Erik Strandness responds to a recent debate between ‘Side A and...
How do the covenants play out?
On this issue we must first clear out the cobwebs and then deal with the treasures hidden within. We must first deal with the modern “heresy” that we are a people of grace and that law has no hold on Christians. The relationship between law and grace has attracted more confusion than it needed to and this confusion has arisen from a lack of understanding of the covenants God has made with us. So here’s a short section from my book God’s Tapestry that hopefully will make a start of clearing things up:
Here is the covenant God made with Abraham:
“On the same day the LORD cut a covenant with Abram saying, “To your seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite, the Kenizite, the Kadmonite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Gergashite, and the Jebusite.” (Genesis 15:18-21 One New Man Bible)
This was shown to be an everlasting covenant, an unconditional one that God will never revoke. We concentrate on the promises of the land and the physical descendants, but there’s another aspect to this covenant that is worth exploring now. We can see it in the very first declaration of the promise that God made to Abraham:
“Now the LORD had said to Abram, “Get yourself out of here!From your country and from your kindred and from your father’s house to a land that I shall show you. And I shall make a great nation of you, and I shall bless you and make your name great and you will be a blessing. And I shall bless those who bless you and curse the one who curses you: and in you will all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 One New Man Bible)
That final declaration, “and in you will all families of the earth be blessed”, is repeated in Galatians. What we see is God providing a means for the Gentiles, the families of the earth, to be grafted into the everlasting covenant with Abraham.
“So that the blessing of Abraham would come to the heathens by means of Messiah Y’shua, so that we could take the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14 One New Man Bible)
So all can benefit from the spiritual promises of the Abrahamic covenant, though the specific physical promises are intended just for Abraham’s physical descendants, the Jews. And that basically is what the New Covenant is, the spiritual promise of the Abrahamic covenant.
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you” (Genesis 17:7 One New Man Bible)
This seed is, of course, the promised Messiah, Jesus, the Messiah for all.
“… and in you will all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 ONMB)
And the land promises:
“And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8 ONMB)
To really understand these things we need to understand how the main covenants – the Abrahamic, Mosaic (the one given through Moses) and New Covenants - all fit together:
The Abrahamic Covenant had physical promises to the physical descendants, the Jews, which were eternal and unconditional, regarding the land and the people. It also had spiritual promises to the spiritual descendants, the Christians (Gentiles and Jews), which were eternal and unconditional, regarding the New Covenant, instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
So a Jewish Christian benefits from both the physical and spiritual promises.
The only promises the Mosaic Covenant had were conditional ones. If the Israelites did this, then God would do that. It simply bound together the Hebrew Nation under the laws and teachings of the 613 instructions of the Torah given by God to Moses. It served as a nation builder and, ironically, a curse that highlighted the need for a better covenant.
“… but now He has obtained a so much more excellent service, and He is mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6 ONMB)
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp