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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - A Better Covenant

Derek Prince - A Better Covenant

Derek Prince - A Better Covenant
TOPICS: Hebrews Bible Study, New Covenant

The second difference is the Old Covenant ended in rejection by God. The New ends in permanent acceptance. We'll illustrate both those facts from the prophet Hosea. If you want to turn there to Hosea 1 and we'll only look at verse 9 although you really need to see the context. Hosea's wife had just given birth to a son and as with various children of the prophets he was given a name which had a message. The Lord said, 'Name him Lo-ammi [Lo-ammi in Hebrew means 'not my people'] for you are not My people and I am not your God.' God there rejected the people and said, 'You don't belong to Me, and I don't belong to you.' However, thank God that isn't the last chapter of Hosea.

In chapter 2 there comes the promise of a new and eternal covenant and it's found in verse 16. We need to note that in the two previous verses, verses 14 and 15, the Lord has indicated how He intends to deal with Israel to bring them back into a relationship with Himself. He says He will allure them, and bring them into the wilderness. The word allure is a word that suggests the possibility of a very intimate relationship. Then He says He will give them the valley of Achor for a door of hope. Achor is 'trouble.' The phrase 'a door of hope' in modern Hebrew is pethach tiqvah, which is the name of a major suburb of Tel Aviv. The Jewish people have seen their return to the land as the door of hope which God promised to open to them. I'd like to point out to you that that is one of the ways God deals with people, not just Israel. He allures us, He entices us.

Then we find ourselves in the valley of trouble and we say, 'Lord, how did I get here, and why have You brought me here?' Then the Lord says, 'But I'll open for you out of the valley of trouble a door of hope.' That's a principle of God's dealings. I'm sure there are many of us here this evening who could look back on experiences where the Lord enticed us and we ended up in the valley of trouble, and said, 'What's happened?' Then it turns out the Lord had a secret door that we didn't know about called the door of hope. That's the beginning of this promise of reconciliation. We go on reading now in Hosea 2. Some of the most beautiful words, I think, that are found anywhere. 'And it will come about in that day,' declares the LORD, 'that you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali.'

That's very hard to translate. Both the word Ish, and the word Baal can mean 'husband.' But Baal also means 'owner' or 'master' and, of course, it was also the name of an alien god that Israel was often enticed into worshiping. It had some bad associations. But, it was the regular word under the Old Covenant for a husband. God says when we come into the New Covenant there'll be a new kind of relationship with you and Me. No longer will I be your Baal, your master, but I will be your Ish, which is your man, your husband. It's very hard to go into all the associations of those two words, but it speaks about a more intimate, personal relationship. I think it would be true probably to say that whereas when the word Baal is used, it was legitimate under the Old Covenant for a man to have more than one wife.

I think when the word Ish is used it probably implies a monogamous relationship. Verse 17 we might as well read. 'For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more.' I'd like to point out to you, incidentally, that there's a lot said in the Bible about not taking the names of alien gods on your lips. I think that applies to us. I think there are some words that we'd just better not use. They're not swear words, but they're just God dishonoring words. I'm not going to give examples but I've often heard Christians speak casually and lightly even about human personalities. I think we need to be careful of the names that pass our lips. Going on in verse 18: 'In that day I will also make a covenant for them [that's Israel] with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping things of the ground.'

That's an exciting thought to me. 'And I will abolish [or break] the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety.' Obviously that has not yet happened. Then we come to this new relationship. 'I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, then you will know the LORD.' The word betroth speaks of a marriage relationship. Verse 21: 'And it will come about in that day that I will respond,' declares the LORD. 'I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, and the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.' Jezreel is the great, big plain that's just east of Megiddo, southwest of Nazareth, west of the mountains of Gilboa.

Those of you that have visited Israel, you have doubtless seen the plain of Jezreel. It's usually believed to be the probable scene of the last great battle, the battle of Armageddon. For many, many centuries it was an uncultivated swamp that produced nothing but malaria. Then when the Jewish people returned, they bought that land back from Arab landlords, who were absentee landlords, for large sums of money and began to cultivate it again. Today it is a very beautiful, lush, fertile area. Perhaps the most fertile area in Israel. And when I read this passage it becomes to vivid to me because in my mind's eye I can see the plain of Jezreel right now. The Lord says, 'Jezreel will cry out to the earth for grain, and new wine, and oil. The earth will cry out to the heavens, and the heavens will cry out to Me. I will answer their cry.'

