Import jQuery

Am I Under a Covenant

By Drew Nichols

Sometimes In discussing my faith to Christian friends, I try to explain why I keep the Sabbath, or why I don’t eat pork. Often I receive comments such as this: “Christians are under the New Covenant, not the Old Covenant, so the Old Testament law does not apply to us.” 

As a believer in the Messiah, what covenant am I under?

So now we must figure out which covenant we are “under.” First of all, I must say that I think this is bad terminology. We are not under a covenant, we are in covenant with another person, or with God. As a husband (or wife) how would you feel if your spouse referred to themselves as being under a marriage contract to you (as if it were a heavy burden to bear.)?  Now say that they are in covenant with you and it sounds a lot better, more like the blessing that marriage should be. So rather than which covenant I am “under,” I will discuss the issue of which covenant (or covenants) apply to me. 

Christian theologians have long taught about these covenants as if they were a multiple-choice test, a person can only pick one. In this school of thought the sons of Adam were “under” the Adamic covenant, the sons of Noah were “under” the Noahide covenant, the children of Abraham were under the Abrahamic covenant, the Israelites were “under” the Mosaic covenant, the sons of David were “under” the Davidic covenant, and now Christians are “under” the new covenant”. This treats the various covenants as if they are mutually exclusive, and each only applicable to a limited group of people in a certain age. If a person is “under” one, then the others don’t apply. This has led many to be fearful of exploring the other, older covenants for fear of losing their place in the New Covenant, or “falling from grace” as it were. This ignores the fact that there is much overlap between the covenants because they address different areas of life. Some involve work, some involve children, some involve righteous living, and others involve eternal life. Many involve visible signs. All involve God’s grace and mercy. The Word of God is always consistent, and a new covenant or promise cannot do away with a previous promise or covenant. Paul makes this evident in Galatians where he is explaining that the Law or the Sinai Covenant does not do away with Gods earlier covenant with Abraham.

Gal 3:17 Gal 3:17  And this I say that covenant , that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, can not annul (a covenant previously ratified by God,) so as to make the promise void.

Therefore we must look beyond the period of time we live in and examine the purpose and conditions of the covenants to determine if they might apply to us. I will start from the beginning.

The Adamic Covenant is still in effect, as far as I can tell. Man is still working toward dominion of the earth, men still sweat and toil for food, and women still have pain in childbirth. Therefore I can safely assume that the seed of woman (Messiah) will still crush the head of Satan in the final battle. The first covenant is still relevant.

There are still rainbows after the rain. Therefore we can safely trust God’s promise that he will not destroy the earth by flood. Thus the Noahide Covenant seems to apply to us.

The third Covenant is still being fulfilled today in that the seed of Abraham is even today growing and spreading throughout the world, both the literal descendants of Abraham and the spiritual seed of Abraham that are represented by faithful believers from all nations. This will only come to complete fruition in the Kingdom to come, when all of the world accepts the Messiah, the unique Seed of Abraham. Therefore the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect and applies to me as a faithful believer.

The Mosaic covenant is the one where many stumble. This however is an effect of misunderstanding the purpose of the covenant. The Torah was given to show the people of God how to live a holy life, as set apart from the people around us. It was given to show us what a life that is pleasing and glorifying to God looks like. It also gives the definitions for righteousness, and of sin. It was accompanied by various blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience, respectively. Now today as followers of Messiah Yeshua, we are still called upon to live a holy life.

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

We are still called to be set apart from the world.

1Jo 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

  If we love our God, we should desire to please him and glorify him by the way we live our lives.

1Jo 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

 We are to strive for righteousness and avoid sin, and the Torah is still the standard of what is righteous and what is sin.

1Jo 3:4  Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

While Yeshua has saved us from the ultimate penalty for sinners (death and hell) we can still be blessed for living a righteous life according to God’s Commandments. It seems to me that all aspects of this covenant are still relevant to my life today. So am I “under the law?” No. Does the Mosaic covenant apply to me? Yes.

As I am not to my knowledge a descendant of David, and as the throne of Israel was abolished millennia ago, there is little personal application of the Davidic covenant. I do, however look forward to the coming of the Son of David to his Throne and the establishment of His eternal Kingdom. Therefore, the Davidic covenant is still relevant to us today.

Now the New Covenant: As a faithful believer, I have put my trust in Messiah Yeshua to forgive my sins and remember my iniquities no more. His Spirit is continually working on me to write the Commandments of God on my heart and convict me of sin. He works in me also to empower me to live a life pleasing to God. Therefore I would say that the New Covenant most definitely applies to me.

However, there are still conditions of the New Covenant the have not been manifested yet. There are still people who don’t know the Living God. There is still a need for teaching (i.e. the Great Commission). While I am progressing toward the goal, I cannot honestly say that my heart is completely conformed to God’ Commandments. Therefore it would be incorrect to say that the New Covenant is fully in effect. But it can be said that “We have it now, but not yet”. We have the promise, and the covenant has been initiated, but just as the Kingdom of God is at hand, but is not completely fulfilled, the fullness of the New Covenant will not be realized until Yeshua’s Kingdom is established on Earth in its fullness.

It seems, in conclusion, that contrary to the traditional understanding, a person cannot simply be “under’ the Old Covenant, or “under” the New Covenant, but that all of God’s Covenants are eternal and stand forever, because He is eternal and does not change. All of His covenants are still active and applicable to my life. I cannot simply pick and choose what parts of His Word I will apply to my life; I must study and believe all of it. I must seek understanding of each of God’s covenants with mankind, so that I can better understand the God who made those covenants. Far from being a burden to be crushed “under,” the covenants are a blessing, like a ripe field to be harvested. As an unworthy sinner, saved only by the Grace of my Messiah Yeshua, I am happy just to be in any covenant with the God of the universe, and I am willing to let a Being infinitely wiser than myself lay out the terms as He has done in His Word. Blessed be our God, King of the Universe, who has blessed unworthy men with His covenants, has shown us the way to walk with His commandments, and who has extended His grace and sent His Son to die in our place, so that our sins may be forgiven. Thank you Yeshua!

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