STUDY THE BIBLE COURSE Lesson 18: The Old and New Covenant?


Bob Thiel, Editor-in-Chief

Published 2020 by the Continuing Church of God

Preface: This course is highly based upon the personal correspondence course developed in 1954 that began under the direction of the late C. Paul Meredith in the old Radio Church of God. Various portions have been updated for the 21st century (though much of the original writing has been retained). It also has more scriptural references, as well as information and questions not in the original course. Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are to the KNJV, copyright Thomas Nelson Publishing, used by permission. The KJV, sometimes referred to as the Authorized Version is also often used. Additionally, Catholic-approved translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are sometimes used as are other translations.


Many have been taught that the Old Covenant was the ten commandment law, and that the New Covenant contains only grace and promises – but certainly no law!

Hence, runs the argument, since the Old Covenant has been abolished, God’s law has also been abolished.

This teaching would lead you to believe that the law of God was harsh, cruel, and enslaving – that the FAULT of the Old Covenant was with the law. And since GOD gave the law, the FAULT must have been His!

Later, according to this common teaching, Jesus came with a new covenant which had no law – only promises and LIBERTY TO DO WHATEVER YOU PLEASE.

Certainly, there is something terribly wrong with this concept!

Why Misunderstood

“OLD      TESTAMENT,”         “NEW TESTAMENT”      – DO these words MEAN anything to you?

You have  probably heard these two terms often during your lifetime. But as far as YOUR life is concerned, they haven’t meant very much to you, have they?

Yet the Bible, the very revelation of God to man, is composed of two great parts – which uninspired editors have labeled the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” And under these two headings ALL the books of the Bible are contained. Almost everyone knows that.

But few understand that these two division have great significance! God has permitted them to be the two GREAT DIVISIONS of His book, the Bible! The very Book which reveals His will to man.

Some ministers of this world do not understand the REAL meaning God intends these two parts to convey. This is the reason you probably have not understood them. These “ministers” cannot tell you what they themselves do not know!

But God’s Book, the Bible, DOES reveal the true meaning and importance of these two divisions to YOU. They are not difficult to understand. And there is NOTHING more important in your life than that you do understand them FULLY. Your salvation is closely linnked with how well you understand them (cf. Revelation 22:14-15).

THE “OLD TESTAMENT” and THE “NEW TESTAMENT” represent the very essence of the plan whereby God is fashioning man His supreme creation – very Sons of God to be BORN into His own Family!

Man Created Incomplete

God created man in the clay image of Himself, from the DUST of the ground.

But God NIT NOT, at the time of Adam, FINISH HIS CREATION of man! God only created Adam PHYSICALLY COMPLETE at that time. He did NOT, at that time, carry out the second step in His creation of man.

God did NOT complete man SPIRITUALLY!

Man will be God’s supreme SPIRITUAL creation only AFTER He has FINISHED creating him spiritually into the very CHARACTER “IMAGE” of God.

Exactly what was lacking in Adam? What is needed to COMPLETE man spiritually?

Let’s understand!

God did NOT place within man the loving SPIRITUAL attitude that He has – the ATTITUDE characteristic of His HOLY SPIRIT. God’s Holy Spirit imparts the SPIRITUAL love and power man needs to develop God’s character and fulfill His royal, SPIRITUAL law of love – the Ten Commandments.

But our loving and gracious God has promised that He will begin to SHARE His very own divine nature with us. He has PROMISED to do this by BEGETTING US with His Holy Spirit – PROVIDED that we will TRULY REPENT of disobeying His laws, completely SURRENDER OUR OWN WILLS to the will of God, have FAITH in the cleansing blood of Chris and are baptized. Then God will place His Holy Spirit of LOVE and POWER within us, thus making it possible for us to BEGIN DEVELOPING the very CHARACTER of God!

“God IS Love” – that is, His very NATURE IS LOVING! (1 John 4:8).

We are actually to PARTAKE FULLY of His divine NATURE at the resurrection – “by which has been given to us exceedingly GREAT and PRECIOUS promises, that through these you may BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE,” (2 Peter 1:4). THINK OF THAT!

How marvelous!

We may now be begotten of the Spirit of the Father. And when we are later “BORN AGAIN,” then we will be COMPLETELY composed of spirit – the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD. We will then be Gods – members of the God Kingdom – COMPOSED of God’s SPIRITUAL substance and nature by a new (our second) birth.

Yes, “GOD IS LOVE” (1 John 4:8). At the resurrection WE ALSO WILL BE LOVE. We will be then be the very PERSONIFICATION of love. We will then LIVE love – live by the royal law of love perfectly forever! (1 John 3:9). Then all our heartaches, sorrows and tears will be over.

God is now fashioning His spirit-begotten children for “good works” in preparations for that glorious event (Ephesians 2:10).

But fashioning us for good works is NOT EASY!


Two thousand years after the time of Adam, God made this statement concerning His people Israel, and all mankind: “Oh, that they had such a heart [such a NATURE] in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them” (Deuteronomy 5:29).

