept coming, and not only did this building fill up, but there were two overflow rooms with screens that filled up. Rough estimates, there were 2000+ the opening night. Here they are gathered outside the windows and the doors because they ran out of room inside, and they sat there faithfully, and this is in the middle of the day, 10:00, on a Thursday is when we started. The hunger for the Word of God is unlike anything I’ve seen, and they were so open, and we just praise the Lord.
Then after four days we moved into a larger facility in Wuxi, and this is a beautiful brand new church facility there. I’m giving you a quick report because we have a big lesson to cover. You know what’s so exciting about this, I don’t know if you realize, several people told us while we were there—in fact, a couple of ministers of another evangelical church came, and they were just going, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” And they said, “How did you do this?”
And we said, “The Lord did it.”
And they said, “There has been no foreigner allowed to do a full evangelistic meeting in this country since 1959.” They said, “How did you do this?”
Several people told us that, so they said, “This is just unprecedented,” and we were so excited. Not only that, we got to televise it. People came from all over.
I was shocked by the number of electric motor scooters, because when we went nine years ago, there were just a couple of electric ones, everyone was on bicycles, and everything else was motor scooters. But now everything is electric scooters, and they’re dangerous because you don’t hear them coming. You’re crossing the street, and they’re everywhere, and they’re on the sidewalk. I was walking up the streets of Shanghai, and I’m looking over my shoulder all the time because they get up on the sidewalks and you don’t hear them. But people came to the meetings by scooter, they came by plane, they walked, they came in carts.
This man took a train, the man on the left. His last name is Fung. I’ll not tell you his first name. He took a train 800 miles because he saw on our website—he said, “I was an atheist. I started studying and watching the videos on the Amazing Facts website. I accepted Christ, and I heard you were coming to China,” and he went 800 miles to come to the meetings. He stayed four days, and then he left, and he’s bringing others to Christ. That was a friend of his. So the work is just spreading.
Again, this is a short story. They had two baptisms while we were there. Now, these people that were baptized were largely prepared, of course, before we got there, because you can’t get everyone ready in 10 days for a meeting. A lot of young people, former atheists making decisions; it was just so exciting. But many of them had found things first on the Amazing Facts website, and they got the lessons, they got the DVDs, and they started to study. I think this is the first baptism, and then the next picture is the second baptism. There were 198 people baptized. I’m sharing this with you, because they say, and this was in the English Telegraph newspaper, that in 15 years China is poised to have more Christians than the United States. So Christianity is growing very quickly in this country.
And you say, “Well, what can you do? There’s one meeting with a couple thousand people in a country of 1.3 or 1.4 billion people.” But what made these meetings really exciting, we were given permission to videotape the whole series with Chinese translation all ready to go, and so now those tapes are being duplicated already, and they’re going to be spread all around the country. It’s an entire evangelistic meeting. And they will be pirated and spread, I can promise you that, all over the country. Also, all our PowerPoints, and Cheryl, who’s right there in the studio, helped develop all the PowerPoints for our meetings. They were then translated into Chinese, and now the Chinese PowerPoints are going to Bible workers around the country. These are some Bible workers I was training while I was there.
Then last Sabbath, a week ago, I was in Shanghai, biggest city in the world, and this was a nice photograph someone else took. The air is not that clear. It’s a little hard to breathe sometimes. We were meeting with Christians in Shanghai, and the interest was just phenomenal, so please pray for the people there. They sat all day long. Kids were so well behaved.
Let me tell you something funny. Not only have we translated lots of our evangelistic programs, we translated the Amazing Adventure in Mandarin. We translated the meeting for teenagers called MIQ, and I’m speaking—they have one of the best—he’s a television personality that lip syncs it and just a great professional translator, and we’re hoping he’s converted from listening to all this stuff, because he’s a professional. But my voice in Chinese is very good, but I can’t speak; all I can say is just a few little words. But the kids would come up to me, and they’d start talking to me, and I’d talk to them, and they’d look at me with disdain—“How come you don’t understand me? And your voice, what happened to your voice?” And they were so disappointed. It was kind of funny! Actually, several people, when they heard my real voice, were disappointed!
This is one of the overflows. We stayed and we went back in the afternoon and did Bible questions. They’re really studying over there. They had some very good Bible questions.
