The God of the Covenants

A Prophecy repeated in Both the Old and New Testaments reveals Much about WHO it was that Made the Covenants with the Peoples of God, both in Ancient Times and in the Current Era.

  © Rich Traver,  81520-1411, 9-23-06   [ 99 ] 

We can often overlook the obvious when reading the Bible.  When we are familiar with something and not considering any particular question, it is all too easy to do. A similar thing can happen when we are pre-conditioned by a presumption. For example, fundamentalists are quick to quote John 3:16, while most never pause to consider the word ‘perish’ that is the main point of the verse.  They, for the most part, go on from there to present a scenario of human destiny that doesn’t allow for any perishing, but rather, conscious eternal life in either of two places. The word perish doesn’t properly register.

Similarly, Christianity in its various persuasions harbors basic conceptions which skirt around more important questions, not wanting to ‘muddy the waters’ with ‘uncomfortable truths’.  What passes for New Covenant theology is no exception.  One glaring anomaly among the anti-law persuasion of ‘New Covenant Movement’ is the casual use of the terms ‘covenant’ and ‘testament’ interchangeably when referring to the Old Testament or New Testament, as though the words are completely synonymous, when they in fact are not!  There’s a reason for their doing so.  While it’s clear that the New Covenant supercedes the Old, and the ceremonial rituals of the Old no longer apply to a Christian, alleging that the words covenant and testament are interchangeable, conveys the same disregard for the ‘body of testimony’ [1] contained within the Old Testament, making it easier to justify a disregard for the entirety of its content.  Never mind that accounts and experiences contained therein were written specifically for those “upon whom the ends of the world are come”!  ( 1st Cor. 10:11, Rom. 15:4 )

What possible good would it be for a document, written for a particular people, to be purposefully disregarded by those very people once they became a called and viable generation? 

But by obscuring the distinction between testament and covenant, it becomes easier to allege and convince the unsuspecting that we’re free to disregard, and even obligated to disregard, any proscription it may appear to impose, particularly as it involves things derived from ‘the LAW’!

Following this Through

If we were to follow the fundamentalist line of reasoning thru to its logical conclusion, then we’d find the two explicit mentions of the New Covenant to be somewhat perplexing.  Because, you see, the New Covenant is premised upon the internalization of the Laws of God, not their abandonment.

Some will allege that the New Covenant is based not on those Old Covenant laws, but those of Jesus, and only those presented in the New Testament!  The subliminal presumption of that view being that Jesus is not the same Being who we see dealing with the peoples of the “Old Covenant” all thru the Old Testament era.  Yet, ample historical evidence indicates that the Early New Testament Church pointedly held the belief that Jesus Christ was in fact the same Being who we read of all thru the Old Testament. [2]  New Testament scriptures also preserve the fact [3] causing that argument to collapse.  We need to admit to ourselves what kind of a difference this identification makes: That Jesus was also the LORD God of the Old Testament. [4]

Because, while many acknowledge and accept the below quoted verse at face value, it’s with a certain ‘qualification’. That being: that the ‘laws’ referred to are a new set, derived from Christ’s words and teachings, not those of Old Testament origin. This despite the clear fact that its first declaration was by the prophet Jeremiah in the 7th century BC.

A NEW Covenant

One could read either passage, the one in Jeremiah or the one in Hebrews.  It wouldn’t make much difference, because the latter quotes the earlier very closely.  “.. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:”  (Hebrews 8:8-10 quoting Jeremiah 31:31-33)

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is what ‘laws’ are these referring to?  Does one passage indicate one set of laws and the other another?

Secondly, who is the Being referred to by the personal pronouns?  Who is the ‘I’ and ‘me’ ?  Are these referring to the same Being in both places, or one in one and another in the other?  Who is this ‘Lord’ who is to become their ‘God’ under the New Covenant?  Didn’t the Old Covenant provide them a ‘LORD God’ already?  Were they to reject Him in favor of another later on?

If there was a change of either one: of the laws or of which Lord was speaking, wouldn’t the New Testament author have said so?  Wouldn’t he have quoted Jeremiah less exactly if such was the case?  After all, so many suppose a different set of laws is the subject of this passage.  Where is the scriptural mention that one set of moral laws was to be abrogated and another set in its place?

