Rabbi Schneider - The Principle of Covenant
What we're doing, beloved, is we're challenging some of the thought patterns we've had in the past that have caused us to have a disconnect in our thinking as we've tried to understand how the Hebrew Bible relates to the New Testament. Many of us, because of wrong thinking and wrong theology that we've been taught, have tended to view the God of the Old Testament as a harsh law giver that seemed to mercilessly punish people for their sin, while at the same time viewing the God of the New Testament as loving and forgiving and gracious. And for some of us, it seems like the God of the Hebrew Bible and the God of the New Testament are two different people, that they're two different Gods, and we have no idea how the Old Testament and the New Testament fit together.
So we've been addressing that in this series, helping you to understand that the God of the Tanakh, the God of the Hebrew Bible, and the God of the Brit Chadasha, or new covenant Scriptures, are the same person and that we see that the God of the Hebrew Bible and the God of the New Testament have put the two together, the two covenants together like a hand in a glove. We're going to be looking today, beloved, at the principle of covenant.
Now, on last week's broadcast, I talked about the purpose of the law as it was for the children of Israel when it was initially given and how the law relates to us today as believers, and I want to talk about as I speak final words on that concept, I want to mention the principle of progressive revelation. And what I mean by progressive revelation, it's a theological term, and what it means is that the will of God and the mind of God is revealed more and more fully as time goes on. Even, for example, the Lord said to Daniel in the book of Daniel, he said Daniel, I'm giving you this prophecy and I'm showing you this vision, but the meaning of it won't be revealed until the very end of days. And so the meaning is shut up until the very end, and then God's going to open up the meaning. And the same thing is true, beloved, of the revelation of Yeshua.
In the Hebrew Bible, we see prophecies about who Yeshua is, but we don't have a full picture of the grace of God until Yeshua finally comes in the flesh. So when Yeshua comes in the flesh, he opens up our understanding of the heart of God, and we fully now understand who God is as we compare our understanding now to our understanding when all we had was the Hebrew Bible. But the Hebrew Bible, beloved, is written by the God and Father of Yeshua, the Messiah, and the Lord has revealed to us who he is more and more, climaxing it all in the person of Yeshua. That's why Hebrews 1 is a favorite Scripture of mine. And it says in the times past, the Lord spoke to us through the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, but in these last days, he's spoken to us through his Son, through whom he's created the world, and was the exact representation of his nature.
In other words, God's saying I've revealed myself to you in beams of light in the past, but now in my Son Yeshua, I'm letting the whole sun shine for you. Progressive revelation, that God reveals himself more and more as time goes on. So understanding that the plan of God is progressive, that God started out, beloved, revealing himself to a world that was trapped in barbarianism, he brought them from there to walking in a just system of righteousness through the law, and from the law, he brought them to the next level, and that is walking in the person of Yeshua by his Spirit, understanding now that the revelation of God is progressive, I want to talk today about covenant. There are three primary covenants revealed in the Bible.
Now, there are more covenants than three, but there are three foundational covenants. The three foundational covenants revealed in the Word of God, Yadid, beloved ones, are, number one, the Abrahamic covenant, where the Lord said to Abraham, Abraham, in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. That is the foundational covenant, and that reveals the plan of God from the beginning, that through the seed of Abraham, who is Yeshua. The book of Galatians says that the seed of Abraham is Yeshua. That through the seed of Abraham, Yeshua, the grace of God is going to extend to the entire world. Before Yeshua was born, the only people that had revelation of who God was, beloved, were the Israelites. But that was never God's final plan. God's final plan was that salvation would spread to the entire world, every tribe, tongue, and nation. The foundational covenant then is the Abrahamic covenant, through whom the promise of Messiah came.