Pray for the Chinese because persecution is not over. I don’t know if you saw—this was in CNN news, but another province—our province was more tolerant of Christianity, obviously, but a month before we came, the Three Rivers Church in Wenzhou, the government maybe felt Christianity was spreading too fast, but they bulldozed the church—yes, a $4 million, brand new church, and it was an evangelical Christian church. So there are still tensions. You need to pray for China. It’s a miracle we were able to go.
I’ll close with this. One of the greatest lost opportunities in history happened after Genghis Khan. His son Kublai Khan was more friendly to religion, and he knew Marco Polo. Marco Polo and his father, Niccolò Polo, and Maffeo Polo were Venetian traders, and the Kublai Khan was interested in their religion. He said, “You go back and tell your chief priest, “Send me 100 missionaries and teachers to teach me and our people the Christian religion,” and so they did go back to Italy. They appealed to the pope personally. They said, “You have to send as many missionaries as possible to this incredibly big country of China,” and the pope—they were fighting crusades and fighting among themselves, and he said, “We just can’t do it. We don’t have them.” He said, “I’ll send you two,” and they half-heartedly went. One died along the way, and the other one turned back, and they never went. Instead, the Tibetan Buddhist missionaries came in and pretty much took over. But they say all of history would have been different. That window was lost. We have another incredible window in China, and I’m hoping that you’ll be praying for that country, because, like I said, it represents 20 percent. It’s the largest mission field in the world.
Thank you for also making these meetings possible. Continue to pray for what’s going on over there. We still have other things happening I can’t tell you.
All right, to our lesson. This lesson is very important, and it’s dealing with the subject of the covenants, “Christ … and the Covenants.” In particular, I want you to request this free study. This is perfectly joined with our lesson. It’s called Why the Old Covenant Failed, and you need to understand there’s a difference between the Ten Commandments and the old covenant. Why the Old Covenant Failed—we’ll send it to you free. Read it and share it with someone. It’s offer 716. Just dial 866-STUDY MORE (866-788-3966), and we’ll send that to you for free.
Our lesson today is lesson number 10, dealing with “Christ, the Law, and the Covenants.” We have a memory verse—I always appreciate, and you can say it with me. It’s from Hebrews 9:15. I’m going to do it from the New King James version. “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews has quite a bit to say about understanding the covenants, and we’ll read some more of that in a little bit. But maybe before we go into studying the subject of the covenants, it’s very important to understand how to define what is a covenant. A covenant is simply an agreement. It’s a contract. It’s something of more of a formal agreement, a promise. The Bible is known as the New and the Old Testaments, and what that really means, it’s identical to saying this is the New and the Old Covenants. Testament, covenant are the same thing.
You find the word covenant about 300 times in the Bible, according to my computer. The Hebrew for the word is berith; the Greek is diatheke, and it just means a legal agreement. The Ten Commandments fit into the category of being the conditions of a covenant, but they were not the old covenant, and we’ll get to that in just a minute. You have a lot of covenants in the Bible. Some of them were formal; they deal with nations. Some are more on an individual basis, where God made individual covenants with people or with families. Some of the covenants you might find is the covenant with Adam in the Garden of Eden, for instance, and it’s often called the Edenic Covenant.
Let me read this to you. Genesis 1:27 [KJV], “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion”—here God is promising them dominion—“over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Then you go to chapter 2 verse 16, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” So in the covenant that God made with Adam, or in Eden, He basically is saying, “I am giving you life, paradise, dominion, but there is a condition. You disobey, eat the forbidden tree, you will lose your dominion and you will lose your life.” And they lost both of those. The dominion was surrendered to the enemy. The devil is called the prince of this world (and that’s why there is so much misery in the world) when they violated that covenant.
Now, just to reinforce this, go ahead and read for us Hosea 6:7 [KJV]. “But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.” You see that word where it says “men,” “But they like men”? How many of you have a translation where it says, “But they like Adam”? Yes, see? That word there is Adam. “…they like [Adam] have transgressed the covenant.” So God had made a covenant with Adam.
You also find in the Bible God makes a covenant with Noah. It says, Genesis 6:18 [KJV], “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.” Now, there was a condition to that covenant. The condition was, I will save you and your family; you have to build an ark. So if Noah said, “Thank You for showing me grace and saving me,” but he didn’t build an ark, what good would that covenant of salvation have been?
