I think it is safe to say that most folks who know anything about the Bible know that it is divided into two major sections: the Old Testament & the New Testament (sometimes called the Old & New Covenants). However, many of those same people do not have a good grasp on the differences between the two covenants. Many seem to think that the differences are unimportant and that you can pick & choose what you like from the Old or New Testaments, just as long as it comes from somewhere in the Bible.
This is a seriously flawed notion. Our aim in this series is to take a careful look at both the Old & New Covenants; we're going to contrast them to see just how many significant differences there are. Hopefully, when we're through, it will be clear in everyone's mind that although the Old Testament is still important today for us to study and learn from, we are not under it as a law system. Instead we are to be guided by the law of Christ (i.e., the New Testament), and the things we do must be authorized by the New Testament, not the Old.
We're going to look at 12 points of contrast in all. Primarily we'll be reading from God's word with a few comments added. You are encouraged, of course, to open your Bibles and consider these quotations in their wider contexts. Many of the New Testament readings will come from the book of Hebrews, which deals extensively with this theme.
1. The Old Covenant was given by Moses,
- Malachi 4:4 - "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments."
- But the New Covenant is given by Christ.
- John 1:17 - "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
- Hebrews 12:24 - "To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel."
2. The Old Covenant was given to Israel only,
- Deuteronomy 5:2,3 - "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive."
- But the New Covenant is given to all mankind.
- Mark 16:15,16 - "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.'"
- Romans 1:16 - "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."
3. The Old Covenant was written on stone,
- II Corinthians 3:7,8 - "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, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?"
- But the New Covenant is written on one's heart.
- II Corinthians 3:3 - "Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart."
- Hebrews 8:10 - "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
4. God found fault with the Old Covenant,
- Hebrews 8:7 - "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second."
- But the New Covenant is a better covenant.
- Hebrews 8:6 - "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
We will continue this study in our next lesson.