- Covenants and Testaments -
When studying Scripture, one can find both testaments and covenants. What are the meanings of these two words? Do they have the same meaning? In a sense, they can be considered to be in agreement, meaning that both covenant and testament can refer to something agreed upon. But from a scriptural perspective, they become two distinct entities.
A testament in scripture is addressing a last will and testament, or more simply put, a testament is the disposing of a person's property after death. If this is the case, what property in Scripture is being disposed of and do covenants have anything to do with the disposing of this property?
Let us begin this study by looking at the definition of covenant and how it is applied scripturally. The Hebrew word is beriyth, Strong's #1285, and means "cutting, compact (because it is made by passing between pieces of flesh); confederacy; covenant, league." This term, in Scripture, applies to several agreements--between Yahweh and His people; and between two or more people. There are several covenants found between tribes or nations ad between individuals (1 Samuel 11:1; Joshua 9:6; Genesis 21:27). As with any of the agreements found in Scripture, each party would commit himself to do something to fulfill his part of the covenant. This was usually followed by an oath with all involved, or simply by fulfilling one's part of the agreement. This being the case with Abraham. "He believed in Yahweh and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). But this did not come about until Abraham and Sarah doubted the words of Yahweh. They laughed at the idea of bearing children. Sarah gave her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham and Ishmael was born. But Yahweh held up His part of the agreement, "Sarah shall bear you a son, and his name shall be Isaac" (Genesis 17:19).
In Joshua 9 (KJV), the inhabitants of Gibeon made a covenant with Joshua through deception so they would not be destroyed. The princes of Israel swore unto the Gibeonites, before Yahweh, that they would not be destroyed (Deuteronomy 9).
Covenants were to be taken very seriously. To break a covenant usually ended in the death of those who broke the agreement. This is symbolized in Genesis 15:10-17, with the cutting of the animals and the participants of the agreement passing between the pieces. In Jeremiah 34, we read of Israel's plight after breaking the covenant with Yahweh. "I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beast of the earth" (Jeremiah 34:17-22). The smoking furnace and fire, according to the Jewish scholars, represented the shekinah glory, which symbolized Yahweh's participation in the ritual.
There are several covenants made between Yahweh and man. In Genesis 9, He makes one with Noah, and in 2 Samuel 12, Yahweh makes one with David. These two are in association with the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham and His seed.
Of all the covenants found in Scripture, the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham is the agreement that covers the whole of biblical history. "On the same day, Yahweh made a covenant with Abraham saying, 'To your descendants I have given the land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates; and to Isaac, I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.'" (Genesis 15 and 17).
This was the covenant of promise made to Abraham, Isaac and, eventually, Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14). It would not only include their progeny, but the whole of the earth: "You (Abraham) shall be the father of many nations, I will make nations of you; Kings shall come from you." "Dwell in this land and I will be with you (Isaac) and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham, your father." "And behold, Yahweh stood above it and said, 'I am Yahweh El of Abraham your father and the El of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you (Jacob), and to your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth' ...In your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 28:13-14; 26:3-4; 17:1-6).
In the seed of these three men we find the fulfillment of the whole of Scripture. The covenant of Promise made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a footnote to a larger event that would give explanation to man's history on the earth.
Paul gives us understanding as to who this seed is. In Galatians 3:16, Paul writes, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, and to your seed who is the Messiah." Throughout the New Testament writings, it is understood that Yahshua is the Messiah of Yahweh. The phrase in the KJV (Luke 2:11), "...a Savior who is Christ the Lord..." does not give an accurate interpretation of what the original would have been. This English translation is very poor, to say the least, because it does not provide a good understanding of Scripture. Yahshua clearly states in John 5:24 that His Father sent Him for the purpose of salvation. In John 17:5-6, Yahshua makes known who His father is--He is Yahweh. Going back to Luke 2:11, the Scripture should say "...a Savior who is the Messiah of Yahweh...." The words "the Lord" are erroneously used by translators to substitute Yahweh's name in Scripture.