Notice that God says carnal man, of himself, does not have the ability – the character – to obey Him. WHY?

“Because the carnal mind [the mind with which we are born] is enmity against God [it HATES God’s law]; for it is not subject to the law of God …” (Romans 8:7).

The carnal mind which with we are born REFUSES to keep God’s LAW. This is the REASON why man does not keep the royal law of love. His HUMAN nature REBELS against it. But the Scripture goes even further!! Notice the words “NOR INDEED CAN BE” at the end of this same verse.

It is utterly IMPOSSIBEL for the CARNAL mind of man, of itself, to be subject to God’s Supreme SPIRITUAL law of love!

Do you understand?

It is only by the MIRACLE OF SPIRITUAL BEGETTAL that one can BEGIN to keep God’s law! But even then we still have to FIGHT against evil pulls of our carnal natures.

The apostle Paul, who was begotten by God’s Holy Spirit, recognized the continual evil pulls of his carnal nature. He wrote: “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:14-15, NLT).

Finally, Paul cried out, “O WRETCHED man that I am! Who will DELIVER me from this body of death?” (Verse 24). Paul knew that it would take a MIRACLE – direct FROM GOD HIMSELF – to COMPLETELY CHANGE his human NATURE so he could keep the law of God PERFECTLY! Paul knew that he was “WRETCHED” in his present carnal state. And then Paul, in exultation, ANSWERED his OWN question, “Who will DELIVER ME?” with the words, “I thank God – through Jesus Chris our Lord! (verse 25).

Paul knew that the MIRACLE of COMPLETELY CHANGING his carnal human nature so he could keep the spiritual law perfectly would be accomplished BY the Father’s Spirit THROUGH CHRIST, our Savior, at the resurrection.

But many argue that God did away with His law, so that man could NATURALLY – by his PRESENT CARNAL NATURE – do “good.” But God did no such thing!

We know from our previous lesson that God gave man His supreme spiritual law from the beginning. It has existed no later than Adam. God personally instructed the first man and woman in His law. And it was His desire that humans live in accordance with it from the beginning.

But it takes God’s Holy Spirit to obey His spiritual law! Paul knew that. AND PAUL KNEW IT TOOK THE POWER GOD’S SPIRIT TO COMPLETELY CHANGE MAN’S NATURE!

God’s Holy Spirit Needed

Man must LONG for this complete change WITH ALL HIS HEART. He must come to the point of being willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING if only this change would BEGIN to take place within him. He must come to the point where, like Christ, he will say to the Father, “NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL” (Matthew 26:39).


Man must SURRENDER himself to God so he can receive the LOVING NATURE of His Holy Spirit.

Man must be brought to the point where he can see he must VOLUNTARILY SURRENDER HIS OWN WILL SO that God can begin to COMPLETE man’s spiritual creation by placing His Holy Spirit within him. Then man will have the SPIRITUAL EQUIPMENT to be able to begin living by the royal law of God – the royal law of LOVE.

And when man is “born again” at the resurrection, it will be perfectly NATURAL for him to live by his new SPIRITUAL nature – just as it is NATURAL for unconverted people today to follow the dictates of their carnal natures.

THEN the creation of man will be COMPLETE! Man will be God’s FINISHED SPIRITUAL CREATION. Then he will HAVE all that he has longed for – true happiness, contentment, peace – for he will be living COMPLETELY within the law of love, and LOVE brings all these things and MORE!

But the carnal mind, with which we are born, is enmity towards God. It REBELS at the thought of allowing itself to be crushed out! Each of us have to have it PROVED that our carnal, unspiritual mind, with its human nature, cannot bring us the lasting happiness we seek.

It must be DEMONSTRATED to humans that it is IMPOSSIBLE for them, OF THEMSELVES, to keep the royal law of love. God did NOT promise to give them His Holy Spirit of love and power at that time so they could keep His laws.

Neve has God done away with His great SPIRITUAL law – the royal law of love. It is GOOD. The law stands fast FOREVER! It is the PEOPLE who have been WEAK, and therefore unable to keep God’s Ten Commandments!

WE are not about ready for the actual lesson. But first read the following instructions.

Before You Begin

This lesson is intended to direct you to the BIBLE – to help you learn the truth of God’s Word. Here is the method of study.

Is your Bible in front of you? If not, get your Bible – or Bibles, if you have more than one translation – BEFORE YOU CONTINUE WITH THIS LESSON! Have a good dictionary, a concordance if you own one, and your notepaper all placed in front of you on a desk or table. Remember – you are to open your Bible to EVERY passage. Never say to yourself, “Oh, I think I know what the lesson is referring to” – and then pass over the scripture. You need to “KEEP YOUR NOSE IN THE BIBLE,” so to speak. You must read and reread and think out each passage. MEDITATE on the new knowledge you will learn during your leisure time, especially within the following twenty-four hours, and in your time of prayer – so you WON’T FORGET IT! Make God’s Word a PART OF YOU! Don’t forget that this is a BIBLE study course – not just a study of the lessons we send you.