Let me pose to you the most logical answer to the above ‘dilemma’ (created unnecessarily by modern theology) by suggesting that the ‘Lord’ is the same under either Covenant.  What we see changing is the relationship between mankind and the Law-giver, not the standard of conduct, which provides the definition of sin. [5]  Notice, in order for the God of the New Covenant to become our God, the law must first become written in our hearts’!

WHO is the Speaker?

The Lord says He will make a new covenant.  Then refers to the covenant He made previously with the men of old.  So this has to be the LORD God of the Old Testament.  Then He refers to the day when He brought them out of Egypt. Now this could confuse some, as it was the belief of New Testament writers that this Being was one-and-the-same as the one who became Jesus Christ!  Paul was very confident of that! (1st Corinthians 10:4)  The author of the book of Hebrews, quoting David in Hebrews 4, shows this Lord having dealt with these same people, referred to in Hebrews 8, they being excluded on account of their ‘not continuing in’ His (“Old”) Covenant on account of their unbelief, not on account of any fault with the original Code.  (Hebrews 4:4-8)  Paul also confirms the presence of the Being who later became Christ in the covenant made with Abraham in Galatians 3:17, confirming Christ’s own statement in John 8:56-58.

(Now, basic Trinitarianism would insist that both Beings, the God of the Old Testament is the same Being as the God of the New, as the apparent ‘two’ are merely ‘hupostases’ of one another: One Being appearing in either manifestation.  So Trinitarianism also weighs-in in support of a single Being as the God of both Covenants.  To suggest otherwise would upend the fundamental premise of Trinitarian Theology!  But, isn’t that precisely what modern fundamentalism does?)

So once we realize that this ‘Lord’ being referred to in Jeremiah 31 and again in Hebrews 8 is the same Being, then it becomes patently illogical to suggest that this same Lord would generate a new set of Moral Laws specific to and expressly for the Covenant relationship being made with His newly called peoples. (Yet, modern religion works from that premise!) It makes us ask, why then would He have given the first set in the first place?  (Something modern religion doesn’t seem to be able to answer, missing the real point of Galatians 3:24.  How could a law not being kept bring us unto Christ?)

So, modern fundamentalism is especially disconnected from reality by theologizing around the obvious, insisting: 1) that Jesus was a different Lord than the One who gave the Law and who made the Old Covenant in the first place, and 2) that the law being mentioned in Hebrews 8 was a different law than that Law of the Old Testament, having originated with this supposedly new and separate Lord.  This approach leaves them and the followers of that line doubly knotted-up theologically.

Messenger of the Covenant

We would be remiss to not also consider the one identified as ‘the messenger of the Covenant’.  Malachi 3 has this: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.  2: But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:  3: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.  4: Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.  5: And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.  6: For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 7: Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. [6]

Again, we need to ask ourselves, who is this Lord?

There is a ‘messenger’ who is to appear before the Lord.  Then this Lord is also identified as the messenger of the covenant, who on His appearing, will purify religious society on the basis of His ordinances, long since abandoned by them.  The one who will refine society of its spiritual impurities is Jesus, God’s Christ, not God the Father!  The term: ‘the messenger of the covenant’ indicates an intermediary working with humanity, that it isn’t God the Father working directly.

Heart of the Matter

The prime issue involving the New Covenant of God is the matter of a changed heart.  Fundamentalists make a major show of the act of ‘giving ones’ heart to the Lord’, somehow failing to realize that it’s His intention to discard our hearts, it being the source of all that’s wrong with us, and to give us a new heart of a type that we couldn’t possibly self-generate!  A heart that is amenable to and receptive of the Laws of God, not one dismissive of them.

Hebrews 3:8-12 makes potent reference to the peoples of the Old Covenant.  8: “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:  9: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (Christ’s works, who followed them in the wilderness. (1st Cor. 10:1-11)) 10: Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways... 12: Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  How did they depart from the living God?  By purposefully disregarding His Laws, thus breaking His Covenant!