You can picture the plain of Jezreel lying there desolate, uncultivated, uncared for, for centuries, but crying out for the crops that should be there, and the crops crying out to the earth, and the earth crying out to the heaven, the heaven forwarding the message to God. Of course, it's typical biblical imagery, but it's so very vivid. Then we go on to the reconciliation of Israel, verse 23: 'And I will sow her for Myself in the land.' And the name Jezreel means 'God will sow.' So God takes that name and says, 'I will sow Israel back in that land.' 'I also will have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,...' If you go back to the previous chapter, one of the daughters of Hosea's wife was called Lo-ruhamah which means 'not having obtained mercy.' But the Lord says, 'I will now call her Ruhamah' meaning 'having obtained mercy.' '...and I will say to those who were not My people, you are My people!'

Whereas He had said Lo-ammi, 'not My people'; now He says ammi, 'My people.' That's a very favorite name for a boy in contemporary Israel. 'And they will say, 'Thou art my God!'' So there's a picture in chapter 1 of the rejection under the Old Covenant and in chapter 2 of thepermanent acceptance under the New. If you look in verses 19'20 you'll see the emphasis is on the permanence. God says: 'I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.' I think we need to also bear in mind that the, shall I say, the end purpose of the marriage relationship is for the man to know his wife and the wife to know the husband. The Lord has that in mind when He speaks about restoring this relationship with Israel and He said it will be a marriage relationship in which I will know you and you will know Me. We'll look back in Hebrews a little later and see that's one of the essential features of the New Covenant. We can look straight on here in our outline.

Point number three, we're back on Page 8/2. Under the Old Covenant it required continual, mutual exhortation without direct access to God. They were continually saying to one another, 'Know the LORD.' I think, in a sense, that's still true of religious Jews today. They're continually saying, 'Know the LORD' but they don't know Him. But the New Covenant provides direct access to and knowledge of God for all. Look in Hebrews 8 again because that's important. Hebrews 8:11: 'They shall not teach every one his fellow citizen, and every one his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.' In the promise of reconciliation in Hosea 2, 'Then you will know Me.'

You see, one of the themes of Hebrews is perfection or maturity and that implies direct access to God. That's within the second veil, the Holy of Holies, that's the destination of Hebrews. Anything that stops short of direct access to and knowledge of God is inadequate. If you look back to Hebrews 7:19: Hebrews 7:19: (for the law made nothing perfect), [notice perfect is what we're after] and on the other hand [through the New Covenant] there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Or 'through which we have access to God.' Notice perfection and access to God are in the same category and in terms of the tabernacle' they're both within the second veil. Any covenant that does not achieve that is inadequate, it hasn't met the need.

Going back to our outline now we see the Old required continual, mutual exhortation without direct access to God. The New provides direct access to and knowledge of God for all. We could, in that context, just look at the words of Jesus in John 17:3. John 17:3: 'This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.' Again, Jesus is speaking about direct, personal access to and knowledge of God. He said, 'This is eternal life.' Less than that is not eternal life. That's the purpose of the New Covenant, to give us that direct person-to-person access to and knowledge of God which is eternal life. Going back to our outline, 8/2.

Point number four, the Old Covenant provided only a continual reminder and temporary covering of sins. The New provides final forgiveness and blotting out of even the memory of sins. Concerning the first point, let's look in Hebrews 10:3. Hebrews 10:3: But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. It's very, very important to see that. That's the most the sacrifices of the Old Covenant could accomplish'they reminded people every year of their sins and provided a temporary covering for those sins which was only valid until the next year. It's completely different from the New Covenant.

We'll look now at the promise of God in Isaiah 43:25. We need to notice that this follows in Isaiah 43 on a catalog of Israel's failures. It's important to see that. I suppose we all recognize that God is as well aware of Israel's failures as any of the rest of us. Yet He hasn't changed His promises. Going into Isaiah 43:22: 'Yet you have not called upon me, O Jacob, But you have become weary of Me, O Israel. [verse 24:] You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, neither have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; rather, you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.' The next verse, in the light of that, is surprising. Only God would say a thing like He said.

Verse 25: 'I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.' When our transgressions are wiped out and God no longer remembers our sins, then logically, the writer of Hebrews says, there's no more need for sacrifice. If God has forgotten the sin, we don't need a sacrifice to cover a sin that God has blotted out and forgotten. Notice in Isaiah 43:25 God says, 'I will do it for My own sake [not: for your sake, not because you have deserved it, but for My own sake].' We could look, for a moment, in Isaiah 48:9 and 11. That's just a little further on. Isaiah 48:9 and 11: God is again speaking to Israel, and He says in verse 9: 'For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off. [verse 11:] For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.'

God makes it extremely clear that what He intends to do He does not do it because it has been deserved or earned, but He does it for His own sake, and for the glory of His name. We need always to bear that in mind. Going on near the bottom of Page 8/2 I just point out that the Old Testament word for atonement means 'covering.' The corresponding New Testament word means 'reconciliation.' Incidentally, the word atonement, the English word, is interesting. I wonder how many of you know how it's put together? It's put together in three parts. At'one'ment. It means God and the sinner being brought 'at one.' That's the meaning of atonement. At'one'ment. Under the Old Covenant it wasn't at'one'ment. All it was was a covering. The Hebrew word is corfo, which is found in the word Yom Kippur, 'the day of the covering.' That's all it was.