So you’re going to find there are two kinds of covenants in the Bible principally. You have the unconditional covenants, where God says, “I will do something,” and He’s just going to do it and you’ll be a recipient, or He says, “I do this if you do that.” So you have the conditional covenants and the unconditional covenants, and we’ll talk about what some of the differences are in a moment.
So you have the covenant with Noah. You have a covenant with Abraham. We don’t have time to read all the covenants or we won’t get into some of the heart of the lesson. The covenant with Abraham is made firstly in Genesis 12:1-3 when He says, Come out of this land, and I will make a covenant with you and your descendents, and ultimately in your seed all the nations of the world will be blessed. Later He makes a covenant with David, the Davidic covenant, and you can read about that in 2 Samuel 7:12, 13, and that covenant basically said that through your house and through your descendents the Messiah would come.
I should say the covenant that God made with Abraham He also then repeats to Isaac and to Jacob, and Jacob on his deathbed repeats it to his sons and specifies that through Judah the Messiah would come, and then later He specifies even more that through the tribe of Judah, through the house of David, the Messiah would come, and so you can see these covenants are made.
Let’s go to the section under “Covenant Signs.” We don’t have to guess very long, but in Noah’s time, what was the covenant sign? It was a rainbow, and you can see that, Genesis 9:12, 13 [KJV], “And God said, This is the [sign, NKJV] of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be for a [sign, NKJV] of a covenant between me and the earth.” How come they had never seen the rainbow before? It had never rained before, so they never saw the refraction of the pyramids of color coming in the rainbow, because it had never rained before. So God wanted to remind them, whenever they saw that mist in the clouds and they saw that rainbow, that He would not do—. Now, does that mean it would never flood again, or He’d never destroy the earth again with a flood? There have been plenty of floods. There have been plenty of good rains. He just wanted to remind him that He wouldn’t wipe out all the earth with water again. Next time it’s a flood of what? Fire, the Bible tells us, and the ark in that day is Jesus, being in Christ.
Let’s talk about what was the sign for Abraham, of that covenant? A couple of signs. For one thing, circumcision was a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed, and the birth of Isaac was a sign. Was that a miracle? Yes, and so that was a sign that God was going to fulfil His covenant in that He miraculously had this child long after Sarai was at the bearing age.
You can read in Exodus 20. Was there a sign of the covenant God made with the children of Israel on Mount Sinai? “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.” So there were signs and wonders when God spoke His law. That was one of the signs. You can read that.
Now if you jump to the New Testament to Hebrews chapter 12, it says, “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.” He said these were the signs of God’s presence and glory there in the Old Testament, and in the new covenant it’s something different, and he gets into that in Hebrews in just a moment.
Other signs of the covenant had to do with—were the Ten Commandments a sign itself, put in the ark? Was there a Shekinah glory above the Ten Commandments?
You were going to read for me Joshua 2:18 [YLT], talking about another sign, token. “Lo, we are coming into the land, this line of scarlet thread thou dost bind to the window by which thou hast caused us to go down, and thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all the house of thy father thou dost gather unto thee, to the house.” Did the Lord make a covenant with Rahab? Yes, through the two spies, they said, “Our life for your life because you’ve done this, and here’s the agreement. If you don’t tell our business about why we were here, it will be, when we come into the land, everyone in your house, we will save. Here’s the token of the covenant. Put this red cord in your window.” And if they were in the house where the red cord was in the window, they were saved.
Was there a token of the covenant during the Passover? What was the token then? Red blood on the door. Isn’t that interesting? When they left Egypt, those in the house with the red were saved, and they were all Israelites. When they enter the Promised Land, there’s a token for Gentiles. Everyone in Rahab’s house was a Gentile. Those in the house with the red were saved. And what’s that red a symbol of? The blood of Christ. So sometimes there were tokens given that were signs of these things.
What about a sign for Jesus now, getting to the New Testament? Some of you remember in Isaiah 7:14 [KJV], “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son….” Do you remember that? That doesn’t happen every day, does it? It may be claimed from time to time, but I think some of those claims are dubious.