Yahweh promised, through an agreement (covenant), that the land of Canaan was to belong to Abraham and his seed--Yahshua. As Paul instructs the reader in Galatians 3:28-29, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yahshua. And if you are Messiah's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise."
Luke capitalizes on this thought when he writes in Acts 3:25, "You are sons of the prophets and of the covenant which Elohim made with our Fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'" Moses wrote it from a different view, but still having the same meaning as written above. Speaking to Abraham, Yahweh says, "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3).
One of the primary covenants in Scripture is Yahweh promising Abraham and his seed (Yahshua) the land of Canaan. "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates; the Kenites, the Kerizzites, the Ammonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites and the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites" (Genesis 15:18-21). The conflict lies between the use of seed and descendants--the singular and the plural. To whom, then, is the land given? From Abraham, through the seed, the descendants claim possession to the land. Therefore, there was the necessity of a testament and a disposal of property. We read in Hebrews 9:116-17, "For where there is a testament, there must also, of necessity, be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives."
In Genesis 25:8, we read where Abraham died and his testament came into full force with a disposing of property. Claims to the promise, the land of Canaan, moves to the seed. The last will and testament of Abraham prior to his death reads, "...in your seed," (Genesis 22:18).
In Matthew 27:50, the NEW TESTAMENT takes place: "And Yahshua cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit." The death of the second testator then took place and now the promise (Galatians 3:29) to Abraham's descendants was in effect. Finding its fulfillment is found in Daniel 7:22, "...until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints or descendants of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the Kingdom."
In the OLD TESTAMENT, the land is referred to as the promise and the descendants of Abraham were to possess the land. In the New Testament, the land became the kingdom, and the descendants became saints. Why?
In the Old Testament, Yahweh makes a covenant with the sons of Jacob and with the grandsons of Isaac and Abraham. The covenant was the premier covenant made with the House of Israel--Jacob and his sons. Genesis 32:28, "You are to be no longer called Jacob, but Israel." This covenant was made with the sons of Jacob, or Israel. It was to be the second most prominent covenant found in Scripture, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (Deuteronomy 5; Hebrews 8 and 10). This covenant is known as the covenant of love (Exodus 20:6; 1 John 5:3) and the covenant of obedience (Deuteronomy 5; Matthew 5:17-22).
This covenant made with the sons of Jacob (Israel) is linked with the covenant of promise made with Abraham. Moses called all Israel and said, "The statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, you must learn and be careful to observe them." Yahweh made a covenant with us in Horeb. Yahweh did not make this covenant with our fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), but with those of us who are here today--all of us who are alive.
"Yahweh talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire...you shall walk in all the ways which Yahweh your Mighty One has commanded you that you may live and that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess" (Deuteronomy 5; Exodus 19:5-6).
In order for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to obtain the promise of the land, they had to address the covenant of obedience. "Now a certain ruler asked Him saying, 'Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' So Yahshua said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One; that is Eloah. You know the commandments. Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother'" (Luke 18:18-20).
In order for the House of Israel (Ephesians 2:19-22) to inherit eternal life, which is to be in the land of Canaan, they had to be obedient to the covenant of love--the covenant of obedience (Deuteronomy 5; Hebrews 12:20-22).
Many teach that only the ten commandments are to be kept. Moses says something quite different in Deuteronomy 5:30-31, "Go and say to them, 'Return to your tents; but as for you, stand here by Me, and I will speak to you all the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I am giving them to possess.'" To "observe" means "to keep" in the passage above. Israel was to keep their part of the agreement with Yahweh in order to inherit the covenant promise made with Abraham and his seed.
Israel gave an oath to this agreement, "All the words which Yahweh has said we will do" (Exodus 24:3). Please study the entire chapter of Exodus 24.
Why then was the land given to Abraham and his "Seed"? The house of Israel gave their solemn oath that they would address completely the covenant of obedience. A prophecy given to Israel tells exactly what they did do: "But I must die in this land; I must not cross over the Jordan, but you shall cross over and possess that good land. Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which Yahweh your Elohim has forbidden you. For Yahweh Elohim is a consuming fire, a jealous Mighty One...and Yahweh will scatter you among the peoples...and you will serve gods, the work of man's hands, wood and stone which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell" (Deuteronomy 4:1-40).