Here is how to make effective notes: Write down neatly on your paper the title of the lesson and underscore it. Next write down the lesson number. Then as you come to each question section, write down its heading. Then, underneath, number each question as you come to it. For each question write down the answer from your Bible, together with any pertinent ideas that come to your mind.

Be SURE to WRITE OUT the scripture which answers each question. Writing down every word of each Bible passage, and any comments you wish to make as you go along, will help you in REVIEWING and remember later on.

This lesson, like all others, is extremely important to you. Have you PRAYRED to God for understanding? if not, go now to a private place, kneel down, and ask Him for spiritual UNDERSTANDING and wisdom. Ask God to HELP YOU GRASP and APPLY the knowledge this lesson will reveal to you in the Bible!

And now for the lesson itself!

Lesson 18

Difference between a Covenant and a Testament

1. What is a covenant?

Consult your dictionary, noticing in particular whether there are two (or more) parties involved, and if each agrees to do (or refrain from) something. Is it an AGREEMENT? Death of one of the parties is not mentioned as a requirement of a COVENANT, is it?

COMMENT: A covenant is an AGREEMENT. Death of one or the other parties does NOT enter into the terms of a covenant.

2. Did God make a CONVENANT with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 7)?

COMMENT: In verse one we see that God di make an agreement with Abraham. “Get out of your country” was the requirement Abraham had to fulfill as his part of the covenant. IF Abraham would obey, then God, in turn, bound Himself to make of Abraham’s seed – Abraham’s descendants – a great nation (Genesis 12:2). No DEATH had to take place to make this COVENANT binding. It was a COVENANT – an agreement – pure and simple: “You do this and I will do that.”

3. Now what is a TESTAMENT? Again consult your dictionary.

COMMENT: We find that a TESTAMENT IS A TYPE OF COVENANT OR WILL. A will declares a person’s WILL as to the disposal of their POSSESSIONS after their DEATH. So, note that a DEATH IS INVOLVED in a WILL, but NOT necessarily in a COVENANT. Christ left, at His death, a will – a TESTAMENT – in which all people may become beneficiaries or heirs of His possessions. For it was to the ONE seed – CHRIST – to whom this earth was given as an inheritance (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16-19).

Christ was the only One who ever obeyed God’s Law perfectly and could claim the earth as an inheritance. So it was He who could, and did, leave a TESTAMENT or WILL at His death so that we may also receive, through Him, eternal inheritance of the earth (Hebrews 9:15-16).

Review in Lesson 13, the sections “How Christ Made Our Inheritance Possible,” and “What We Must Do.” These show how we may become Abraham’s heirs through Christ.

Some (like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and many Protestants) teach that the old covenant was the Ten Commandments, and that the new covenant means that those same commandments are done away or obsolete based on their interpretation of Hebrew 8:13. Yet, look at the verses that immediately follow Hebrews 8:13 as they show what the Bible states was the first (the old) covenant:

1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went along once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience – 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, carious washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:1-10)

The old covenant, then, consisted of the ordinances of the Levitical priesthood, washings, and fleshly ordinances like animal sacrifices. While it did include the words of the ten commandments (Exodus 34:28), they were not the part that Hebrews 9 discussed were abolished.

God’s Covenant with Ancient Israel

1. God promised to make of Abraham’s offspring a great nation (Genesis 12:1-2). God also covenanted with Abraham that if he and his offspring would be obedient, they would have the land of Canaan (Palestine) for an EVERLASTING possession (Genesis 17:8-9). What was the name of Abraham’s sons (Genesis 21:2-4)?

2. Was one of Isaac’s sons named JACOB? (Genesis 27:22). Was his name changed to ISRAEL? (Genesis 32:28). Did Israel have many sons (1 Chronicles 2:1,2)? Were these therefore the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (same verses)?

COMMENT: Israel (Jacob) and his twelve sons and their families journeyed down into Egypt. THERE God multiplied them and made of them a GREAT NATION, just as He had promised (Genesis 46:1-3; 47:27). They became the “nation of Israel.”

The Egyptians, among whom the original family of Israel sought refuge from famine, gradually became their captors and the Israelites became their slaves. By many miracles of God, they were finally set free, and God made them a pathway through the Red Sea so that they could escape the Egyptians who suddenly pursued them (Exodus 14:21-31).

3 Did God, after leading the Israelites out of the Egypt (the land typical of sin and evil) and starting them toward the “Promised Land” of Palestine, bring them to Mount Sinai (exodus 19:1, 3, 11)? Did God there offer to make a COVENANT with them (verses 3-6)?

4. Did God, THROUGH MOSES, tell the people of Israel what their part of this AGREEMENT must be (exodus 19:5)? Did He say that they would have to be OBEDIENT (same verse)? And if they would thus keep their part of this COVENANT, what did He promise them they would become (last part of verse 5 and all of verse 6)?

