In Part 4, we looked at various ways and types of covenants that God has made with human beings over time. He made unconditional promises to Noah and to Abraham. He made a conditional covenant with Israel, and that one has been replaced by a new covenant.
However, you may have spotted a couple of problems. For example, how does it work that God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham but a conditional one with his descendants? Another problem is if the Abrahamic covenant is still in effect, then how can the Old Covenant truly be obsolete?
Well, the answers may surprise you. Unfortunately, the reason it would surprise you is because the typical view of God that is traditionally portrayed to you is too small.
Your God Is Too Small
God created us. God created the entire solar system. God created the entire Milky Way. God created a vast universe that we cannot even comprehend let alone travel in its entirety.
And yet, when it comes to much smaller stuff, the average theologian will poo-poo ideas just because they don’t fit their particular mold.
For example, people do not want to believe that Abraham could become the father of many nations. He wasn’t just the father of the Jews. If you look at the history in the Bible, the Jews only represent about 1/12th of the once unified nation of Israel. After King Solomon, the northern part of the kingdom rebelled and became the House of Israel. The southern kingdom was then known as the House of Judah. The House of Judah were often referred to as “Jews”. Sometimes, the northern kingdom was simply referred to as “Israel”.
Confusing? Perhaps. However, we have the same habits today. If someone is from “Washington”, what do we mean? What about an “American”? The last one in particular can be a little touchy, seeing as there are two entire continents called “America”.
The point is that both the northern and southern kingdoms eventually went into captivity. Some from the southern kingdom, the House of Judah, eventually returned to what became known as Palestine. In the days of Jesus, it was called “Judea”, once again a reflection that the majority tribe represented were descended from Judah. However, the northern kingdom never did return in any significant numbers. They became the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel”.
You can read more specifics in “The Lie of Dispensationalism, Part 5: The Promises to Israel” and “Does God Keep His Promises?”
Without a doubt, the roles of Great Britain and the United States fulfill the prophecies of Israel and Judah like no other two nations can.
The unconditional and ongoing covenant of Abraham also explains something else that proponents of traditional theology like to explain away with a lot of hand waving. God is not yet done with Israel!
When Does the Old Covenant Go Away?
Mainstream Christians believe that the Old Covenant is obsolete. They have been taught that it was replaced with a New Covenant. They are correct, but only in part.
There are a couple of big problems. First of all, God is not calling everyone right now.
People have been taught that Jesus came to save everyone from that time forward. Yet, Jesus said:
And, Notice what else He said:
10And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matthew 13:10-15, King James Version)
Now, did you catch that? This is Your Savior talking! Again, are the words in red so we can ignore them?
If mainstream Christianity is correct, Jesus just condemned an entire mass of people to Hell. So, again, I ask, “What kind of God do you worship?”
The problem is that the New Covenant is in effect, but only for a chosen few. That’s why they are called “chosen” in the New Testament.
Because the Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional and because the New Covenant is only offered to a few at this time, then what of the Old Covenant? Frankly, it still exists!
Not clear? Try the NIV:
13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
This is in the present tense! The earliest dating of the Book of Hebrews is 60 AD. That’s almost 30 years after Christ died, and the Old Covenant is still “aging” and “will soon” disappear!
We are in a period of time when the Old Covenant is still grandfathered in because the New Covenant has not yet been open and made available to all of mankind. However, the Old Covenant is obsolete to those to whom the New Covenant is being offered now.
That’s why this passage makes sense even in light of the New Covenant:
27And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.
28And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
Another thing that mainstream Christianity cannot explain is why it is obsolete. Sure, they may use the same words and phrases but mean different things.
“The New Covenant is more spiritual,” they say. What they really mean is, “It is as empty as air.”
You see, a covenant comes with obligations. A covenant comes with terms. Otherwise, it isn’t a covenant at all.
Yes, the New Covenant is “more spiritual”. Why? Because the Old Covenant was given to a physical people and contained physical promises. If you obey, you get good crops. If you feed the poor, then you will prosper.
So, what is different about the New Covenant? The promises are spiritual. The promises are about eternal life in God’s family.
You see, when you preach that you have an immortal soul, then this means nothing at all. Look up “immortal” sometime in a dictionary.
The lie down through the ages has been that you cannot die. You live on after "death". Of course, it really isn’t "death" if you are still somehow alive, right? Of course not. "Death" is the absence of life. But…
If you live on as an immortal soul after your body is buried, then “eternal life” is not a “gift”! You already have it!
Which brings me to the side note that you cannot earn eternal life. Those who say the Churches of God teach you earn salvation are sadly mistaken. You cannot because you cannot keep the Law. Every time you sin, you are earning death. It is the gift of the shed blood of Jesus Christ that washes that sin away.
However, none of that does away with the need to keep the Law.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
And, of course, one of the traditional definitions of sin is transgression against God’s Law (1Jn 3:4).
As posted in the last part, the obsolescence of the Old Covenant does not do away with the Law itself. It is a mistake to equate the two. In fact, the New Covenant is really just the moral law with better promises.
You might ask, “What about faith?” The answer is, “Look at the example of Abraham. The Old Covenant required faith as well.”
The New Covenant is spiritual. It is permanent. It is spiritual because it involves spirit beings full of power and glory, not because it is full of nothing but air. It is permanent because the physical will dissolve away.
Think about it. The earth itself will one day be purified by fire. Human beings will be immortal. Human beings will be spirit because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1Co 15:50). What good will physical rewards be at that point?
So, the Old Covenant is passing away. It has been replaced by the New Covenant. However, we are in a transition period between Old and New. This transition period is demarcated by Jesus’ first and second comings.
The Old Covenant promised physical benefits. However, all that is physical is temporary. The New Covenant promises eternal life. Physical blessings won’t make sense to spirit beings filled with power and glory. The Old Covenant was never intended to be permanent, as it has been God’s plan all along to create spirit beings born into His family.