This is exactly what Israel did, and is still doing today. They were scattered amongst the nations (Hosea 9:17). To this day, they are worshipping the wood and the stone. This is why Yahweh divorced Israel (Jeremiah 3), and why the covenant of promise was made to Abraham and his "Seed." Yahweh knew that Israel would break the everlasting covenant of obedience (Deuteronomy 4:25-28). Therefore, there had to be two testaments instead of one. The promise was not to be given to the descendants unless they obeyed Yahweh.
Through Yahshua would all nations be blessed, even Israel. But Israel was "swallowed up." Now they are among the Gentiles, because Ephraim (10 Northern tribes) "...has made many altars for sin" (Hosea 8:8-13). The sons of Jacob, after being divorced (Jeremiah 3), became as the nations, and the end result was that they lost their inheritance.
According to the Torah, Israel should have been killed, for the blood of bulls and goats could not cleanse their adulterous, idolatrous behavior. The land promised had become defiled (Jeremiah 3:6-9; Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 29). Yahweh's Torah clearly teaches that both Israel and the land would come under Yahweh's wrath (Deuteronomy 29:23-25) as a result of disobedience.
Clay in the Potter's Hand
Turning to Jeremiah 18, we read why Yahweh did not destroy His people and the land in which He desired them to live. "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter? Look as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel" (Jeremiah 18:1-17). Yahweh looked into His holy Torah and said, "Israel is My son, even My firstborn; because all the firstborn are Mine; all the firstborn of My sons I redeem" (Exodus 4:22; Numbers 3:13; Exodus 13:15).
Yahweh's decision was this: "'Behold, the days are coming...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 (Exodus 32:8-20), though I was a husband to them,' says Yahweh. 'But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days...I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts and I will be their Mighty One and they shall be My people'" (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews, Chapters 8 and 10).
In these scriptures, the word "new" confuses people. According to Strong's Concordance, No. 2319, it just means "fresh, new thing, to rebuild; renew."
As Paul writes, "The ministry of death written and engraved on stones..." (2 Corinthians 3:7) would now be found written on the heart and engraved in their minds, by the spirit of Yahweh, not by His finger (Exodus 31:18; Zechariah 4:6).
This renewed covenant says, "Not of the letter but of the spirit, for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). "And because you are sons, Yahweh has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts...to redeem those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:5-6).
The Vine and the Branches
"And if you are Yahshua's, then are you Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29). How does Yahweh propose to do this? "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). "Behold I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). "But when the Helper comes whom I shall send for you from the Father; the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26). "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (1 John 3:4; Romans 8:4; Deuteronomy 32:4 and 41; 1 John 5:3). "When the spirit of truth has come, It will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13; Psalm 119:142; John 14:6).
This is the reason Peter instructs us, "Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Yahshua the Anointed of Yahweh (the Eternal High Priest--Hebrews 9:25); for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy spirit, for the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as Yahweh our Mighty One shall call" (Acts 2:38-39; Zechariah 10:6-8).
"Unless a man is born of the water and Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Elohim" (John 3:5). A man has to be born, or delivered by the spirit. How does the Spirit deliver us? "...that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26).
He brings to our remembrance the word of Yahweh, which is "...very near you, in your mouth, and in your heart that you may do it" (Deuteronomy 30:9-16).
There are those who teach that the Torah in the Old Testament does not apply to Yahweh's people today. Their argument decrees that it is merely a spiritual matter, and they are correct. Paul states that the law is spiritual (Romans 7:14). But the Torah is to be written within the heart and on the minds of men. This does not mean that it is done away with. What it does mean is that the curse of the law has been removed by the Redeemer, Yahshua, the Lamb of Yahweh (John 3:29; Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:13.
