Out with the Old, In with the New

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 30

imagesJeremiah and Ezekiel both introduce New Covenant components in their messages: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:33). “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. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ez. 36:26-27).

In these well-known passages, God establishes the truth that He will make a new covenant with His people, to perform what the old covenant could not. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that God found fault with the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:8). What are these faults?

  • Its mediator is imperfect (human priest)
  • Its sacrifice is incomplete (an animal)
  • Its altar is earthly (in a fallen world tainted by sin)
  • It can’t make dead men alive to God (sin separates, and no law can repair the broken relationship between God and man – Gal. 3:20)
  • It cannot remove the problem (sin in the heart)

The Old Covenant merely exposed man’s sin. It provided no lasting means to remove it.
The writer of Hebrews describes the superiority of the New Covenant:

  • It has a better sanctuary (heaven), a better priest (the God-man Jesus), a better offering (Eternal Lamb) that brings about a better result (remission of sin, defeat of death and the enemy), founded on better promises.
  • It is perfectly designed to do what the Old Covenant cannot; it makes dead men alive and gives them the perfect righteousness of God Himself.

Whereas the Old Covenant condemned, the New Covenant redeems. The gospel of grace wins over our hearts because it is more piercing in exposing our sin, but it is infinitely more gracious in removing it completely. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:34b); “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them . . . . I will deliver you from all your uncleanness” (Ez. 36:27, 29).

The new covenant makes the old covenant obsolete. Ezekiel therefore has hope in the midst of captivity. Without a promise from God, man has no hope.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ez. 34:1-36:38):
The Lord uses the imagery of shepherd and flock to describe the failure of the Israel’s leaders. What contrasts does He make between His shepherding and their shepherding? How does He express His shepherd heart for His flock?
What reason does the LORD give for His judgment of Edom?
How does the LORD view Israel’s behavior before the nations? How does He view their treatment of the land of their inheritance?