“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Hebrews 9:16-17
Covenants are confirmed by sacrifice: the old covenant by the deaths of animals, the new by the death of Christ.
In fact, Christ was the Mediator of His own covenant. He was the One who sprinkled the blood of the Covenant – His own blood – on the Mercy Seat.
This tells us the New Covenant of Jesus Christ – the covenant by which we are redeemed in Him – came into force, became the covenant of grace for us, upon His resurrection. For He, the resurrected Christ, had to ratify the covenant Himself.
When scripture tells us that the “prophets and law prophesied” until John the Baptist, it is revealing that John was the last of the Old Covenant prophets, a voice in the wilderness announcing the appearance of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose Kingdom was “at hand.”
In other words, prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Old Covenant was in effect, even though the Kingdom of God had been brought to Earth in Jesus. The disciples of Christ who walked with Him daily were not yet born again even though they believed, they left everything for Him, they followed Him, and were even given authority to cast out devils in His name.
Jesus conferred upon His disciples much favor during the three years He walked with them, but it was only on the very day of His resurrection that they were born again, as “He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” And it was only after His ascension, on the day of Pentecost, that they were completely filled with the Holy Ghost.
Now, why go through all of this?
This is a reminder to us all that, along with these original disciples, we who follow Jesus Christ through the Spirit of Christ, are part of the promised generation whose hearts have been made tender enough to walk in genuine repentance and loving obedience, and to be called the Temple of the Living God.
We have what the Bible calls “a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”
Why, then, do we persist in looking at the faults and sins of men such as King David and Solomon, the weaknesses of Moses and Aaron, the disobedience of Jonah, the failures of Abraham and Sarah, the wrong deeds of the patriarchs, the weakness of Sampson, and the failures of disciples before the cross, using their failures to justify our sins and disobedience to the Holy Spirit of God, as if we have no better advantages than they had?
We are not more loved than they, but we are graced with greater and more precious promises than they were. With grace and the Holy Spirit in us, we have the capability to live without spot or blemish. And scripture tells us, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48
We have been given much more than our Old Covenant predecessors, and because of that, God will hold us accountable for what we’ve done with the great gifts and precious promises we have been given.
In John 15:22, Jesus declared, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” (World English Bible)
He has spoken much more to us than to the Old Covenant forefathers. God has spoken to us through scriptures by His Holy Spirit, which is virtually no different than how He spoke to the prophets of older times. We have seen the Messiah in the Word; we know who He is, and we know His voice. We have received great promises from Him. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, far more so than the prophets of old had.
Don’t you think it’s time we quit comparing ourselves to the Old Covenant men and women who “received not the promise,” and who had no ability to conquer sin?
Of course it’s time. We must begin to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” for He is the One to whom we must compare ourselves.