COMMENT: This covenant proposed by God to the Israelites is the most well-known covenant before the time of Christ. Its terms and conditions extend from Exodus 19:1 through Exodus 24:8.

When the Bible was translated into Latin, the Latins used the words “testamentum” which, in LATIN, means either a covenant or a testament. Later, the Bible was translated into English, and the Latin word “testamentum” was UNFORTUNATELY continued as the English word TESTAMENT – which in ENGLISH often only means a WILL. And that is part of why the part of the Bible containing the Old Covenant is NOT titled THE OLD CONVENANT as perhaps it could be called today.

Did God make the conditional promise that Israel would be a “peculiar treasure” to Him, and be “above all people” (Exodus 19:5)? And that they would be a “kingdom of priests” and a “holy nation” (verse 6)? Aren’t these very desirable promises?

COMMENT: The ancient Israelites desired to be God’s “kingdom of priests” and “a holy nation.” But THEY NEVER RECEIED THESE PROMISES because they did not obey God! Instead, we find that these promises will be fulfilled in the Millennium in the SAINTS who will have been born of the HOLY SPIRIT into God’s Kingdom – with the POWER and NATURE by which they will keep the law PERFECTLY. (Review in Lesson 5, the section titled “Duties of the Saints”).

God simply did not make the HOLY SPIRIT of POWER and LOVE available to the WORLD in Old Covenant times (John 7:38-39)!

Israel Though They Could Keep the Covenant

1. WERE THE ISRAELITES so certain of their OWN ABILITY to do all God required of them, that they immediately promised Moses that all the Eternal had spoken they would do (Exodus 19:8)?

COMMENT: God had just finished informing the Israelites, through Moses, what He would require of the people, in a broad sense. And they readily affirmed that they would do THEIR PART of this covenant.

2. Did God inform Moses that He Himself would come down to the people on the third day (Exodus 19:11)? Did God at this time inform them that they would have to keep the Ten Commandments in order to fulfill THEIR PART of His covenant? Note Exodus 20:1 especially. Read also verses 2 through 17. Read of the same event in Deuteronomy 5:4-22. And did God, with His own finger, write these commandments on tables of stone for the people (Deuteronomy 5:22 and Exodus 31:18)?

3. After God has spoken the Ten Commandments which they were to obey as a DISTINCT part of this covenant, did He instruct Moses to set before the people the various civil statutes and judgements as another DISTINCT PART of this same “Old Covenant,” which they also had to follow? Exodus, chapters 21 through 23. Skim RAPIDLY over these three chapters to get the GENERAL trend.

COMMENT: The eternal, spiritual law – the royal law of love WHICH IS COMPOSED OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS  was clearly laid out for the Israelites, consistent with what God had revealed form the beginning. The Ten Commandments comprised a DISTINCT PART of the Old Covenant which God made with Israel at that time. The old covenant did not establish the spiritual laws.

In Exodus 16:28 we read that the Eternal, when speaking about Israel to Moses, said: “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?” Israel could not refuse what did not exist! Now turn to Exodus 18:16. Moses told his father-in-law that when the people have a dispute, “I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.”

After writing the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone in Exodus 20, in Exodus chapters 21 through 23, God revealed to Moses the various APPLICATIONS of the Ten Commandments. These were in the form of civil statues and judgments which were to be another distinct part of, and included in, the Old Covenant which the people had agreed to obey. God had Moses write these civil statutes and judgments in a book called the “Book of the Covenant” (Exodus 24:4, 7).

4. Were the people any less certain of being able to fulfill, BY THEIR OWN POWER, all the laws revealed by God? – did they agree to this covenant (Exodus 24:3-7)? Was it ratified, or sealed – made binding – with blood (verse 8)? COMMENT: The Old-Covenant Israelites had no promise of receiving the Holy Spirit – the very POWER and NATURE OF GOD which would have enabled them to keep the law. They did not REALIZE THEIR LACK OF THIS POWER when they agreed to the terms of the Old Covenant. THEY NEEDED HELP, BUT DIDN’T REALIZE IT!

AND PEOPLE TODAY DESPERATELY NEED HELP! But they don’t realize this fact EITHER!

The HOLY SPIRIT of POWER IS NOW available! It is time that the world WAKE UP to this truth!

Notice how God began to impress this fact upon THE WORLD.

The “Ministration of Death”

1. Among the judgements in the Old Covenant, was there a set that called for an “eye for an eye,” and a “tooth for a tooth,” and a “life for a life” (Exodus 21:23, 24, KJV)? COMMENT: The judgment in verse 23 was especially designed to protect pregnant women (verse 22). A man who had caused the death of a pregnant woman had to pay for it with his own life. So if the judge required the killer’s LIFE, then the judge was ADMINISTERING a penalty of DEATH, wasn’t he? And isn’t this therefore a MINISTRY OF DEATH? Of course it is!