By the way, don’t miss the connection between the miraculous birth, the miraculous conception, of Sarah with Isaac, and Isaac is offered by the father, and that is a sign of the miraculous birth of Jesus, and Jesus is offered by the Father. So there are some other signs there.
But then you look in Luke 2:12, “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” This is what the angels told the shepherds, and you didn’t normally find a baby lying in a manger, even back in Bible times. If you found a baby lying in a horse trough in a barn, you’d probably call authorities today, right? So that was unusual.
Jumping to the New Testament now. Let’s just read this first. Turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy. I just want you to read it for yourself, and those who are watching. Deuteronomy 4:12, “And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.” God is reminding them, Don’t make an idol. You didn’t see anything. “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess.”
So there is a distinction here between the laws that God spoke and wrote and the ceremonial laws God gave Moses, that Moses spoke and wrote. Now, are the Ten Commandments the old covenant? The Ten Commandments themselves are not the part of the old covenant that as been done away with. How many of you have heard people say, “Don’t be talking about the Ten Commandments. That’s the old covenant. We’re under the new covenant now, which is just two commandments, love the Lord and love your neighbor”? Have you heard that? “Jesus gave us a new commandment, love the Lord and love your neighbor. That’s the new covenant, and the old covenant is the Ten Commandments. Now we just have two.”
When Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength,” where did He get that idea? He’s quoting Moses. He’s quoting Deuteronomy chapter 6. And when Jesus said you should love your neighbor as you love yourself, what’s He quoting? He’s quoting Moses. Is that really new? Didn’t every Jew know those two commandments? So both the wording of both the old Ten Commandments and those other laws Jesus gave, are all Old Testament. The difference was not the content, but what it is written on. It’s the promises.
Let me illustrate that to you. I’m jumping around a little bit, but I’ll get back to it. Go with me, please, to Hebrews 8:6. We just need to understand this, because you’re going to have people say, “You Adventists, you’re teaching people to keep the Sabbath. That’s the old covenant. The Ten Commandments are the old covenant.” Have you heard that? It’s not true. The problem with the old covenant was not the Ten Commandments; the problem with the old covenant was the promises of the people. Let me read it to you. Hebrews 8:6, “But now He [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant…”
Now, what is a covenant? A promise or agreement. So if you have a house and I want to buy the house, the way it would work is you and I would talk first, and we would negotiate, and I’d say, “I’ll give you $100,000,” and you say, “No, I have to have $110,000.” I say, “I want $105,000,” and you say, “OK. Agreed. All right, now that we have the verbal agreement, we’ll write it down.” Right? Then you do a contract. You get a copy; I get a copy. First it’s spoken; then it’s written. You can go through a lot of writing revisions if you do the writing first. So you speak it. Does God speak the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20? Then later He writes them down. So there was the agreement.
Let’s suppose we agree to buy the house, and we write up a contract, we both make promises that I’m going to pay you so much by a certain date, and I can’t move in until these things are done, and we have terms and stuff like that. So now we have a covenant. Right? We’ve made an agreement. Both sign it. We have a covenant, an agreement. That’s what it is, promises, mutual promises, expectations—I’ll do this, and you do this. I’ll pay you; you move out, and I move in. Is the house the covenant? The house is not the covenant. The house may be what the house is built around; the house is the promises. Right? The Ten Commandments are not the covenant. The Ten Commandments are what the covenant is built around.
Notice, “He is [the] Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” Now, in order for the new covenant to have better promises, what does it mean if you say these are better promises? Isn’t that a comparative term that means somewhere there are poorer promises? Was there anything wrong with God’s promise in the Old Testament? Does God ever do anything wrong? Where were the bad promises in the Old Testament? From God or the people? When God spoke the Ten Commandments, what did the people say? “All that the Lord has said we will do.” They made a promise. How long after they made that promise before it was broken? Their promises were not very good. It was based on the promise of what “we will do.” “All that the Lord has said we will do.” That was their promise.
You notice it says in Hebrews 8:7, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” Now, is there fault with the Ten Commandments? Paul said (Romans 7:12), “The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Nobody can find any flaw with anything that God makes. It was the promises of the people. It says, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” Here’s the key, Hebrews 8:8: “…finding fault with them….” What was the problem with the first covenant? The Ten Commandments or the people? Was it God’s promise or their promise? So what needed to be changed was not the law, because the new covenant is writing that same law in the heart. It’s the same law.