From the Abrahamic covenant, the next foundational covenant is the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic covenant basically said this to the children of Israel, if you keep my laws and keep my judgments and keep my statutes, I am going to bless you. You'll be blessed when you come in, you'll be blessed when you go out. You'll be blessed when you lie down, you'll be blessed when you rise. Your harvests will be blessed, your crops will be blessed, your offspring will be blessed. Everything the Lord said will be blessed if you observe my statutes and keep my ways. Conversely, the Mosaic covenant stated in Deuteronomy chapter 28, the blessings and the cursings are all in Deuteronomy 28 in regards to the Mosaic covenant. Conversely, the Lord said to the children of Israel in relationship to the Mosaic covenant, if you disobey me, if you don't fully keep my charge, if you don't fully walk in my ways, if you don't fully embrace and walk in my statutes, the Lord said the curse will come upon you. You'll be cursed when you lie down, you'll be cursed when you rise. Your harvests will be cursed, your offspring will be cursed.
So the Mosaic covenant, beloved, promised a blessing for obedience, but a cursing for disobedience. The reality of the situation is even though the Mosaic covenant offered the promise of blessing, it ended up becoming a curse because no one was fully able to live in the obedience necessary of the Mosaic covenant to receive the blessing. That's why one of the purposes of the Mosaic covenant or the law was that it was a tutor to prepare us for Jesus. That's why Jesus said that a Pharisee came and a sinner came, and they both began to pray. And the Pharisee thought he was pretty good. He looked at himself, he was dressed in his religious clothing, he thought he was in good relationship to the law, and he looked at the sinner next to him and he lifted his eyes to the Lord, he said Lord, I thank you that you didn't make me like this sinner next to me. But the sinner beat his hands against his chest, and he said Lord, forgive me. And Yeshua said I tell you, it was the sinner that went home justified.
One of the purposes of the Mosaic covenant, beloved, was to teach us and to teach the children of Israel that we're not capable of fully living to the extent of the law that's necessary to receive the blessing and that we cry out for mercy, Lord, save me, and it prepares us for Yeshua, who offers forgiveness, beloved, and the grace necessary to walk with God in a way that pleases him. So let's review. We're talking about progressive revelation and we're talking about covenants and how the covenants of Scripture progress from the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic covenant and then finally to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant in the person of Yeshua.
Once again, the Abrahamic covenant, beloved, was foundational. I want you to hear this. It was unconditional. When Abraham offered up his son Isaac, the Lord said to him, because you have done this thing, I have sworn by myself, declares the Lord, that I will greatly bless you, and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Through you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. So that was unconditional. God wasn't saying now, if you do this, I'm going to do this or if they do this, I'm going to do this. God made a vow, and he swore by himself. By myself, saith the Lord. Because you have done this thing, God said to Abraham, I make this covenant with you, and through your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. It was unconditional. But the Mosaic covenant, beloved, was conditional. Because God said if you do this, I'm going to bless you, but if you don't do this, I'm going to curse you. It was conditional.
The Bible teaches once again that this Mosaic covenant was a temporary administrative covenant to hold the children of Israel in place through whom Jesus was going to come through, until he was born into the world. It served a purpose for a specific period of time, and now that it has served its purpose in relationship to holding the children of Israel together until a Messiah could be born, the Scriptures tell us in Galatians, we no longer relate to it in the same way, although it is still, beloved, the self-disclosure of who God is, it's holy, spiritual, righteous and good, profitable for teaching and training in righteousness. The next covenant, beloved, and the final covenant of Scripture is the new covenant that Yeshua inaugurated in his own blood, listen, at Passover. It was at Passover that Yeshua lifted up the wine, and he blessed it. He may have said something similar to the blessing that we say in Jewish homes today over the wine called kiddush. We say "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam borei pri hagafen". And then he said this is my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins in the new covenant.
The new covenant, as we're looking at how the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament connect, Yadid, the new covenant was revealed in the Hebrew Bible. Excuse me for just a second. I want you to turn with me to the book of Ezekiel if you have your Bible with you today. I'm going to the book of Ezekiel, chapter number 36. We're going to be looking right now at the book of Ezekiel and the book of Jeremiah. Now, both Ezekiel and Jeremiah were written around 600 BC. Hear the Word of God. What I'm saying to you is that the new covenant, beloved, is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, because we're talking today about how the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament connect. So I'm showing you how the grace that has been given us in Jesus was prophesied and revealed and predicted in the Hebrew Bible.