2. What was the penalty for a person who had committed a murder (Exodus 21:12)? Again, the judge had ADMINISTERED DEATH. Does the New Testament call this same set of judgments the “ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3:6-8)?

3. Does the Bible say the “ministration of death” was glorious (2 Corinthians 3:7, KJV)? WHY was the “ministration of death” glorious (1 Corinthians 10:11)?

COMMENT: Because the principles of the TEN COMMANDMENTS formed the basis of the civil statutes and judgments, a violation of these PRINCIPLES WAS punished by Old Covenant civil authority.

The administration of death was the civil execution of punishment for violation of certain laws in the civil law code which Moses spoke to the people. Such sins as murder, kidnaping and adultery were punishable by DEATH.


Israel sinned constantly, and was constantly reminded of it! Their history is a LESSON to us, today (1 Corinthians 10:11), to make us also REALIZE our weakness and need of DIVINE power in overcoming our NATURES. THIS IS why the ministry of death was GLORIOUS. It accomplished a GLORIOUS purpose.

Old Covenant Israel did not have God’s Holy Spirit of love with which to keep the law of God in its SPIRITUAL intent. All they could possibly do was TRY to keep the law in the LETTER by their OWN HUMAN power.

Had the Israelites kept the law in the letter, God would have fulfilled His part of the Old Covenant and given them all the MATERIAL promises of this MATERIAL covenant. But they would never have received eternal life by keeping this covenant. One would still ultimately die eternal death because there was ABSOLUTELY NO PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE IN THE OLD COVENANT! For it is only the Spirit – the HOLY SPIRIT of God – that will give “life” – ETERNAL life (2 Corinthians 3:6)!

The “ministry of death” was a TEMPORARY administration – it existed only “till the seed [Christ] should come” (Galatians 3:19). At this time God sent Christ to introduce a NEW ADMINISTRATION of these same laws – THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SPIRIT (2 Corinthians 3:6-8).

Why? Because the first administration gave only severe penalties and even DEATH for disobedience. Human judges could not impart eternal life; they could only administer death. What was needed was a new administration of the SAME LAWS – an administration which could give pardon and eternal life to those who repented of breaking God’s laws and wanted to obey.

The promise of the Holy Spirit – the only hope of eternal life – was given to all believers for the FIRST TIME on the Day of Pentecost, c. 31 A.D. (Acts 2:1, 38). Instead of administering the death penalty for sins, Christ, the apostles, and HIS MINISTERS TODAY TEACH THE PEOPLE THE WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE. Thus, Christ’s ministers “ADMINISTER” LIFE to mortal man.

Now let’s look at some of what the Apostle Paul wrote:

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. (2 Corinthians 3:7-9)

Someone referring to that made false claim:

Reference is made here to a code that was “engraved in letters in stones” and it is said that “the sons of Israel could not gaze intently at the face of Moses” on the occasion when it was delivered to them. What is this describing? Exodus 34:1 shows that it is the giving of the Ten Commandments; these were the commandments engraved on stone. Obviously these are included in what the scripture here says “was to be done away with.”

Two points: First, there was a change from the Levitical ministry and its animal sacrifices. Second, the ministry of death included the written death penalty, which was NOT listed on the tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments. The administration of death was inscribed on large stones after crossing the Jordan (Deuteronomy 27:2-8). As far as engraving or inscribing laws, commandments, statutes, and judgments goes (Deuteronomy 26:16-18), this was basically done on large stones that had a type of white plaster on them (cf. Deuteronomy 27:2, KJV).

A Marriage Covenant

Many have asked: “Why didn’t Jesus Christ ever marry?” The fact is He did marry! Your Bible says so! The Bible even names His wife. It tells us when and where and why He married!

Surprising? Yes! But it has been in your Bible all these years! It has DIRECTLY to do with the two covenants!

Let’s understand.

Jesus Chris is the Father’s Spokesman – the “Word” of the God Family. Remember that Jesus is the “LORD” of the Old Testament – the One who did the speaking at creation. God the Father planned the universe and Jesus – before His human birth – spoke, and the creation was done by the power of the Spirit of God. Jesus – the Word – therefore created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). He made the first man and woman. And He established the MARRIAGE relationship (Genesis 2:21-25).

Many years later this same Jesus Chris – who ordained marriage in the beginning – WAS HIMSELF MARRIED!

Here is what happened!

1. Was it Jesus Christ, the “LORD,” who spoke the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai? Exodus 20:1-2. It could not have been the Father who spoke these words, could it? Didn’t Jesus say no man had ever heard the voice of God the Father (John 5:37)?

COMMENT: The Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai by Jesus Christ. And Israel entered into a covenant with Jesus Christ before His human birth.

2. Did the LORD Jesus Christ consider this covenant between Himself and Israel a MARRIAGE CONTRACT, OR AGREEMENT? Ezekiel 16:8. read also Jeremiah 31:32. Note the word HUSBAND. Notice the “I do” agreement made by the “wife” – Israel – to her “Husband,” Christ, in Exodus 19:8 and Exodus 24:7.