The Ten Commandments are all about love. First four commandments deal with our love for God; last six commandments deal with our love for our fellow man. That must be written in the heart. When we love God, we will keep the first four. When we love our fellow man, we will keep the last six.
So what’s different is the first covenant is what you call a conditional covenant where God said, “I’ll do this if you do this,” and they said, “We’ll do it,” and they didn’t. The next covenant, the new covenant, what promise is made by people in the new covenant? You want to look at the new covenant? Go with me… Where do you think you first find the new covenant? In the Old Testament, of course! Jeremiah 31.
Let’s look at the new covenant here. Verse 31. This should be easy to remember, Jeremiah 31:31. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Now, who is making the promise in this covenant, the people or God? Is this a conditional promise or an unconditional promise? In other words, is God saying, “I’ll do this if you do this”? There is nowhere in here where God says, “If you do this, I’ll make a new covenant with you.” The new covenant is based upon what Christ did. It’s based on better promises. It’s not the promises of the people; it’s based on the promises of God to write that same law, except write it now, where? In our hearts. So the idea that the new covenant is to obliterate or do away with the Ten Commandments, you can’t support that from the Bible. That’s not what it’s teaching. The new covenant is, through the love of Christ, His law is written in our heart.
Here’s another very important thing. You’ve probably heard this: Old covenant is made with the Jews. The new covenant is made with whom? Gentiles? Let’s read it. It says, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” And if you go to Hebrews in the New Testament, when it quotes it, Hebrews 8:8, it says the same thing. “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” So how in the world can any Gentile be saved through the new covenant? Paul makes it very clear, the apostles made it very clear, we are grafted in, we are adopted, we receive circumcision in the heart. “…if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed,” “…he is not a Jew who is one outwardly…; but he is a Jew who is” what? “one inwardly,” so we become adopted in.
God still has a work for the Jewish people. I don’t want to make it sound like they don’t exist anymore, but the new covenant is not given to literal Jews, it’s given to spiritual Jews, which would include literal Jews, because it’s “whosoever will.” Do you see what I’m saying? But if you think that the new covenant is only for literal Jews, a lot of us here are in trouble. So how do you resolve that? That’s why Paul says all of Israel will be saved, because God has made an unconditional promise that He will save all of His children that come to Him in faith, that whosoever will, “whosoever believeth in him [will] not perish, but have everlasting life.” Is it based on our promises or His promise?
There are a lot of promises and covenants in the Bible that were conditional. Let me give you some examples of that. I’ll read to you, for instance, Deuteronomy 11. I’m just going to jump around a little bit and show you the difference in the different kinds of covenants. Deuteronomy 11:22, “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves…. Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey….” So is this an unconditional or a conditional promise? Conditional.
Let’s read Leviticus 26:3, 4. “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Conditional or unconditional?
By the way, one reason I’m reading these, do some of God’s conditional promises still apply? When God said, “prove me now herewith, saith the Lord,” “bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,” and see “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it,” is that an unconditional or a conditional covenant? It’s conditional, but does it still exist? Does God still invite us to test Him? Does He still bless those that obey Him? Does the Bible say it will be well with those that serve the Lord? Yes. There are a lot of examples, New and Old Testament, where God talks about His conditional covenants. There are conditional promises.
Here’s another one. Deuteronomy 28:9, “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers….”
Go to Deuteronomy 30:8. “And you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all His commandments which I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock…. For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God….”
Someone has 1 Kings 3:14. Another example of a conditional promise. Somebody else, I think, has Deuteronomy 29:1. “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.” Now, here are two mountains, Horeb and Moab. What separates these two mountains? Who knows? Forty years separates those two mountains. When they first came out of Egypt, they went to Mount Horeb. Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai are the same mountain. So He gives them the Ten Commandments. Right? You can see in Malachi chapter 4, it says Moses gave you the Ten Commandments in Horeb. It’s Mount Sinai—same mountain. Moab is the mountain where Moses died 40 years later. So you have these two mountains, and the book Deuteronomy means “a repeating of the covenant.” God repeats His promises and His covenant to the people there in the book of Deuteronomy.
