One reason for studying the covenants of God is to gain a framework for the entire Bible. Key biblical figures serve as signposts in the Old Testament: Figures such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. These are the people through whom God chose to deliver His covenants, and they are significant characters to study. As we look at their lives, we can learn much about the history of man, the nation of Israel and, most importantly, the character of our God.
CONTRASTING THE OLD AND NEW
Another reason for studying the covenants is to contrast the Old Testament (Old Covenant) with the New Testament (New Covenant). A majority of the Old Testament is about the Law, especially from Exodus to Malachi. In contrast, the entire New Testament is generally about God’s grace.
For us as believers in Christ, the covenant in which we now live is the New Testament/Covenant. As pastors and leaders, we should make it our priority to study and teach from the New Testament. The Old Testament, through its frequent foreshadows and types, points to the New Testament.
The Old Testament contains many illustrations and examples from which we can learn; we can use them in our preaching and teaching. But we need to be preachers and teachers of truths found in our covenant of today, the covenant of grace.
Please understand: The Old Testament is God’s eternal Word and it is true and trustworthy (Isa 40:8). But we no longer live under the Law or the old sacrificial system of the Old Covenant. We now live under the Covenant of Grace and the Lordship of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Hallelujah!
Pastors and teachers, you should study all of the Scriptures. But learn to interpret the Old Covenant through the truths and the Spirit of the New Covenant.
A dominant theme in each of the Old Testament covenants is man’s failure to fulfill the covenant conditions. God, in His foreknowledge, gave each one of these covenants knowing the outcome: that man would break His covenant and fail. You might ask, “Why would God do that?” The answer is clear:
- Man needed to experience the failure that his own “works” would bring, so that man would have no excuse for his sin. Innocence (Edenic), conscience (Adamic), human government (Noahic), promise (Abrahamic) and the Law (Mosaic) were all insufficient to overcome the sin nature of man (Gal 2:21; 3:21).
- In the case of the Law, man would learn that laws and rules actually brought to the surface the rebellion in his heart; man wanted his own way and it was impossible for man to keep the Law (Rom 7:13-24).
- Ultimately, these failures would bring man to the realization that man needs a Savior (Gal 4:4-7).
NEW COVENANT OF GRACE
These covenant “failures,” step by step, pointed to the only possible way mankind could be saved and restored to relationship with a holy God: The way of grace that was mediated by a Savior, Jesus Christ. The promise of a “new and living way” (Heb 10:20) was given to men by God when He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of the coming New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).