COMMENT: Now you see that the Old Covenant was TYPICAL of a marriage contract between a man and woman. It was, SYMBOLICALLY speaking, a MARRIAGE agreement between the Lord of the Old Covenant and the nation – the ancient church  – of Israel. The people of Israel ACCEPTED the terms that God gave them. They bound themselves by the Old Covenant to refrain from any ADULTEROUS or WHORISH RELATIONS with the false “gods” of other nations – and to remain chaste and acceptable to their own “husband” – Christ (Exodus 34:12-17).

In other words, Israel agreed not to WORSHIP the false gods of the Gentiles and to be OBEDIENT to the Lord Christ!

3. In the space of at least nine short months after Israel had agreed to the covenant, the people had failed so badly to live by the conditions of the covenant that the LORD Christ, her “husband,” found it necessary to CORRECT His “wife.” What did He say? – did He first remind Israel of the covenant they had agreed to keep (Leviticus 26:1-3)?

“If you will not obey the voice of the Lord … Cursed shall you be in the city, and the field … The Lord will smite you with drought … and with ulcers of which you cannot be healed” (Deuteronomy 28:15-16, 22, 27, RSV).

4. Then did He point out the BLESSINGS that the congregation of Israel, His wife, could have IF they would live by the law they agreed to keep? (Read Leviticus 26:4-13). But if they would not obey, what did He warn would happen to them (read verses 14 through 39)?

COMMENT: Notice also in Jeremiah 3:14 that the LORD Christ commanded Israel, His wife: “Return, O backsliding children, … for I AM MARRIED TO YOU!”

There you have it. Jesus was SYMBOLICALLY married to the congregation of Israel – and the marriage covenant, or agreement, is known today as the “Old Covenant”!

Some ministers claim Israel was married to the Law! NOT so! Individuals don’t marry a code of laws – individuals marry other individuals!

Based on Law

1. What, according to your Bible, brings the death penalty upon us? Is it the law – or is it SIN? (Romans 6:23). Who is responsible for sin? – the law, or the SINNER (Galatians 6:7-8 and Romans 6:16)?

COMMENT: The sinner is RESPONSIBLE. He earns the wages of sin – death! Those who hate God’s law would have you think the law is IMPOSSIBLE to keep! This spirit of anti-Chris (1 John 4:1-3) would make Christians law-breakers! It denies that Christ kept the law perfectly when He came in human flesh! If this false notion is true – you have NO SAVIOUR!

2. How does the apostle Paul clarify the marriage relationship? (Romans 7:1-4). Is Paul explaining the law in regard to a marriage contract (verses 1-2)?

3. How are a husband and wife bound – isn’t it BY THE LAW? Verse 2. When is a marriage contract dissolved – at the DEATH of one of the parties? Same verse.

COMMENT: Notice: the wife is bound TO HER HUSBAND “BY THE LAW”! Only the death of her husband can dissolve the marriage contract which is governed by law. The law doesn’t stop when the husband dies, but the marriage covenant which was based upon the law is dissolved.

Jesus Christ made a marriage covenant – the Old Covenant – with ancient Israel at Sinai. The contract was based upon and governed by the terms and conditions of God’s law. When Christ – the “husband” – died at Golgotha, His marriage contract with ancient Israel was dissolved, but the law upon which it was based continues!

Obviously Jesus didn’t do away with God’s law at His death. It was our sins, the breaking of God’s perfect law, that DID AWAY WITH HIM! He accepted the death penalty we incurred FOR us. And so OUR SINS TOOK HIS PERFECT LIFE!

4. Doesn’t Paul say that Christians are to MARRY someone (Romans 7:4)? Who will converted Christians marry? – Jesus Christ who is now resurrected? Same verse.

COMMENT: Christ, who was “husband” to physical Israel under the Old Covenant before His death on the stake, will be “HUSBAND” to spiritual Israel (God’s true Church “born again” at the resurrection) under the terms of the New Covenant. Both covenants are marriage agreements – both are governed by the same terms and conditions – God’s spiritual law! (The New Covenant will be thoroughly explained in the next lesson).

‘Rigmarole of Rituals’ Added Later

1. The Israelites, being WITHOUT the Spirit of God, were constantly rebelling–sinning–against Christ, their husband, and the law He had given them (read Ezekiel 20:13). What did God do, because of this rebellion, to IMPRESS upon them the weakness of their own inherent nature in respect to keeping the law? – did He ADD TEMPORARY ritualistic laws for them to keep (Leviticus 1:1-9)?

COMMENT: These new laws WOULD HAVE BEEN UNNECESSARY if Israel had obeyed. The Israelites brought these upon themselves because of their disobedience to God’s Ten Commandments and His statutes. These rituals were added to TEACH them A LESSON AFTER they began to act DISOBEDIENTLY.

