Covenants in the Bible
Lesson 05 – A Kingdom of Priests
Today we are going to study the covenant God made with Moses and the Israelites. This covenant is also known in Christian circles as the Old Covenant.
Let’s turn to Exodus 19:1-8 and read together.
In this passage, God made an offer to establish a covenant between the children of Israel and Himself. Moses relayed the offer and the children of Israel accepted, saying, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do."
Let’s turn to Exodus 24:48 and Deuteronomy 31:26 and read together.
The covenant between God and the children of Israel was ratified with burnt offerings and peace offerings of oxen. Moses read the covenant to the people one more time and they reiterated their acceptance, saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses then put the Book of Law, which contained the words of the covenant in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary next to the Ark of the Covenant as a reminder to the people.
A lot has been said about the failure of the Old Covenant, but can you see that at the heart of the Old Covenant was God’s desire to make a people who would be bearers of the everlasting Gospel message to all the nations of the world? God’s people were to be a nation of priests. Everyone, not just the Levitical priesthood, had the responsibility of sharing God’s law, love, and truth to other people around them (Psalms 67:1-2; Isaiah 51:4).
Let’s turn to Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 10:16-17 and read together.
So, why did the Old Covenant fail (Isaiah 26:18)? Was there a flaw in the wording of the covenant? Or some failure on God’s part? The Bible clearly says no! (Deuteronomy 4:4-8; Isaiah 42:21; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:32). The failure of the Old Covenant was on the part of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:8; Matthew 26:41).
Over time, the people of Israel externalized their covenant with God into formalized rituals and sacrifices, but they did not have an internal heart conversion (1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11-17; 43:23-24; Jeremiah 7:21-26). They had an outward form of godliness, but denied its true power (Matthew 15:8; 2 Timothy 3:5). This was Jesus’ main contention with the Pharisees. He rebuked them for honoring God with their lips, but not obeying Him wholeheartedly through their actions (Matthew 23:23; Mark 7:6-13).
Did the New Covenant change any of God’s laws as most Christians believe? Jesus ratified the New Covenant with His blood on the cross at Calvary (Matthew 26:28; Galatians 3:15; Hebrews 9:16-17). Jesus did not change any of God’s laws, including the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3; Isaiah 66:22-23). In fact, Jesus upheld God’s law while He was on earth (Genesis 2:1-3; Matthew 5:17-18).
The purpose of the New Covenant was to empower people to keep their part of the covenant through the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot be righteous on our own strength (Romans 8:3-4, 7). Jesus promises to give us the strength to keep our part of the covenant (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27; Philippians 2:13; 4:13). The New Covenant is all about heart conversion (Psalms 40:8; 1 John 5:3; Hebrews 13:20-21).
Friend, we are still called on God today to be a nation of priests. The job of evangelism and sharing the Gospel is not limited to just your local pastor. You and I are both called to share what Jesus did for us and all of humanity. When we put our trust and faith in Jesus, He will change our hearts and give us the strength to follow God’s laws (Matthew 11:29-30; John 14:15; Hebrews 10:16-17).
Friend, are you willing to take up your priestly calling?