The Sunset pastor on Sunday continued our series, “Covenant Life, Covenant Duties, Covenant Blessings,” with a message, “Out with the Old: Moses’ Old Covenant.” The text was from 2 Corinthians 3:14: “The same veil remains when the old covenant is read…. Only in Christ is it taken away.”
Did you ever have someone in your life—parent, spouse or boss—for whom you had a lot of respect, and with whom you would like to have had a positive relationship, but from whom you never got any affirmation or approval? Everything you did seemed to be inadequate—never enough, never perfect. That is a sad state of affairs.
The Old Covenant was sort of like that—with God’s people never quite able to measure up to high standard of a holy law.
The pastor made three points: (1) What was the Old Covenant? (2) What was Good about it? (3) Why was it Inadequate?
(1) What was the Old Covenant? V14, “To this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.” A covenant in the Bible is an agreement between God and his human creation—whether with Noah, Abraham, Moses, or the new covenant embodied in Jesus.
The Old Covenant was symbolized by the Ten Commandments, which Paul here says were (v7) “engraved in letters on stone.” God gave the law; it was his part of the agreement. Our part was to obey his law.
The Old Covenant was summed up in Galatians 3:12, quoting Leviticus 18:5: “The man who does these things will live by them.” That’s it: God gives the law, we obey it, and when we do, we’re in an unbroken relationship with our Creator and fit for heaven: that’s the Old Covenant.
(2) What was Good about the Old Covenant?
(a) V7, the Old Covenant came with glory, so much so that when Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai, Moses’ face radiated the glory of God because he had been in the presence of the Lord.
So when he spoke with the people, he covered his face with a veil.
(b) The Old Covenant Law given by God was a good law. Romans 7:12: “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”
Examples were: “Honor your father and mother; You shall not steal; you shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery”—all good laws from a holy God. The closer we live by these laws, the more blessed we will be. God’s part of the bargain was good.
(3) Why was the Old Covenant Inadequate? Why “out with the old”?
The Old Covenant was a fine law given by God, but it was inadequate for us fallen humans because we’ve all failed to live up to its high standard.
Paul wrote, Galatians 3:11: “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law…. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.”
How did God’s good law become a curse for us? It has to do with man’s part of the agreement.
Paul, in Romans 7:10: “The very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” It brought death because of our sin—our failure to keep God’s holy law.
It’s sort of like the work of a school teacher. The teacher gives a test to the students, and when it comes back, most of the time there are some red marks on the test, Xs which indicate where we went wrong.
Galatians 3:24: So “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” Through the law we understand that God is holy, and by reading in the Old Covenant, we know that (Romans 15:4) “What was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Thank God for His New Covenant grace in Jesus, which we’ll look at next week!
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.” [Psalm 96:4]
May the Lord be great in your life this week—and worthy of your praise—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.