When a husband and wife perform their “vows” of marriage, the wife promises to OBEY her husband. But the SPECIFIC things she is to obey are not mentioned at the time of marriage. At that time she promises to have the ATTITUDE of obedience. As problems come up in their married life, the husband may tell the wife other things she must do.

The same is true of the marriage of God to Israel. God, the husband, ADDED these new TEMPORARY ritualistic laws in accordance with the terms of the original Old Marriage Covenant agreement AFTER ancient Israel had begun to transgress. And she, as a wife, was bound by her marriage “vow” to obey them as a wife is to obey her husband.

But ancient Israel continued to be disobedient and unfaithful to her husband. She broke her part of the marriage contract! She turned from worshipping God, and followed the customs of the heathen – serving other gods. She broke her part of the marriage covenant by committing SPIRITUAL “adultery.”

2. What did all these NEW, temporary laws, which were commanded after the Israelites began to break the covenant they had made with God, command them to do? Skim rapidly over chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Leviticus just to get the GENERAL TREND of thought.

COMMENT: When God made His covenant with ancient Israel, He wrote the Ten Commandments on two tables of STONE. At that time He also had Moses write His civil statutes and judgments in a book. But this book did NOT, at first, contain the rigmarole of laws of burnt offerings, sacrifices and washings. They were ADDED LATER – within two years – as a SEPARATE PART of the civil statutes because the Israelites had begun to transgress God’s law.

The keeping of these ritualistic laws REQUIRED MUCH LABORIOUS WORK, as can be seen by the first three chapters of Leviticus. That’s why it came to be known as “The law of WORKS” in New Testament times.

Man’s Human Weakness Impressed Upon Him

1. Doesn’t Jeremiah 7:22-23 also verify the fact that this rigmarole of ritualistic laws was added after the Israelites had begun to transgress the Ten Commandments and various statutes God gave them at Sinai? Doesn’t Galatians 3:19 also prove this?

2. Then what was the PURPOSE of all the hard work of making burnt offerings, performing various washings, and making various other sacrifices (Galatians 3:24)? Was it a TUTOR? Same verse. How was it a “tutor”?

COMMENT: Remember that the law that is being spoken of HERE is the law that was ADDED (Galatians 3:19). It was the burdensome sacrificial law that God had Moses ADD AFTER the Israelites were beginning to show they could NOT keep merely the LETTER of the law. How WEAK they PROVED to be!

Each time an Israelite transgressed the law, his sin – if not punishable by death – now had to be acknowledged with BURDENSOME work. Yet, even this work could not forgive the sin, but served only to REMIND them of their transgression of God’s laws and the penalty for sin – death. Paul refers to this added labor as “works” (Galatians 2:16). This consisted of a rigmarole of sin offerings, washings, and other laborious and time-consuming rituals so they would REALIZE their INHERENT WEAKNESS and inability to do what God’s other laws required.

Each time an Israelite transgressed the law and his sin had to be atoned for by burdensome work, it impressed upon his mind that he had FAILED to keep the law. It acted as a “tutor” to teach and impress this upon him.

The sacrifices were also a “tutor” in that they pointed forward to the time when Christ would come to offer Himself once and for all time to atone for the sins of the world. The various washings pictured the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit which Christ would send to clean us up from sin. They pointed to the time when Christ would make it possible for all to have the love and POWER of God’s Holy Spirit within them so they, unlike the ancient Israelites and others then and today, can keep the spiritual law of God – the Ten Commandments.

Consider that when God brought Israel to the foot of Mt. Sinai, He gave the Ten Commandments to them. He allowed Moses to declare all the statues and judgments to Israel (Exodus, chapters 20-24). These statutes and judgments MAGNIFY the Ten Commandments.

Now notice carefully. There is only one sacrifice mentioned in that book of the law-the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 23:18). God called it “MY sacrifice.” Next, turn to Jeremiah 7:22-23. Listen to what the Eternal inspired Jeremiah to write: “For in the day that I brought them our of the land of Egypt, I DID NOT SPEAK . . . OR COMMAND them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this COMMAND I GAVE THEM: ‘Obey my voice . . . and walk in ALL THAT WAY THAT I COMMAND YOU, that is may be well with you.’ ”

God did not command these sacrifices to be offered originally. This explains why none of those temporary sacrifices were perpetuated by different symbols in the New Testament Church. ONLY THE SYMBOLS TODAY – because it began before the old covenant was made. (See its institution in Exodus 12 before the Israelites left Egypt).

The very fact that Jesus substituted unleavened bread and wine for the Passover lamb only, and not for the temporary offerings, is absolute proof that the ceremonial old testament offerings are not binding today! – but that the Passover is binding! Paul says (Gal. 3:19) these temporary rituals and sacrifices were “added because of transgression” – because God’s spiritual law was being broken – until Christ should come. They foreshadowed the sacrifices of Christ and were a “reminder of sin” to teach people the need of the Messiah who would pay the penalty of human transgression (Hebrews 10:3).