Yahshua did not remove the law; He removed the curse of the law, which Israel was under when they broke Yahweh's law (Isaiah 24:5). Israel broke the everlasting covenant, the covenant of love, the covenant of obedience; the agreement that would have guaranteed them a place in the land where Yahweh's Kingdom will reside (Hebrews 12; Revelation 21).
The bondwoman and her children were denied the inheritance (Genesis 17:19-21). But the promise of Abraham was given to the children of the free woman. For they would be brought out from under the bondage given at Sinai (Galatians 4:21-27). We "...had not known sin but by the law." "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not; on the contrary, we establish the law. For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of the Mighty One, but the doers of the law will be justified" (Romans 2:13, 3:31, 7:7).
Yahweh's spirit guides us to KEEP the Torah.
The guiding of His spirit compels us to keep His Sabbaths (Leviticus 23),
to love Him, to know and love His Son. His spirit guides us in all truths.
There are those who teach that the spirit instructs and guides us, rather than the Torah. But how does the Spirit guide us? Yahweh's Spirit guides us to KEEP the Torah. The guiding of His Spirit compels us to keep His Sabbaths (Leviticus 23), to love Him, to know and love His Son. His Spirit guides us in all truths This is why Yahweh instructs us: "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live and go in and possess the land which the Elohim of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments which I command you." "You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statues and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath...and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws by the hand of Moses, Your servant. You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger; and brought them water out of the rock for their thirst; and told them to go in to possess the land which You had sworn to give them. But they and our fathers acted proudly and hardened their necks and did not heed Your commandments" (Nehemiah 9:13-16).
We read in the book of Luke, "Blessed is Yahweh the Mighty One of Israel. For He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised our fathers and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He swore to our father, Abraham" (Luke 1:68-73).
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Found written in the Dead Sea scroll are these words: "And Thou has appointed the greater luminary for the season of the day and the lesser luminary for the season of night and there is no overstepping their bounds. They all minister unto Thee, and defy not Thy word, and their sway is over all the world. But the seed of man hath not understood all of which Thou has made; neither have men known Thee whensoever Thou has spoken; but they have done more wickedly than all things else, and have not perceived Thy great power. And Thou has rejected them, because thou hast delightest not in wrongdoing, and wickedness hath no standing in Thy presence. Howbeit in the time of Thy good pleasure, Thou wilt again choose unto thyself a people, for Thou has remembered Thy covenant; and thou wilt make them to be set apart to Thee a holy thing distinct from all the peoples; and Thou wilt renew Thy covenant to them with a show of glory and with the word of Thy Holy Spirit, with works of Thy hand and with a script of Thy right hand, revealing to them both the basic roots of glory and the heights of eternity and Thou wilt appoint for them a faithful shepherd...." The Dead Sea Scriptures, Theodore H. Gaster, pgs. 437, 438.
There are two scriptures missing in the pages above. They are found in Zechariah 9:9 and Matthew 21:5. We must adhere to the covenant of love and obedience in order to inherit eternity (Ephesians 2:19). No one can be a part of the covenant of promise (Genesis 18:18) unless they address the renewed covenant, something that is to be made like new, regenerated, or formed again, which is being done by the Spirit of Elohim.
Those who try to spiritualize or do away with the Torah need to read what was asked of Job: "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38). For the teacher (King Solomon) said this, "My son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands within you so that you incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding; if you cry out for discernment and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and find the knowledge of Eloah. For Yahweh gives wisdom: from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:1-6).
There can be found no wisdom in those who speak against Torah. "Teach me good judgment and knowledge for I believe Your commandments" (Psalm 119:66).
"Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among My disciples. I will wait for Yahweh, who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in Him. Behold, I and the children whom Yahweh has given me are signs and portents in Israel from Yahweh of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion" (Isaiah 8:16-18).
"To the law and the testimony: if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).
"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law. Do not fear the reproach of men nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment. And the worm will eat them like wool. But My righteousness will be forever, and salvation from generation to generation" (Isaiah 51:7-8).
"The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom and his tongue talks of justice. The law of Elohim is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide" (Psalm 37:30-31).
Yahshua the Messiah "...became for us wisdom from Elohim--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). Who is "us"? To whom were the covenants and the testaments given? Amos 3 and Ephesians 2 give the answer: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2). "You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of Yahweh" (Ephesians 2:19).
Lost Sheep of Israel
Yahshua said, "I was not sent but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15). Why? "I will say to those who were not My people, you are My people. And they shall say, 'You are my Elohim'" (Hosea 2:23).
Israel had been driven into the nations, "...because they did not obey Yahweh" (Hosea 9:17). "How can I give you up Ephraim? How can I give you up, Israel? ...My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger. I will not again destroy Ephraim" (Hosea 11:8-9).
Israel was "...to be to Yahweh a people of inheritance" (Deuteronomy 4:20). "They are Your people and Your inheritance" (Deuteronomy 9:29).
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Yahweh, and the promises; whose are the fathers and of whom as concerning the flesh the Messiah came, Who is over all, blessed forever" (Romans 9:4-5). Yahshua, Emmanuel, ("El with us"), came in the flesh, in the likeness of man, to be their Savior or Deliverer (Isaiah 7:14; John 3:16, 17 and 29; Matthew 1:23).
"For you are a holy people to Yahweh your Mighty One; Yahweh your Mighty One has chosen you (Israel) to be a special people unto Himself..." (Deuteronomy 7:6-11). We are a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. Yahweh loves us and because He has always kept the oath which He swore to our forefathers, He has redeemed us from the house of bondage. "...And for this purpose He (Yahshua) is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death for the redemption of transgressions of the first Testament, those which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:11-15).
Are we Yahweh's people? Yahweh gave His people the covenants: the covenant of promise, the covenant of love, the covenant of peace. He also gave us the salvation message, and He gave us our Messiah--Yahshua. He also gave us His Spirit which guides us in His Holy Torah. "For sin (lawlessness) shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law (the curse), but under grace...having been set free from sin (lawlessness), you became the servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:14-18).
"Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth...the righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting. Give me understanding that I might live" (Psalm 119:142 and 143).
How does one know if they are of Israel today, a disciple of Yahshua, having a part in the agreements Yahweh put before His house? "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples. I will strengthen them in Yahweh and they shall walk up and down in His name,' says Yahweh" (Zechariah 10:12; Isaiah 8:16-18; John 17; Matthew 5:17-48).
For Yahweh's law is a lamp unto your feet; a light unto your path, leading you along the ancient path to the narrow gate (Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 11:11; Matthew 7:13-14). If a stranger, alien, or Gentile desires to work this righteousness, he, too, may find favor with Yahweh and he, too, may receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, 10:35).
But how does one address the covenant of obedience that was broken? It had to be renewed between Yahweh and Israel. A New Covenant or agreement was made in the New Testament at Yahshua's death. The old covenant "...which decays and waxes old" was vanishing away.
What exactly is this new agreement? What does it pertain to? Is it having to do with the vanishing away of the covenant law? No! Yahweh has great wisdom: "...according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Yahshua the Messiah to Himself..." (Ephesians 1:4-5).
"And for this cause He, Yahshua, is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead; otherwise, it is of no strength at all while the testator lives" (Hebrews 9:15-17).
A sacrifice for transgressions under the covenant of obedience (Old Testament) had to be offered in order for the house of Israel to obtain the covenant of promise--the possession of the land. Only Yahshua's death, the shedding of His blood could remove the INTENTIONAL SINS of Israel, as well as their unintentional sins.
Therefore, what is the New Covenant that was ratified at the time of Yahshua's death and what, if anything, did His death "replace"? Did His death replace the laws of Yahweh, as many teach, or is something else being replaced?
Let's look into the New Covenant teachings out of the Old Covenant. Let's study what faith apart from the law means, and righteousness that comes from the law, including righteousness that comes by faith. Let's keep in mind that the New Testament did not exist during the apostles' time. They were the ones that passed these letters down to us so we would know that Yahshua, our Messiah, walked this earth. Their writings help us understand the purpose of Yahshua's life, death and resurrection.
Paul teaches us two ways to become righteous, even though they are both taught in the Old and New Testaments. They are not taught separately from each other. Examples of this can be found in Deuteronomy 30 and Romans 10:5. Paul taught the Roman assembly from the Old Testament about the subject of righteousness which comes by the law and that which comes by faith. Take note that Paul quoted from Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 30:12, 13, 14; Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:32. Paul teaches us in Romans 4 that Abraham believe Yahweh and it was considered righteousness to him, by faith.
David, by the Holy Spirit, teaches us from the Psalms that there is a righteousness that comes from the law. It changes our lives according to all of Yahweh's promises.
David said, by the Spirit, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey Your word." And, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalm 119:67; 71-72).
David also said, "Oh, how I love Your law. Your righteousness is everlasting and Your law is true" (Psalm 119:142). The Spirit adds, "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of Yahweh" (Psalm 119:1).
No one will ever be put to shame for walking in the laws of Yahweh. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of Yahweh, and on His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2). This is righteousness that comes by the law, which renews our lives.
Romans 3:31 teaches us the righteousness that comes by faith in the Word and speaks to us from the law and the prophets and is found in Romans 4:6-10. David also believed in a righteousness by faith. Paul quoted David's words spoken by the Spirit in Psalm 32:1-2.
Jeremiah prophesied that Yahweh would make a new covenant with the house of Israel and that He would write His laws in their hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:31).
Many feel that Paul spoke against this teaching because his message was to the Gentile people and that Jeremiah's prophecy was only for Israel In Romans 11:11-32, Paul teaches against this by saying that we are all engrafted branches which have become a part of the olive root. We will all become part of one family--the family of Israel.
It doesn't make any difference if you are a Jew or a Gentile. You can enter into this covenant only one way--by faith in the blood of Yahshua.
Paul says that Israel must also be grafted back into the house of Israel. They have fallen away like other men and women of the world, because of their unbelief. Both the nations of the world and Israel broke the first covenant.
Paul teaches in Romans 7:1 that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives. Romans 3:22 and 31 show us that Yahweh presented the Messiah as a blood covering for man. In addition, these verses show that faith in that blood atonement does not nullify the law of Yahweh. On the contrary, we are told we must uphold the law.
Romans 2:13 teaches us, "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in Yahweh's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Paul was telling the Gentile brethren in Rome that righteousness comes from obedience to the law .
In Acts 2:38, the apostle Peter proclaimed on the Feast of Weeks--the day the Spirit of Yahweh was given to help mankind receive salvation--to repent and be baptized, and the gift of the Holy Spirit would be given.
Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 3:13-16 that it is this Spirit that takes the veil off the eyes of the people. "We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the Old Covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Messiah is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to Yahshua, the veil is taken away."
Until that time, a veil had covered their hearts and minds and they could not understand Yahweh's laws. Only after the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to them, was the veil lifted and the law could then be clearly understood.
Paul teaches us in Roman 8:7 that a sinful or carnal mind is hostile to Yahweh. It does not submit to Yahweh's laws, nor can it do so. Have you ever considered why some people dislike Yahweh's laws so much? Maybe it's because His laws are telling them to do something that they do not want to do.
Do you understand that the whole world is still under the first covenant? It remains in existence today, just as it was on the day in which it was put into effect. Doesn't Hebrews 9:15 teaches us that when we are baptized, we are forgiven for the sins that were committed under the first covenant? Yes, it says that everyone is under the first covenant and that covenant was ratified by the blood of bulls.
We have previously read how David, teaching by the Spirit, gave us the "salvation message." The apostles expounded on these scriptures in the New Testament. They taught us about the New Covenant, which consists of the Spirit of Yahweh writing the laws on our hearts and minds.
Hebrews 8 and 10 bear witness to Jeremiah 31:33-34. Read Hebrews 8:8-10, "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares Yahweh. I will put My laws deep within their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their Elohim and they will be My people." Chapter 10, verse 17 says, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
Let's look closely at the two covenants. Is the Old Covenant fading and the New Covenant advancing? How could the Old Testament fade away when obedience to Yahweh's holy laws brings blessings and prosperity, wisdom and knowledge, in our lives? Eternal things do not fade away.
David says in Psalm 119:142, "Your righteousness is everlasting (eternal) and Your law is true." Does that sound like it is fading away?
"The Name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10). Does it sound like these words are fading away with the Old Covenant or could there be something else that is fading away which we do not understand?
Is the New Testament, canonized in 400 C.E., replacing the Old Testament, which was canonized in 180 B.C.E., as many people teach? Is all that Moses wrote fading away, and all that is written in the New Testament taking its place? Hebrews 7:22 teaches us, "Because of this oath, Yahshua has become the guarantee of a better covenant." Yahshua became a "priest forever," according to Yahweh's law. He could not be a priest from the house of Aaron because He was from the tribe of Judah. There is no law stating that a priest will come from the tribe Judah.
Hebrews 7:21 teaches, "But He became a priest with an oath when Yahweh said to Him; 'Yahweh has sworn and will not change His mind: You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.'" Because of this oath, Yahshua has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
"For this reason, Messiah is the mediator of a new covenant...that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15).
Let's go back to the Old Testament and look at the covenant that Yahweh made at Mt. Sinai to see if it is fading. Exodus 24:1-10 teaches us that Yahweh and the people that were with Moses made a covenant (agreement). Yahweh and the people that Moses led out of Egypt entered into this covenant. These people were Jacob's seed. This covenant was ratified by the blood of bulls. The blood, the atonement for sin, sprinkled on the altar, was required by Yahweh, the "party of the first part" of the contract. The people of Israel were the "party of the second part" of the contract, and the book of the law of Yahweh was the agreement between the two parties. Moses said, "This is the blood (the signature) of the covenant, that Yahweh is making with Israel." All the people said, "We will do everything that is written in the book."
Yahweh never intended this covenant to be a burden on the people. Deuteronomy 30:11-20 tells us, "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in the heavens, so that you have to ask, 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it."
This book of agreement is supposed to give us life and prosperity but if we fail to keep our share of the agreement, Yahweh will then punish us. Some parts of the agreement also carried a death sentence. It is still binding and exists today. Yahweh expects us to be obedient to the covenant agreed upon by our forefathers, that was validated by the blood of bulls, making it binding today.
Remember Hebrews 9:18, "Whereupon neither was the first covenant confirmed without blood." We go into baptism for the sins that we committed under the first agreement, that was ratified by the blood of bulls. Yahweh found fault in the people--not His covenant. Hebrews 8:8 confirms this. "But Elohim found fault with the people and said: 'The time is coming,' declares Yahweh, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead the out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to My covenant, and I turned away from them,' declares Yahweh."
The people turned away from Yahweh's laws and became hostile to them. So Yahweh turned away from them and they were punished for their sins. They were scattered throughout the world and multiplied many times over.
The New Agreement Started 2000 Years Ago
Micah 5:7-8 says, "The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from Yahweh, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and not one can rescue."
Who will rescue them from their exile? Micah 5:2 tells us, "But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me, One who will be Ruler over Israel, Whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of His brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of Yahweh, in the majesty of the Name of Yahweh His Elohim. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth."
Ezekiel 16:59-63 (Jerusalem Bible) agrees with this: "For the Sovereign Yahweh says this: 'I will treat you as you deserve, you who have despised your oath even to the extent of breaking a covenant, but I will remember the covenant that I made with you...and I will conclude a covenant with you that shall last forever. And you for your part will remember your past behavior and be covered with shame...I am going to renew My covenant with you; and you will learn that I am Yahweh, and so remember and be covered with shame, and in your confusion be reduced to silence, when I have pardoned you for all that you have done....'"
Yahweh has sent His Son, the first of His creation, to atone for our sins. John 3:17 teaches us that Yahweh did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world, through Him. Isaiah 53:10 teaches us that Yahweh would make His body a sin offering. John 3:18 says, "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of Yahweh's one and only Son."
"This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done though Yahweh" (John 3:19-21).
So Yahweh, the Father, has established Yahshua, our Messiah, to bring Jacob's seed back to Him. John 18 teaches us that Yahshua, the Son of Yahweh, was being condemned to death. His answer to Pilate is recorded in verse 36, "My kingdom is not of this world." In verse 37, Pilate says, "You are a king, then." Yahshua answered, "...for this reason was I born and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me."
In John 19:30, Yahshua gave up His spirit. In John 20:17, He was resurrected from the grave and told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father. Why was He returning to the Father? Yahshua was born to be a king and a new agreement was to be made. The blood of bulls, which validated the first agreement, could not bring eternal life (Hebrews 9:13), but could only cleanse a person outwardly. "How much more, then, will the blood of Messiah, who through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself unblemished to Yahweh, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living Elohim! For this reason, Messiah is the Mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant" (Hebrews 9:14-15).
This second agreement or covenant could not be made until the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when someone dies. Verse 18 indicates that is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which Elohim has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Adam wrapped himself in fig leaves. He had eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam had partaken of the forbidden fruit and his eyes were opened. He realized he was naked and unclean. The Creator Yahweh (Colossians 1:16) had to kill an animal, which shed its blood, and then clothe Adam with its skin, none of which would perfect the man.
Adam sinned intentionally and was cast out of the Garden of Eden. Guilt overtook his conscience when he realized what he and Eve had done. The blood of bulls and goats would have held them in this state forever.
How much better is the blood covering of Yahshua? Acts 13:38-39 teaches us that we have forgiveness of sins. Verse 39 says, "Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses."
What has vanished--what no longer applies to the first agreement? The offering of the blood of bulls and goats could not do what the blood of Yahshua did. Animal sacrifices "...could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." Only Yahshua's blood could open the veil to the holiest of places.
At His death, and with the shedding of His blood, "...the veil of the Temple was rent in two, from top to the bottom..." (Matthew 27:51; John 19:34). As it is written, the sacrificing of animal blood cleansed the outward man. But, Yahshua's blood cleanses the inward man--his conscience or awareness of sin.
Yahweh's laws instruct us on how we should live; Messiah teaches us how to put those laws into practice. He magnified the law and made it honorable. "Hear you deaf; and look, you blind, that you may see...It pleased Yahweh for the sake of His righteousness to make His law great and glorious" (Isaiah 42:18-21).
"Not until halfway through the Feast did Yahshua go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.... 'My teaching is not My own. It came from Him Who sent Me. If anyone chooses to do Yahweh's will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from Yahweh or whether I speak on My own...Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law...'" (John 7:14-19).
Yahshua's teachings will give man a true understanding of Deuteronomy 5--the covenant of obedience--so that he might obtain entrance into the Kingdom.
No man will perish, after having been sealed under the New Covenant of Yahshua's blood (John 3:16), but there will be no redemption without compliance. It would nullify Yahshua's sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:10-12).
The covenant made with Abraham has now become attainable through a new agreement made with and through Yahshua! (Isaiah 42:6).
"Messiah did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one: He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in Yahweh's presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Messiah would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Messiah was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:24-28).
The blood of bulls and goats sealed the first covenant, like a signature on a contract. This sealing is what is fading and is soon to disappear. The covenant validated on Mt. Sinai is still in full effect today. Baptism into the New Covenant makes the Old (first) Covenant signature ineffective.
The seal that Yahshua made 2000 years ago has taken effect in many lives, but will soon stand alone. Yahweh will close the door to all who refuse the agreement that was made (signed) by the blood of His Son.
Hebrews 8:13 says, "By calling this covenant 'new,' He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."
The covenant that was given to Moses is not fading, but the blood that sealed that covenant (the signature) is fading. The new seal is the blood of Yahshua, which is eternal and stands on better promises.
The saints of Yahweh have accepted the new signature--the blood of Yahshua. Revelation 11:19, 12:17 and 14:12 teach us that the saints will be keeping the exact same laws given to Moses, that were placed in the Ark of the Covenant.
Click here to test your knowledge.