W&L Gold Brush (Light)

Post

  • Wilson Lim

Covenant In The Bible (Part 6): How The Old Became New



INTRODUCTION


Unlocking the connection between the Old Testament and New Testament connection can be likened to piecing a jigsaw puzzle together. In the previous article in this series “How The Old Connects With The New” we showed Jesus is the key to unlocking the connection between the Old and the New Testaments. The correct explanation must be consistent in its applicability throughout all of Scripture. In this article, we apply the Jesus-key to demonstrate its consistency.


The critical matter to grasp is that it is all about the eternal principles. When Jesus functions as a filter, what eternal principle was upheld when Jesus fulfilled aspects of the Law? When Jesus functioned as a lens, what eternal principle is the focus behind specific requirements or practices? When Jesus functioned as an elevator, what is the more fundamental or higher eternal principle that is operative?


With the above in mind, let us consider what changed between the Old and New. Here are some changes in key areas.


Weekly Sabbath to Sabbath-rest in God


The 4th commandment is stated in Exodus 20:8–10 (NIV84) 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates..”


The Hebrew word Sabbath means rest and it was intended to mean to rest in God. The Jews zealously followed the form to take the Saturday rest in every week as a rule.


When Jesus came, Jesus filtered out the form of observing a day. Jesus served as the lens to refocus sabbath to its true intent. Mark 2:27–28 (NIV84) 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”


Sabbath was made for man, to find rest. In whom? In the Lord of the Sabbath. Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV84) 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.


How do we enter that rest? Hebrews 4:2-3 (NIV84) 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest.


Jesus served as a lens to refocus the weekly sabbath on its eternal principle: True Sabbath is resting by faith in Christ.

Through believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are now saved by God’s grace alone and not through human effort. Jesus served as a lens to refocus the weekly sabbath on its eternal principle: True Sabbath is resting by faith in Christ. As Christians we are to continue in this Sabbath rest by living in continual trust in God’s provision. 24/7 and 365 days in the year.


So we no longer need a weekly rest? The external form still useful guide. Having a day to rest from hard work and to spend about God’s business is always good for our body, soul and spirit.


10 Commandments: From Rules to Principles


Many are confused about the 10 commandments. Some say, “Since the Mosaic Laws no longer apply, neither do the 10 commandments”. Others say, “Jesus has fulfilled the Mosaic Law but not the 10 commandments since it is moral laws”. Does that mean we have to obey the Sabbath day commandment? Others claim that Jesus affirmed 9 of the commandments and therefore should be retained. But did He really? And there are many other ideas.


Principles contained within the Old Testament pass through Jesus as filter/lens/elevator into the New Testament. Consequently, the eternal principle is retained but the outer form can be changed.

The key is to understand that principles contained within the Old Testament pass through Jesus as filter/lens/elevator into the New Testament. Consequently, the eternal principle is retained but the outer form can be changed.


The 10 commandments in itself is a form of regulations. The form is often close to the principle, sometimes the same. Let’s now consider the first 5 commandments in the Table.

Commandments - (Ex 20:3-17)

Jesus affirmation

NT eternal principle

​1. You shall have no other gods before me.

Mt 22:37-38; Mt 4:10 indirect

​Love God above all else.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.

​Mt 4:10 indirect

​1 John 5:21

Worship God alone

3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

​Mt 5:33-37 indirect

​James 5:12

Honour God. Do not misuse God’s name for our purposes.

​4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

​Mark 2:27–28

​Heb 4:2-3, 6, 9-10

Find rest in God, the true Sabbath. Jesus is the way into this Sabbath.

​5. Honor your father and your mother.

​Matt 19:17-19

​Eph 6:1-3

Honour parents as authority figures.

The first 3 commandments are very close to the principle, as shown in the Table.


With the 3rd commandment, Jesus expands upon it in Matthew 5:33–37 (NIV84) 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.


In effect Jesus was saying that if we were to swear an oath by something on earth, or heaven, it is still in effect swearing upon something which belongs to God rather than us. We are therefore misappropriating God’s name. We are using God’s integrity, God’s honour to buttress our own. Jesus here acted as the lens, re-focussing on God’s honour. Hence, we not to misuse God’s name by using it for our own purposes. In fact, we should have the integrity not to need to swear an oath upon anything.


We cannot treat the 10 commandments as one complete set, to be moved in the same fashion across to the New Testament. Rather each should be processed uniquely through Jesus.

The 4th commandment is treated differently from the first 3 commandments, as was explained in detail earlier. The most obvious reason is because the 4th commandment was given in a form of an external religious practice, rather than an eternal principle. Thus, we cannot treat the 10 commandments as one complete set, to be moved in the same fashion across to the New Testament. Rather each should be processed uniquely through Jesus.


The 5th commandment is virtually the same principle. Jesus explicitly affirmed the 5th to 9th commandment in the narrative about the rich young ruler who wanted to gain eternal life. Matthew 19:17–19 (NIV84) 17 …If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”


So Jesus affirmed the commandments are important to obey. He sums up with “love the neighbour as yourself” which generally includes all the 5th to 10th commandments as these all relate to how we treat our neighbour.


The 6th and 7th commandments, Jesus elevated it to a higher standard, as shown in the Table below. It is obvious that Jesus moved the focus from specific behaviours to the condition of the heart. The 8th and 9th commandment apostle Paul brought out the principle more clearly. Again, like Jesus, Apostle Paul refocussed them from specific behaviours to the condition of the heart. The 10th commandment Jesus brought a clearer focus on the principle behind it.

Commandments

(Ex 20:3-17)

Jesus affirmation

NT eternal principle

​6. You shall not murder.

​Matt 19:17-19; Matt 5:21–22

​Do not hate/despise/devalue others. Do not harm others.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

​Matt 19:17-19; Matt 5:27–28

​Rom 7:1-3, 13:8-10

Do not lust after another.

​8. You shall not steal.

Matt 19:17-19

​Eph 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Principle: Be a giver, not a taker. Do not take what is not yours.

​9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Matt 19:17-19; Rom 13:9

​Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Be truthful. Do not harbour falsehood.

10. You shall not covet.

​Matt 19:17-19; Luke 12:15

​Do not be greedy.

It is fantastic if we can work from eternal principles to determine what is acceptable to God or not. Otherwise, we can fall back on the commandments itself. Because for the most part, the form is a good indicator of the principle. Except the 4th commandment on the sabbath day rest.


Indeed, we find a similar approach amongst the New Testament writers. At times, the New Testament writers used the form and at other times revealing the eternal principles behind them. It appears to depend on the context. It is like driving on the road. For simplicity we could say, “Just follow the road rules.” Or for more advanced and safer driving we could teach the driver principles of safe driving and ask them to apply the most appropriate principles to safe driving.


Circumcision of flesh to circumcision of heart


Circumcision of the flesh is an outward form, given in the Abrahamic covenant where the male foreskin is cut off. But the eternal principle is circumcision of the heart. Romans 2:28-29 (NIV84) 28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.


Physical circumcision conveys the principle of removing the flesh of our hearts graphically and symbolically. Our fleshly self-reliance is to be removed so we are left totally relying upon God. Just as circumcision is physically done by someone else, the circumcision of the heart is done by someone else, the Holy Spirit. Different expression, same eternal principle.


God did hint at this back in Leviticus 26:41–42 (NIV84) 41…then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham....


Levitical priesthood to believers’ priesthood


In Old Testament times only the Levite tribe can be priests. When Jesus died on the cross, He changed the priesthood. Jesus became the High Priest in Heaven while all believers became priests unto God. 1 Peter 2:5 (NIV84) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


The eternal principle: All God’s people are to serve His Kingdom and personally approach His throne as priests.

In the Old Testament priesthood was limited to a minority but now it has been broadened to all. The eternal principle: All God’s people are to serve His Kingdom and personally approach His throne as priests. That is why we don’t call our pastors priests. That is why we encourage every believer to serve God, because it is our priestly duty. There is no special hierarchy of leaders who stands as intermediary to Christ.


Ceremonial sacrifices to living sacrifices


In the Old Testament, all manner of sacrifices were given to God, both animal and grain by the Levitical priests. In the New Testament we give spiritual sacrifices through living for God. Romans 12:1 (NIV84) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.


Animal sacrifices has been elevated to sacrifices of the heart in the New Testament. The eternal principle: God seeks sacrificial living that is holy and pleasing to God, a sacrifice from the heart.

Animal sacrifices has been elevated to sacrifices of the heart in the New Testament. The eternal principle: God seeks sacrificial living that is holy and pleasing to God, a sacrifice from the heart.


Central Pattana is by far the biggest and most sophisticated developer and operator of shopping centres in Thailand. They operate 45 premium shopping centres, hotels and office buildings. Kobchai Chirathivat ran and grew the family business for many years. He was President and CEO as well as Director. Despite being a very busy businessman, he served God with great passion and dedication. He and his wife started ACTS church in Bangkok, one of our HIM churches. It is a large church today with many business people. Even though he is now in his mid-60s he is still as passionate about building God’s church! That is living a sacrificial life!



Conclusion


God is the God of covenants. God is the author of both the Two Covenants: The Old and new Testaments. Within these Testaments are conveyed God’s heart and purposes. Although the way it is conveyed can seem quite different, yet they all contain the same eternal principles that we can live by, be inspired and find life. Through it all we discover that God is seeking our hearts to be in the right place before Him, far more than our outward behaviours.


 

Copyright©️2022 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.


Your generosity helps further our mission to equip leaders.

Subscribe for updates!

Be the first to hear about new podcast episodes, blog posts, and more!

W&LL Profile Photo (resize)
Ask us anything related to our ministry focuses.