Notice that these temporary laws did not define sin. They were reminders of sin. God’s spiritual laws define sin. The laws which define sin – which explain what sin is – these laws we are to keep today.

The old sacrificial laws, which were added to the other statutes God had Moses write, are NO LONGER required to be fulfilled by humans today. Instead, Chris has become our sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29) as explained above.

Consider for a moment the New Testament instructions about sacrifices.

Today we have spiritual offerings and sacrifices: “Ye . . . are being built unto a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” wrote Peter (see I Peter 2:5 and 9). We are to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well-pleasing to God, your spiritual service” (Romans 12:1).

It is a spiritual principle to offer oneself in living obedience – to sacrifice the self – to God. God Almighty is worthy to receive such service from us.

The principle of offering sacrifices existed before Moses. Christ volunteered to offer Himself from the beginning to pay for the sins of mankind. In the period from Moses to Christ the practice of giving offerings was reduced to a physical plane. The children of Israel were a  physical, carnal people without the promise of the Holy Spirit. They could not offer themselves in spiritual obedience to God (Deut. 29:4), so they performed ritualistic washings and offered animals and other physical types instead.

They also needed to be reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice, so God gave them physical types in the “law of Moses,” “until the seed should come.” But remember, the spiritual sacrifices of which those in the law of Moses were merely temporary types-are still to be offered up by us today!

“But,” many ask, “weren’t the Levitical sacrifices ordained forever?” Yes, the Bible does say that the Levitical priesthood and its sacrifices were to be perpetual or forever. But let us understand the real significance of the Hebrew word translated “forever.” It means continuous, so long as the factors involved exist.

Notice three scriptures where this meaning is made plain. Men could be the slaves of a master forever – meaning till the death of one of the parties (see Exodus 21:6; Lev. 25:46; Deut. 15:17).

What are the factors which may limit the offering of sacrifices? One, the need of a physical, human priesthood. Two, the need for sacrifices.

Now considered what is the purpose of a priesthood? To offer sacrifices and to act on behalf of people in relation to God (Hebrews 5:1 and 8:3). But how long do offerings as reminders of sin need to be made? Paul tells us: “Now where remission of [sins) is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).

To offer sacrifices as reminders of sins already paid for by Jesus, who gave His life in full payment for all sins, is needless. Moreover, SINCE THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS ALOS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE, PHYSICAL OFFERINGS AND VARIOUS WASHINGS WHICH ARE TYPES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE NO LONGER NEEDED. HENCE THE PHSYICAL LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD IS NO LONGER NECESSARY – the old testament washings and offerings are no longer binding. The factors involved in the law of Moses ceased to exist.

But the great spiritual law of God, THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE – as given to Adam and Eve, with its ten points, and later repeated and amplified by civil statutes at Mount Sinai – stands fast forever (Psalms 111:7-8)!

But we desperately need God’s HELP to keep it! REMEMBER THIS! If Old-Covenant Israel had received the Holy Spirit which imparts the love needed to fulfill the law of God (Romans 5:5; 13:10), they would have been able to keep these laws. BUT nowhere in the Old Covenant can you find where God’s Holy Spirit of love and power was promised to these people (e.g. 1 Samuel 16:13; Jeremiah 1:5).

God asked the Old-Covenant Israelites to keep the law – the ten spiritual commandments He gave them – ONLY IN THE LETTER. He required no more than the fulfilling of the law in the LETTER to receive the material promises of the Old Covenant.

This Old Covenant contained only MATERIAL PROMISES. Promises of material blessings such as wealth, health, crops, etc. –IF they would obey God.

This Covenant per se was NATIONAL – to Israel only – no other nations were promised these blessings. It was TEMPORAL –there were NO promise of ETERNAL life if they obeyed God in the letter.

The Old Covenant, then, was NATIONAL, MATERIAL, and TEMPORAL.

3. Did God offer the material benefits of this material Old Covenant to many succeeding generations of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:9)?

4. But to a new generation, 40 years later (Numbers 32:8-13), was God STILL FINDING IT NECESSARY to point out the blessings for being obedient to the law (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)? Did HE still find it necessary to warn them of what would happen if they did not obey (verses 15-68)? Scan these verses and summarize.

5. Were other nations (the Gentiles) to rule over Israel if they broke their part of this covenant (Leviticus 26:14, 17, 33)?

6. Did the House of Israel keep the Old Covenant, or were the people scattered among the Gentiles as a punishment for not keeping the Old Covenant (Ezekiel 20:23, 24 and 11:16)? HOW LONG did God give the people of Israel TO LEARN to keep His law without His Holy Spirit, before He scattered them?

COMMENT: These people were given every incentive to live by the law. For over SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS they were given this chance. But THEY FAILED!

Their failure is a LESSON TO ALL PEOPLE. God wants us to learn from it.

They were NO different from people today. WE ALSO DESPERATELY NEED GOD’S MIRACULOUS HELP!!

Posted in Bible Study Course
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The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.