2nd Corinthians 3:13-18 presents more of this example: 13: “And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished (Protestants love this word abolished !)  14: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.  15: But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.  16: Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away (The thing that is going to change (be taken away) is the perceptual barrier between the Law and the human heart, not the God-given Moral Code which is the basis of both Covenants!) 17: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty 18: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  What is this concluding thought alluding to?  Our physical appearance OR our inner Spiritual characteristic?  What ‘liberty’?  Is it freedom to disregard the Law?  (That’s what many try to allege this is saying.)  Unconverted people already have that ‘liberty’ in spades!  Why would they need a new covenant only to re-achieve what they already have?  Why not just apply grace and move on?  According to the way fundamentalists tell it, we go from one ‘not keeping the law’ condition to another ‘not keeping the law’ condition.  What apparently changes is that under their version of the ‘New Covenant’, disregarding the law becomes authorized, where it wasn’t before!

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”  (2nd Cor. 3:3)  God’s Holy Spirit facilitates His Law becoming applied internally, in our hearts, something not possible with carnal men, as God hasn’t yet given them a new heart, one that can bear an ‘internalization’ of His Law. [7] Our natural hearts can’t!  Ezekiel 36:26: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  Kinda’ says what the Lord will do with the hearts of those who give theirs’ to Him!  Ezekiel 11:19: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh 20: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.  21: But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.

Speaking of His ordinances’, we should notice this: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Most people won’t recognize where this verse is found, though it continues the sentence of two other very popular verses.  (Hint: Ephesians 2:8-9 (check v. 10 ))

The Veil Abolished!

So we see a people: the peoples of the Old Covenant, with their perceptions veiled, to where they can’t see the need to keep the Law, nor the purpose for its having been given in the first place.  With a correct

perception, it is apparent why the Law is essential to the New Covenant as well as the Old!

Under the New Covenant, we see the Law being incorporated into the make-up of our very natures from within. This veil can affect our being brought into the New Covenant.  It remains ‘over’ the perceptualization of all who have not yet been brought under the New, Jews and non-Jews alike.  Those who envision the Law as being the element that’s ‘abolished / done away / taken away’ illustrate the continuing effect of the veil!  THEY can’t see it!  One need not become Jewish to not see the reason for the Law having been given.

Same GOD, Same Law!

Those who at least acknowledge the terms of the New Covenant, as spelled-out in Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31, though they prefer to reconfigure what it purports to say, are still under that veil so long as they fail to recognize that it’s the same God referred to in both passages, and it’s the same Law in both!  Israel as a people will be kept in this ‘veiled’ condition until their day of salvation. [8]  The rest of humanity will be as well, until such time as they are called of God, given His Spirit, and fully commit themselves to His Righteous standards, as demonstrated by the life Christ lived, and living still within us!    

Article Footnotes:

[1]  A Testament is a body of information, where a Covenant is a binding agreement between two parties.

[2]  The fact that the popular heretic Marcion (ca. 150 AD) took serious exception to this view illustrates its presence in early Church teachings.  See my article “Marcion Marches On”

[3]  Luke 24:27,  John 5:46  1st Corinthians 10:4  etc.

[4]  Articles dealing more specifically with this identification are: Who IS the God of the Old Testament? and The Doctrine of ‘ the Father and the Son’

[5]  “…Sin is the transgression of the law.”  1st John 3:4

[6]  Many take technical exception to this passage as having valid application to the second coming, as it refers to the sons of Levi functioning in official capacities.  Rejection of and ignorance of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and His Saints on earth leaves them with no awareness of the purpose of this purification. (Another fundamentalist error addressed under separate headings.)  This new administration will have physical performances by a physical priesthood designed to orient the unconverted worshipper to the Christ.  (Gal. 3:24)

[7]  Romans 8:7

[8]  Ezekiel 17:20,  18:29-32


Request these Related topics:


  “We are NOT ‘Under the Law’!

   “Growing in the Grace of our Lord”

   “What MUST I Do?  (Is any performance required?)”

   “Marcion Marches On”

   “And So, All Israel Shall be Saved”

   “Oh, For the LOVE of God”

   “The Faulty Logic of Antinomianism”