Was the New Testament covenant given in the Old Testament?

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One covenant for all ages

All through the ages, there was no New Testament covenant or Old Testament covenant. The Lord had only one covenant and one way of salvation – that is through faith in the blood of the Messiah. For the Lord in the OT proclaimed, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). The Lord gave His heart covenant to His ancient people. And the promises of blessings were conditional upon their spiritual and moral transformation.

The Lord began teaching His children that the goal of His plan of salvation was to bring their lives in line with His character. However, the goal was given tangibly, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:5, 6).

Failure due to unbelief

At that time, the Israelites didn’t fully comprehend God’s purpose. And they said, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8). Regrettably, the Israelites did not progress in their spiritual learning. They only understood the importance of obedience. And they tried to gain God’s favor by an external obedience to His law. But the Lord desired them to see the importance of having a heart religion and the need to seek God’s strength for obedience.

Except for few individual cases, the general failing attitude of the Israelites continued throughout the OT period (Ezekiel 16:60). The Israelites did not understand that without divine strength and a change of heart they could not achieve the necessary obedience. In mercy, the Lord sent His prophets to call the people for renewing their relationship with Him but the people rejected their messages. In fact, the people rebelled against God. And finally, they had to reap the consequences of their rebellion which was defeat from their enemies and captivity.

Victory through faith in Christ

However, Israel’s unfaithfulness didn’t change the faithfulness of God. For in the NT era, He reaffirmed His covenant saying, “Behold, the days are coming, says 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 did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:8–10).

Today, there is a serious danger that people will still choose to live under the conditions of the old covenant. They know that obedience is a necessary condition to salvation, but their efforts to obedience are motivated by un-sanctified hearts. They attempt to keep the law by their own efforts. So, they fail. And they become greatly discouraged and cry out, “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24). But if in the time of despair, they look up to Jesus for help, then that which “the law could not do,” the Lord Himself enables them to do (Romans 8:3). Thus, by the indwelling of Christ in their hearts, the “requirements of the law” become fulfilled in them (Romans 8:4).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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