The New Covenant Promises New Hearts That Will Keep an Everlasting Law

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While the two covenants can be confusing for some of us, I really appreciate a couple of things last week’s Sabbath School lesson brought out, which I believe clears up any confusion. 

While many people believe that God changed His covenant at the cross, speaking of the covenant in the Old Testament, God told us through David,

My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Psalms 89:34 NKJV

Here God is saying He is not going to change His covenant. So did God change His covenant at the cross? Well let’s look at God’s covenant in the Old Testament. Of course a covenant is a promise. So what were God’s promises?

In Genesis 3:15 God promises a Savior.

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. Genesis 3:15 NKJV

Did God change this promise at the cross? Of course not. He fulfilled this promise at the cross.

In Genesis 12:1-3 God promises Abram a Savior, among many things. 

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

Were any of these promises done away with at the cross? Not at all. As a matter of fact we read in Galatians,

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29 NKJV.

The NLT makes it even more clear at to exactly what this means. 

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3;29 NLT 

Instead of God’s covenant to Abraham being changed, it was extended to everyone who believes. 

At Sinai God makes a promise,

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:4-6 NKJV

In the original manuscripts the word “obey” is “Shama.” It means to listen. The word “keep” is “shamar.” it means to regard, care for or treasure. God says.”Keep my covenant,” and we know that God’s covenant is a promise. How are supposed to keep God’s promise? We aren’t. God is telling us to listen to His voice and treasure His promise! The word “shamar” is also used in Genesis when Adam was told to shamar the garden, or keep the garden. Was Adam told to obey the garden? No, of course not. He was told to regard, treasure and care for the garden. In this passage God is telling His people to treasure His covenant promises, and by thus doing, they will be His special people,  made holy, preserved from corruption, a kingdom of priests. Was this promise changed after the cross?

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV

Once again we see that God’s covenant does not change from Old Testament to New Testament. Everything promised in the Old Testament becomes reality in the New Testament – as  long as we trust in His great and precious promises. That’s because God’s covenant given to Adam, Abram and Moses is an eternal covenant as expressed in Psalm 89:34. This is why Monday’s lesson of last week brought out that the “New” Covenant was actually a renewing of the everlasting covenant God originally gave to Adam, Abram and Moses. When God spoke of a “new” covenant in Jeremiah 31, He used the word, “hadashah,” which means to renew. Abram forsook God’s everlasting covenant when he took Hagar as his wife. He stopped trusting God’s promises and covenant and tried working things out on his own. At Sinai instead of trusting God’s promises, Israel started making their own promises, saying, “All that God said we will do.” (See Exodus 19:8) This original Covenant was never the problem. God’s Covenant was never intended to be about legalism. The original Covenant God made  was all about grace. Hebrews 8:8 says the problem was with the people. They started making their own promises instead of trusting God’s great and precious promises. When people kept trying to make their own promises and work things out on their own, God had to renew the original covenant all the way back in Genesis 3:15, which is based on better promises – God’s promises, rather than people’s promises. For more see Better Promises Make a Better Covenant. When Paul speaks of the old covenant I believe he means “old” as in “useless.” because our promises are useless. Paul is not referring to the original everlasting covenant as the old covenant. He is referring to the legalistic covenant that man made at Sinai as the old covenant as in useless. Man made covenants are useless in both Old and New Testaments.

The “New” Covenant of grace is actually the everlasting covenant of grace found all the way through both the Old and New Testaments, beginning in Genesis 3:15. God never changed this covenant. But He renewed this covenant whenever people tried to change covenants by making their own promises. The “New” Covenant is the original everlasting covenant, which  is God making promises to man. The “old” Covenant, which is a useless covenant, is a covenant man made after God made the everlasting Covenant.  When Abram took Hagar, he was making his own legalistic covenant apart from God’s everlasting covenant. The same for the Jews when they promised at Sinai that they themselves would do what God had promised. 

Some have the idea that the law is the Old Covenant ,while grace is the New Covenant. However when Paul said, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” in Romans 3:20, Paul was not saying anything new. Paul was stating a truth as everlasting as the original covenant. No one was ever saved by the law before or after the cross. This is clearly seen in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve tried to make their own fig leaves to cover themselves. Their fig leaves proved useless in God’s sight just as the deeds of the law. In Genesis 3:21 an animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve. This represents Jesus dying on the cross – which is the everlasting covenant. So throughout the Old Testament we see the new or renewed covenant whenever God is promising mankind His grace. Throughout the New Testament we see the renewed or everlasting covenant. Maybe we could clear up a lot of confusion by just calling the New Covenant the Everlasting Covenant, and calling the Old Covenant the “useless covenant.” Remember the New Covenant is the renewing of the original everlasting covenant based on better promises-God’s promises. 

While we have grace in the Everlasting Covenant. we also have the law in the Everlasting Covenant. This is why I really appreciate how Thursday’s lesson of last week brought out how the new covenant was not about new laws, but about a new heart. 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27 NKJV

God does not give us new laws. He gives us new hearts that will trust His promises instead of relying on self. God changes our hearts so that we can keep and cherish all the promises God makes for us in His law. In the Ten Commandments God promises He will deliver us from bondage so we won’t need any other gods before us. He promises to fulfil all our temporal and emotional needs so we won’t need to steal or commit adultery. He promises us a weekly Sabbath rest to always remind us to never rely on our own works. 

After all the problem at Sinai was not the law, it was the promises the people were making. Again that is why Paul said the fault was with “them” in Hebrews 8:8. When God renews His Everlasting Covenant we will be keeping the law with all our new hearts.

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. Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV 

Now in Jeremiah 31:32 God talks about Israel breaking the covenant when He led them out of Egypt. They broke God’s covenant when they went about to establish their own covenant promises. God never asked them to make their own promises. Remember in Exodus 19:4-6 God asks them to cherish His promises. The useless covenant is mankind promising God. The Everlasting and Re-Newed Everlasting Covenant is God promising man. By God’s Everlasting Promises of grace in both the Old and New Testaments we have salvation from sin, and are given new hearts that can keep or Shamar, cherish the everlasting law. We escape the corruption in the world by cherishing God’s great and everlasting promises. 

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.