Sinai Covenant- only half-gone?
(by Sam Pestes)
This simple question
continues to divide the Christian community as no other.
When Jesus nailed
the Sinai Covenant to the cross, did He miss part of it?
When God speaks
of a new [covenant or agreement], He makes the first
one obsolete- out
of use. And what is obsolete- out of use and annulled
because of age-
is ripe for disappearance and to be dispensed with altogether.
Why was the Sinai
(Old) Covenant dispensed with?
For if that
first covenant had been without defect, there would have been no room
for another one or an attempt to institute another one.
However He finds
fault with them, [showing its inadequacy], when He says, Behold, the days
will come, says the Lord, when I will make and ratify a new covenant or
agreement with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
Hebrews 8:7,8 (Amp).
The terms "old" and
"new", in this case, do not refer to the order in
which those covenants were presented by God. Rather, they refer
to the order in which they were finalized, or "confirmed",
one by the blood of animals, the other by the blood of Christ when He
died on the cross.
the covenant God gave to Abraham complete and sufficient to meet
the challenge of saving the human race from sin, or did it need amending
by the covenant God later made with Israel at Mount Sinai? Galatians
3:15 tells us that,
…Just as no one
can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly
established, so it is in this case. (Emphasis supplied).
Why, then, did God
give Israel the law at Mount Sinai? Was it not to convince them that they
were sinners, and in need of a savior from outside of themselves?
What, then, was
the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until
the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. Verse 19.
One of the main impediments
to clear thinking on this subject is the misconception that when the New
Testament speaks of "the law", or of "the commandments" as in Revelation
12:17, 14:12, 1John 2:3, 3:24 and 1Cor.7:19 it refers specifically to
the 10 commandment law. Some people have been mentally conditioned to
automatically visualize the law on stone every time the see the word "commandment".
That is not so! The Greek word translated "commandments" is usually
the word entole. It simply refers to the "whole counsel
of God", or more specifically to "a thing given in charge". That takes
on fresh meaning when we realize that Jesus’ teaching included far more
than the elementary extracts (10 commandments) taken from God’s eternal
law of the Spirit.
People who are taught
to focus on the Sinai law as the ultimate goal to be reached, lock themselves
far below God’s standard of righteousness. That is why Israel failed.
Their attention was so focused on not sinning, that they had little energy
left for doing good. Jesus illustrated this in the parable of The Good
Samaritan. When we cease our striving, and accept the gift of Christ’s
righteousness, we are freed to forgive and to love. Forgiveness was not
part of the law on stone. Its terms were simply perfection, or death!
(Deuteronomy 6:25). That is why it was eclipsed by the Law of the Spirit.
We remember that Jesus
lived and taught while the Sinai Covenant was still in effect. The transition
from the Old to the New did not take place until Jesus was crucified.
The change from the Old to the New was so dramatic, that the people who
refused to move on with the advancing light of the Gospel of grace, saw
the New Testament church as law breakers, and persecuted them as the enemies
of God. Paul himself was a victim of that blinding indoctrination until
God miraculously set him free on the road to Damascus.
Old Covenant laws,
and even the sanctuary structure itself, were only symbols, or shadows
of the much more glorious plan of salvation. Hebrews 8:5 tells us that,
at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.
The purpose of the
Sinai Covenant and the sanctuary services was to illustrate to Israel
the provision God had made for their redemption. When the Messiah died,
their usefulness was fulfilled, according to Jesus’ prediction in Matthew
Do not think that
I have come to do away with or undo the Law and the prophets; I have not
come to do away with or undo, but to complete and fulfill them.
What do Jesus’ words
tell us? First, His life and ministry were proof that He was the Messiah
to whom all the prophets pointed. In that sense, He was the fulfillment
of their predictions. His life did not destroy their prophecies, but fulfilled
and verified them.
Secondly, His life
was the full expression of the Law of the Spirit, which not only covered
the elementary expressions of the law on stone, but rose far above them.
He was love incarnate! He not only fulfilled and satisfied the simple
demands of the elementary version of the law given to Israel, but He lifted
the lid and showed them that even if they could have satisfied those demands
(which they couldn’t), they would still have only begun. He lived His
life to perfection, and became our perfection! Just because He eclipsed
that law does not mean that He destroyed it. It simply vanished from
sight as the moon does in the mid-day sun. Hebrews 8:13. Who misses
the moonlight at noon?
God’s Word asks us
to focus not on the laws (covenant) of Moses, but on Him who became our
Redeemer. 2Corinthians 3:15 warns us that only by looking to Jesus can
the veil that comes with the Mosaic Covenant be lifted from our eyes.
Even to this
day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
But whenever anyone
turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
The Bible is clear
that the entire Mosaic (Sinai or Old) Covenant was fulfilled and
terminated on the cross of Christ. There is no indication in Scripture
that it was split into sections, and that part of it survived. How, then,
does this affect the 10 commandments?