Do you remember the story of Moses going up a mountain and receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord? Well those weren’t the only laws God gave to Moses. While Moses was at Mount Sinai, God established a way for people to relate to Him and to each other. If these laws were broken, there were consequences. This was a covenant of works, often called “the old covenant.”
A covenant is an agreement that two or more parties enter into with a pretty severe consequence if the agreement is ever broken. Oftentimes, the punishment for breaking a covenant was death.
Fast forward many years to the time of the New Testament. The author of Hebrews explained to the Jewish people that there is now a new and better covenant. The reason being that the old covenant was impossible to keep.
At first, the Israelites were excited about the laws they were given. “Moses came and told the people all the Lord’s words and all the decisions. All the people answered together, ‘We are willing to do all the words that the Lord has said'” (Exodus 24:3). But this covenant depended on the obedience of the people and it didn’t take very long for them to fail. The old covenant shows God demands perfection and, because of sin, people are not able to obey the way God requires.
In Jeremiah 31 God promised that He would establish a new covenant, and this is what the author of Hebrews referenced in chapter 8. “But showing its fault, God says to them, ‘Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah‘” (Hebrews 8:8). God knew a new covenant was needed. It did not surprise Him, it was a part of the plan all along.
So what is this new covenant? The new covenant is also called the covenant of grace. This covenant depends solely on the work of Jesus. Again, this covenant is an agreement God makes with sinners, but this time the covenant isn’t broken by our disobedience. Jesus says, “I will do it all.”
Through His life, He obeyed the laws of God perfectly, though His death He takes on himself the punishment for our failure of not keeping God’s laws.
“…for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” – Matthew 26:28
Through His resurrection, He gives us the power and desire to fight sin and obey God.
This covenant is a better covenant because Jesus is better than everything that came before Him, which hinted at His coming. It is something to be thankful for every single day because we don’t have to do one single thing to win God’s favor; it is all of grace not of works.
Looking to Jesus,
Week 4 Challenge:
Every year, the people of Israel were required to make sacrifices at the temple in order to be right with God. Even still, those sacrifices were not enough to purify them continually from sin, but they were necessary every year. Now, because of Christ’s one sacrifice, we have been made right with God for eternity. There is nothing we need to do to make ourselves right with Him. However, we often find ourselves striving to earn God’s favor in our everyday lives. This week, keep a running list of the ways you find yourself attempting to make yourself right with God, or improve your standing with Him. Confess your striving to Him, asking Him to show you how His love for you has nothing to do with your work for Him.
Week 4 Reading Plan:
Week 4 Memory Verse: