The requirements of holiness are highly, highly detailed. Any person who goes through the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible), quickly comes to a realization of what God holds for righteousness. Plainly put, the standard is absolutely and full perfection. As we read through the requirements, we cannot help but come to the conclusion that we are, indeed, sinful and imperfect people. There is no standard based on our behavior that claims we are not sinful people. The problem of humanity is indeed sin and the consequences of that sin results only in death. In our sins, we are as good as dead.
Yet, God makes all things new. Throughout the whole of the Old Covenant, God established a relationship with His people based on their ability to hold tightly to the covenant. God handed down the specific regulations of not only their behavior of also in proper worship and temple sacrifices by His own finger to Moses. He appeared before Abraham. He took residence among His people. God could have easily abandoned a sinful and rebellious people and left them to their sin. But, for a God who loves, saving His people would be the better goal. The covenants previously established would fade away in exchange for new covenants.
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
The author of Hebrews connects the prophesies of old with the works of Jesus Christ. For the old prophets, God revealed a future where the old covenant would disappear and a new covenant would be established. Where people once studied the word of God, in the new covenant, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the covenant would become a part of their DNA and their very identity. The sins will be forgiveness and they will be established for eternity. The old will be made new and restoration will come for the people. Through Jesus Christ, the Old Covenant established between God and His people will be fulfilled and a new covenant will be established by the grace of God. Our response to this new covenant is nothing short of following wherever God leads us and submitting to His will.
The Fulfillment of the Old Covenant
At the outset of the Abrahamic Covenant, Abraham was fast asleep rather than being an activity participant. In passing between the cut-up pieces of the animals, it signified that should the requirements of the Old Covenant not be met, that the punishment of death would fall to God. Abraham, being asleep could not agree to the terms and thus, God, while being a King and a Sovereign, agreed to bear the consequences. The Old Covenant required man to be fully obedient and blameless before God. Imperfection cannot continue to exist in the face of overwhelming, Godly, holiness. It is a spiritual impossibility. Thus, for the Old Covenant, while the people’s hearts desired connection, it was undeserved and unmerited. The people were not holy, nor could they. The people could not bear the weight of the requirements and would perish under the consequences.Christ died to fulfill the requirements of a covenant that we could not keep so that we could rest in the grace of the new covenant. Click To Tweet
Yet, God did not allow this to go unnoticed. The people were not Holy by any stretch of the imagination, but the solution for God was not to let them perish under their own actions. Instead, the Old Covenant was fulfilled by the actions of Jesus Christ. Sin demanded death as its consequences and for perfection, only the sacrifice of a perfect lamb would be acceptable. Thus, our personal death would be insufficient to earn our salvation but merely to account for the sins we committed. Jesus, our perfect lamb, bore the punishments of all mankind and extended the offer of salvation to all who would accept it. Christ died to fulfill the requirements of a covenant that we could not keep so that we could rest in the grace of the new covenant.
A Response to The New Covenant
Yet, as the writer of Hebrews makes clear in His quotation of Jeremiah, we will move beyond mere obedience as the source of our salvation. The idea is not that we will do what is good and be saved by our actions. Instead, the idea is that because we are saved by the works of Jesus Christ, we are born anew and righteousness springs forth out from us. In coming to Jesus Christ and making ourselves one with Him, we can see our sin for what it is; sin. No longer is it something we reluctantly and half-heartedly give up, but instead it is filth that must go from our lives. In pushing deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ, we let go of our sin and even our desire to sin. We are made knew. The word isn’t simply a book that we read but it is a guiding force that is etched into our spiritual flesh, being written on our hearts and in our minds.When we encounter the grace of the New Covenant, our only response can be to submit to the will and authority of God knowing full well that He desires to save us. Click To Tweet
When we encounter the grace of the New Covenant, our only response can be to submit to the will and authority of God knowing full well that He desires to save us. The Old Covenant was not evil as it came from God. But it did result in our full and utter destruction and this was not good enough for a God who loves His creation. So, we submit to the will of God, even if we do not understand it. Understanding is no prerequisite for obedience. So, we submit to the will of God and allow the spirit to move and work inside of us because he is the author of creation and newness of life. Our God makes all things knew and, although the process of sanctification may be painful, we are stronger because of it. We have been plucked from the grasp of death and made new.