It's very interesting, the same word is used of the pitch with which Noah covered the ark to make it water tight. It covered the ark, it kept them from disaster, it kept the water out. That's what the sacrifices of the Old Covenant were, they kept the water out. They were a temporary expedient to keep them from drowning, but they could not produce at'one'ment. If you look in Romans 5 you'll see the difference. Verses 10'11. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. You could say just as well 'atonement.'

That's the consequence of the New Covenant; it's atonement, reconciliation, God and the sinner 'at one.' But under the Old Covenant it was a recognition of the fact of sin, a reminder and a covering that was only valid until the next sacrifice became due. Going to the last verse of Hebrews 8 the writer sums up what he's been saying in regard to the Old Covenant. When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete, and growing old is ready to disappear. The fact that God uses the word 'a new covenant' indicates that the other is becoming obsolete and will ultimately disappear. There are two key words that are used in that passage.

First of all, the Old Covenant was inadequate. Not because there was anything wrong with the Law, but because it couldn't change the hearts of people. Secondly, the covenant was old, it was on the way out, it was not permanent. The New is specifically called an everlasting covenant. Now without further ado we're going on to chapter 9 which is where I expected to be a long while ago! Chapter 9 contains the fifth comparison. The fourth comparison was in chapter 8 between the Old and New Covenant. The fifth comparison is between the tabernacle of Moses and the heavenly tabernacle.

I think I'll read verses 1 through 5 and we'll look at them and there is a great deal in them. I don't know whether we'll even be able to get through. Then also the first covenant had ordinances [or regulations] of divine service and its sanctuary belonging to this world. It says 'earthly' but it really means more accurately 'belonging to this world.' It had a sanctuary in this world. For a tent was prepared, the first one [which is generally called the holy place], in which were the lampstand and the table and the setting forth of the sacred bread [or sacred loaves]; which is called the holy place. And then after the second veil or curtain, there was a tabernacle [or a tent] which is called the Holy of Holies... Elsewhere it's also called The Most Holy.

Those of you that know any Hebrew, Kadosh ko-da-shim, the most holy. Verse 4:... having the golden [or a golden] altar of incense and the chest of the covenant overlaid all over with gold, in which were... It's very interesting, because in Greek you have to put in the verb 'to be.' My brother is a cook. You've got to put in 'is.' In Hebrew you don't have to put in 'is.' My brother, a cook. That's all you have to say. It means 'is a cook.' This person is writing Greek but thinking Hebrew. Consequently, although the words are Greek, the structure is Hebrew. He doesn't put in the verb 'to be,' which is incorrect Greek but shows where his thoughts are.

Verse 4:... in which were a golden jar having the manna, and the rod [or the staff] of Aaron that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. And above it the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat [the place of propitiation]; concerning which it is not possible now to speak in detail. Have you regretted that that was there? The reason it's there, apparently if you read the earlier chapters, is because they couldn't have understood, they were too sluggish and too unspiritual to be able to accept this teaching. So they just had to pass on. In a cassette series of mine called 'The Way into the Holiest,' I have spoken about them in considerable detail.

So, that shows my faith in contemporary Christians that they've got to be more able to receive than the Hebrews were. I'm not going to take a lot of time now, but I'm just going to begin to open up this whole area of the tabernacle. I'd like you to look at the outline on Page 9/1, the outline that is for verses 1'5. It describes part of the tabernacle of Moses, it doesn't describe the whole tabernacle. The references, if you want to see the original description, are given there in parenthesis. In the first compartment, that's the Holy Place, there was the lampstand, the table of showbread, and the golden altar of incense, giving access to the second compartment; then, behind the second veil/curtain, in the Holy of Holies, was the golden ark or chest which had the mercy seat and the two cherubs.

There is a problem there which I have to be honest and face you with. If you look at what the writer of Hebrews says in verses 3 and 4, behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense. But if you read the description in the book of Exodus, the golden altar of incense was in front of the second veil, not behind it. My understanding is it means though it was in the Holy Place it was there to get you into the Holy of Holies because you couldn't enter the Holy of Holies without some incense off the altar of incense. The high priest had to put it in a censer, put coals on it and then swing it so that the fragrant white smoke rose up and covered the mercy seat. If that didn't happen, and he went in without that, he would have died.

So, you understand, the altar of incense was there to get you into the Holy of Holies. The writer says, 'Having the golden altar of incense.' It doesn't say that the golden altar of incense was inside the second veil. I don't know whether my reasoning is too Talmudic for you, but that's the best I'm able to do. If you want... Well, we won't look back at the old testiment scriptures. It takes too lomg. Now, Inside the Holy of Holies there was really only one piece of furniture which was this golden chest which had the lid, which was the mercy seat, and on either end of the lid attached to the lid were the cherubims of beaten gold at either end facing one another with their wings stretched out towards one another, and their wing tips touching one another over the middle of the mercy seat. It always impresses me that the further you go in spiritual progress, the fewer options you have.

That's what some people are scared of. They want to have a back door, they want another exit. I mean, it's so vivid to me that where are you headed when you're headed for a place that's a cube? Twenty cubits by twenty cubits by twenty cubits. In it there's just one item of furniture. If you're not interested, stay out. It's only for those who only want one thing, what's that? That's the Lord. You will find, I promise you, if you go on in the spiritual life there'll be times when if you want to go ahead there's only one thing, that's the Lord. There's no alternative attractions; there's no other inducements.

See, God wants us to want Him for Himself, not just for what we get or as a way out of trouble. So, if you can picture it in your mind, here you are going through this elaborate progress inside this second veil, and all there is is a golden box with a seat which has two cherubim. It doesn't even have any light. At least in the Holy Place there was a lampstand but this place is inside very thick coverings that exclude virtually all light. There's darkness'unless what? Unless God turns up in the person of the shekinah glory. Then it's illuminated by His personal presence. See, there was a risk. Suppose God doesn't turn up? You're in the dark! Do you know what I've discovered? God blesses those who take that risk.

Every time I minister to the sick I tell people, 'If God doesn't turn up, this is a waste of time because I can't do it.' But I've discovered when you realize it won't work if God doesn't turn up, He usually turns up. If you think you can do it without Him, that's probably what you'll have to do. We're going on in our outline. In the time of Moses the ark contained, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, the golden jar with manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. You can just look at those Scripture references quickly. For the golden jar, Exodus 16. Exodus 16:31'34. And the house of Israel named it manna...

This was the white thing like coriander seed that came down in the night and was there with the dew in the morning which they ate for forty years. Manna is probably, in Hebrew, ?man-na?, 'what is it?' So that was its name, they ate 'what is it?' How would you like to eat 'what is it?' for forty years? You remember, they got tired of it. They said, 'We loathe this white bread. We want the leeks and the garlics of Egypt.' But that was a rash statement; it got them into a lot of trouble.

Verse 32: Then Moses said, 'This is what the LORD has commanded, 'Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'' And Moses said to Aaron, 'Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD, to be kept throughout your generations.' Placing it before the Lord was understood to be placing it inside the golden chest. So that's the golden pot or jar that had manna. Aaron's rod that budded, Numbers 17:10. But the LORD said to Moses, 'Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony [that's the same as 'into the ark'] to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they should not die.'

If you read the story and the background, the other princes of the other tribes had said, 'We're just as good as Aaron. Why is Aaron the only one that can offer sacrifices?' God heard this and got angry and said, 'We'll settle this forever. Let every prince take his rod' which was the emblem of a ruler'write his name on it. You go into the tabernacle, and put them there before the Lord in the tabernacle. Then 24 hours later go and fetch them out.' Eleven rods were just the same, but the twelfth rod had budded and brought forth flowers and almond fruit in 24 hours. The name on the rod was 'Aaron.' God said, 'Let that settle it once and for all! He's the man of My choice, I don't have to give account. It's My decision.'

And, of course, that blossoming, budding and bringing forth fruit in 24 hours is a type of resurrection. It's a picture of Jesus, the heavenly high priest, vindicated by resurrection. The only man at that time to be resurrected from the dead. That was God's vindication of Jesus as His high priest. The rod speaks of resurrection. It also speaks of rulership because' well, turn to Revelation for a moment. Chapter 1, verse 5 which gives us a description of Jesus Christ. Without going into the background Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Notice there's a progression. First, He was the faithful witness. Then He was the first to be raised from the dead. And because of that, He's the ruler of the kings of the earth. Resurrection is a step to ruling. The rod is the emblem of rule. The rod that budded is the testimony of resurrection to God's chosen ruler. Then the stone tablets. I think we just have time to look at that. Exodus 34:1: The LORD said to Moses, 'Cut for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered.'

Verse 28: So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments [the ten words]. Then Exodus 40:20: Then he took the testimony [that's the Ten Commandments] and put it into the ark. So, in the time of Moses there were three things put into the ark, as the writer of Hebrews correctly reminds us of. There was the golden pot that had the manna, there was Aaron's rod that budded, and there were the two tablets of stone of the Ten Commandments. The Lord helping us, we'll go further with that very interesting situation, if you can stay the course, this time next week.
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