I'm reading now once again from Ezekiel chapter number 36, verse number 27, Yadid, beloved ones. Hear the Word of God. The Lord says there, I will put my Spirit, I will put my ruach. We have a song in Hebrew. The Hebrew word for spirit is called ruach. Ruach. And so we have a song. I'm going to sing it for you, because it's really easy. "Ruach, ruach, ruach. Ruach, ruach, ruach. Not by might or power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. Not by might or power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord". So with that in mind, reading Ezekiel chapter 36 verse 27, the Lord says there, I will put my Spirit, my ruach within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances.
What happened, beloved, in Acts chapter 2? What happened in Acts 2, beloved, is the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36 verse 27. God put his Spirit, amen, in his people. So we're looking at how do the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament connect. We're talking about progressive revelation, that the will of God and the purpose of God and the plan of God was revealed more and more fully as time went on, that God showed us what his ultimate plan was in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, that the time would come that he would put his Spirit within people and cause them to walk in his ways. You see, beloved, in the Mosaic covenant, listen, God put his law on the tablets of stone. But in the new covenant that Yeshua inaugurated through which we receive the gift of his Spirit, God moved his hand from writing on tablets of stone instead to writing his laws, beloved, in our heart.
So I'm reading now from the book of Jeremiah chapter number 31. Jeremiah chapter number 31, again written around 600 BC. I'll be reading now the 31st through the 34th verse, rather. Behold, days are coming, declares Yahweh, declares the Lord, when I'll make a new covenant. What new covenant? The covenant, beloved, that Jesus inaugurated at Passover when he lifted the wine and blessed it and he said this is my blood shed for you in the new covenant. Days are coming, declares the Lord, when I'll make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them.
Now, it's interesting, the Lord says to Israel, I'm going to make a new covenant with you, and it's not going to be like the Mosaic covenant. He said it's not going to be like the covenant I made with you when I brought you out of Egypt. That was the Mosaic covenant. He said I was faithful to you in that covenant. The Lord said I was like a husband to you in that covenant, but you were not faithful to me in that covenant. So God writing his law on the tablets of stone couldn't fix human beings' problems. We could not live up to that covenant. So God says I'm going to make a new covenant with you this time. It's not going to be like the old one. The old one didn't work. I'm going to move now, listen, the Lord says, beloved. The Lord says I'm going to move now, listen, from the outside, from the tablets of stone, to the inside.
So the Lord continues there in the next verse, and he says this, But this is the covenant, verse 33, which I'll make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord. I will put, listen, I will put my law, here we go, within them. I will put my law within them, and on their heart I will write it, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. And so the Lord, Yadid, beloved ones, goes from the outside to the inside, from the law on the tablets of stone to being inside the heart, from the Spirit of God being seen over the tabernacle visibly with the eyes, now coming inside the human heart. So I'm showing you once again how the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, and the New Testament, they fit together like a hand in a glove. God prophesied all these things, beloved, in the Hebrew Bible, and then he brought them all to fulfillment in Yeshua. And the grace of God was more and more and more fully revealed until Yeshua, hallelujah, came in the flesh.
Well, as a side note here, I want to speak to you about the fact that when we read the New Testament, there is another law that's mentioned there that may kind of be a little bit unfamiliar to some of you. If you have a Bible, you might want to jot this down. Again, you can order the series. I'm going to be going now to the book of Mark, chapter number 7. We're just taking a bit of a trail here, but I want you to understand this as long as we're talking about the law and what the law meant to the Jewish people in the day of Yeshua and how he himself related to it. I'm going to the book of Mark, chapter number 7. In this section of Scripture, Yeshua ran into a conflict with the Pharisees because the Pharisees, beloved, were accusing Yeshua's disciples of not following, we see there, the tradition of the elders.
