Old Covenant
versus New

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The Old Covenant was a physical (earth) based agreement that was initially made at Mount Sinai with the children of Israel. It required obedience to the letter of God's law. It promised that a person or a nation would be physically blessed (health, wealth, etc.) or cursed (e.g. poverty, captivity, etc.) depending on whether or not they obeyed all of God's written commandments and statutes (Exodus 19:5 - 6, Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26). It was the Being who became Jesus Christ Who established the Old Covenant with Israel.

Unlike the Old Covenant, the new one (first fully defined in Matthew 5 - 7) is spiritually based. It is founded on obedience from the heart and a fulfilling of God's laws not only in the letter but also in their spiritual intent. It promises spiritual blessings (John 3:16, Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, Romans 8, Luke 18:29 - 30), such as eternal life full of love and glory for those who obey God. Additionally, unlike the Old Covenant, the new one promises eternal death to those who completely and knowingly reject submitting to the Father.

The Old Covenant required physical circumcision (Genesis 17:9, Exodus 12:48, John 7:22) and people under it were not (with a few exceptions) given God's Spirit (Romans 7:6, Hebrews 8:7 - 9, Matthew 5:21 - 45). The New Covenant, in contrast, requires circumcision (repentance) of the heart (Acts 2:38, 3:19, Romans 2:25 - 29, Philippians 3:3, Colossians 2:11 - 13) and the Holy Spirit is made freely available to believers (Matthew 5:21 - 48, Romans 7:6, Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 8:10 - 12).

How do we worship God in spirit and truth?

What is the unpardonable sin?

Are the commandments still relevant?

Was Jesus the God of the Old Testament?

Under the Old Covenant system, physical works of law such as animal sacrifices were required (Leviticus 1 - 7). These sacrifices were made to justify a person but only to an earthly tabernacle (Hebrews 5:1 - 3, 9:1 - 13). A human High Priest served in the tabernacle as an intercessor between God and man (Hebrews 8:3 - 5, Exodus 28:1). Under the New Covenant, Jesus' sacrifice, the fruits of God's spirit and good works are required (Hebrews 9:10, 10:12, 13:15, Galatians 5:22 - 24, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 12:1 - 2, Matthew 19:17, Mark 15:15 - 18). Christ's sacrifice, in God's heavenly temple, forgive and justify those who repent and are baptized (Hebrews 7:25 - 27, 9:23 - 28 Acts 11:18, Galatians 2:20, Romans 3:24 - 25). He continually serves as man's spiritual High Priest and intercessor (Hebrews 4:14 - 16, 5:1 - 9, 7:17, Hebrews 8:1 - 2, 9:11).

Under the Old Covenant, if the letter of the law was obeyed, a person could access God through an earth-based tabernacle (Hebrews 9:13, Galatians 3:12, Leviticus 18:5, 2 Corinthians 3:16). No direct access to him was available or offered (Hebrews 9:6 - 8, 10:19). The covenant offered by Christ, however, gives those who obey one-on-one access to the Father through him (John 4:23 - 24, 16:23 - 27, Hebrews 6:20, 10:23, Romans 8:9 - 39, Ephesians 2:18 - 22, 2 Corinthians 3:6). This means that believers can talk to him at any time no matter where they are (Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 4:14 - 16, Ephesians 7:25 - 27, John 16, Galatians 4:6 - 7, Romans 8:15, Ephesians 2:18).

Lastly, those who were in the Old Covenant agreement could not have their consciences made clean or perfect before God in heaven (Hebrews 9:9, 10:4, 11). In the New Covenant made possible through Jesus' blood, however, a believer's sins can be spiritually forgiven. The Holy Spirit within them is able to purge their consciences and make them wholly acceptable to the Father (Hebrews 10:14 - 17, 2Corinthians 3:9, Colossians 1:27, Matthew 5:48, Philippians 2:5, 3:9 - 17, Ephesians 4).

Additional Study Materials
Important People in the Old Testament
What exactly is a covenant?
Map of Jesus' last travels

Old Covenant versus New
Primary Sources

Holy Bible, A Faithful Version (second edition, Appendix I)


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