Read for us 1 Kings 3:14. “So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” So, conditional or unconditional? Conditional promise. God is good, and He has shown a lot of mercy.
One of the things I wanted to get to before our time runs out, in light of what we said about the two covenants a minute ago, turn in your Bibles to Galatians 4. You’re going to run into this. Galatians 4:22. It makes the comparison between Hagar and Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael. “For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise….”
Who was the bondwoman? Hagar, and the free woman is Sarah. Hagar was Sarah’s slave. Now, why is Paul saying that Hagar was of the flesh and Sarah was of faith? Because God had made a promise to Abraham that through your son with Sarah all the nations of the world would be blessed, and Sarah got old, she couldn’t have children any more, and they thought, “We’ll help God out,” and they tried to use earthly means, fleshly means, carnal means, to accomplish God’s promise. Yes, they had a son, but it was—you could say it was righteousness by works. He was not the son of promise. It was man’s attempt to force God’s promises. That’s kind of like saving ourselves by our own works.
He says then, verse 24, “which [these] things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai”—made on faulty promises, not the Ten Commandments—which is “in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” The promise that the children of Israel made at Mount Sinai, We will do it, We’re going to do it by our works, was the same promise they were making in Jerusalem in the time of Paul. The scribes and the Pharisees, the Pharisees and Sadducees—it was all about works. He said it corresponds to Old Jerusalem. But then Paul goes on and says they’re “in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above,” the New Jerusalem, “is free, which is the mother of us all.” It’s by looking up. It’s by faith. And where is Christ now? Is He below, or is He in the New Jerusalem above, in the temple above? So Paul is just making a comparison between one that is through works and one that is through faith. So that’s all he’s saying. He’s not saying what happened at Mount Sinai was bad.
What are some of the benefits of the covenant? It says here in Ephesians 2:6, through Christ we are “raised … up together, and made [to] sit together [with Him] in the heavenly places.”
So let’s go ahead and read—when does Jesus establish the new covenant? Mark 14. Do you have your Bibles? If you’re making notes (and I’ll have my notes online if anyone wants them), Matthew 26:26, Luke 22:17, 1 Corinthians 11:23—these are places where at the last supper God institutes a sign, a token, of the new covenant. What do we do in the church, typically once a quarter? What do we do to remember the token of the new covenant? It’s the communion service, right. Mark 14:22, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’
“Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said…, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant….’” Old covenant, what blood was it? Blood of goats and animals. That was all a symbol. New covenant, it’s the blood of Jesus, “‘which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new’” (it’s unfermented!) with you “‘in the kingdom of God.’” So here Jesus, on Thursday night, establishes the new covenant.
Old covenant, you had the earthly temple. What happened when Jesus died on the cross in the temple? Veil was ripped. Is there a new temple now? “What? know ye not that” “ye are the temple of God”? You are “living stones.” Christ is a cornerstone. Jesus said, “destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will [make one] without hands.” By the way, that was the only testimony they could get the two people to agree on at His trial. They actually misquoted it a little bit, but Jesus did say in the Gospel of John, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” and He spoke of His body. “You are the body of Christ.” We are now a living temple.
Old temple, veil ripped. What about priesthood? Same priesthood? New covenant, new priesthood. What happened at the trial of Christ to the high priest’s garments? He tore them, because we’re not under that priesthood any more. Now the Bible says we are a “holy nation, a peculiar people.” We are “a royal priesthood” with the Lord. So you have a new temple, you have a new priesthood, you have new sacrifices, you have better promises. See the differences between the old covenant and the new covenant?
So we don’t need the Ten Commandments any more, right? No. You still have the sanctuary, and in the middle of the sanctuary was the covenant. It was the Holy of Holies, and the law was written there, and Jesus wrote that with His finger. What God writes is eternal. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will [not] pass away,” and it’s now to be written here. “[Thy] word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin….” “Sin is the transgression of the law.” So the new covenant is to have the law written in the heart, right? So I thought this was really important to reiterate that, and we have run out of time.
I want to remind those who may have joined us late, if you missed it, we have a really good book that helps explain the covenants. It’s free! I hope you’ll send for it. It was written by Joe Crews, and it’s called Why the Old Covenant Failed, and we’ll be happy to send you this book, and then please read and share.