I'm reading from Mark chapter 7, verse number 5. Hear the Word of the Lord. And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, why do your disciples not walk, here we go, according to the tradition of the elders? That's the key word. Why do your disciples, they said to Yeshua, the Pharisees are saying to Yeshua, why do your disciples not walk according to, here's the key, the tradition of the elders? And then it continues on. But they eat their bread with their hands unwashed, or impure. And Yeshua responded to them, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites. As it is written, this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, now listen to this next verse, verse 7B, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men, here we go, next verse. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.
You see, beloved, during the time of Yeshua, there were two laws, as there still are today within the traditional Jewish world. There was the written law that we have recorded for us in the Torah, the law that we see revealed in the book of Deuteronomy and the rest of the Torah. This is the written law. But what the Pharisees of Yeshua's day believed was that Moses did not just receive from the Lord that which he recorded in the first five books of our Bible called the Torah, but they believed that Moses also received other information from God which he did not write down, but rather, listen, he passed this additional information they teach on orally to the leaders of Israel of the day, and that this law that Moses passed on orally continued to be passed down orally even during the time of the New Testament.
So they say why do your disciples not wash their hands according to the tradition of the elders? This tradition of the elders, beloved, was a code word for this oral law. It was what they said Moses passed on to them that he received at Mount Sinai and in the wilderness, but never wrote it down. But what Yeshua taught was that some of the oral law that they were claiming was from God was not from God, but that it was really, he said, just the tradition of men. And so you'll see sometimes Yeshua getting in conflict with the Pharisees, and it appears at times that his conflict with the Pharisees was over the law, but you have to understand that it wasn't over the written law that Yeshua was in conflict with, it was oftentimes, beloved, over the oral law.
This, for example, was true concerning the Sabbath. Remember Yeshua would oftentimes get into conflict with the Pharisees regarding what was proper and not proper to do on the Sabbath. Remember, he was walking through the field one day, he and his disciples, and he bent down to pick up a grain of wheat to eat it because they were hungry, and they accused him of harvesting on the Sabbath. This was part of their oral law, this tradition that they accumulated. The same thing was true when he healed on the Sabbath. They accused him of healing on the Sabbath. And in all fairness and respect to the Pharisees and to the ultra orthodox Jewish community today, the reason that the oral law was developed in some measure, beloved, was to protect the written law and to give instruction as to how the written law was carried out.
Remember, the apostle Paul said in Romans I bear them witness concerning their zeal for God. So the heart's intention was good, but eventually it obscured the purpose of God. That's why Yeshua said you neglect the commandment of God in verse number 8 of Mark 7 for the sake of your own tradition. And so I just wanted to bring clarity there, that sometimes when you're reading the Bible, the law that Yeshua is in conflict with is never the written law of God, but is the oral law which the Pharisees claimed Moses received on Mount Sinai and orally passed it down so that it became known as the tradition of the elders. And that tradition, beloved, still exists today.
Well, as we're closing, Yadid, beloved ones, today, I hope that what is happening is you're getting clarity on the fact that the God and Father of your Jesus, beloved, is the author of the Tanakh, or the Old Testament, and that it really isn't as confusing as we've been led to believe. That because of anti-Semitism, many of us have received teaching that's been false and has caused us to look at the law as something that's antiquated, has no relevance for our life today, and has nullified because Yeshua has come.
The reality is, beloved, nothing could be farther from the truth. The law was God's preliminary grace that held the children of Israel together until Jesus came. Although we no longer relate to the law in the same way, the law still has application for our life. It's holy, spiritual, righteous and good, and Paul said to Timothy it's profitable for teaching and for training in righteousness. The law, beloved, is also the self-disclosure of who our God is. And as we study the law, beloved, God strengthens us in faith, in our moral fiber. And by learning how to obey him through what pleases his heart, not because we're living a life of legalism, but because we're gaining revelation of who he is, beloved, what happens then is we ascend in walking in grace and in the Lord.