Thursday, January 23, 2014

Covenant vs. Commandment (Hebrews 8:7-13)

"We've all sinned"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

We got snow!  We got 15 inches.  Instead of exercising on the stationary bike, I went out and shoveled the snow.  It was fluffy snow, so not too hard to clean up.   Now the roads from New Jersey to New York City are icy.  We don't do so good out here in icy.  When there's no traffic jam it means "floor it," or "free at last!" Oy!  It would be good to say a prayer for our people and our Governor (I wrote one at the end of this post).

I want to make a snowman with the kids next door, but it's powder.  We'll get more snow tonight.  I've always loved surprises so I like to scoop out the neighbors snow too.  Guess I'm still a kid at 53.

This passage is challenging, I had to break out a dictionary of all things!  In order to understand this passage I looked up some word meanings:
Covenant: a formal, solemn, and binding agreement.
Commandment:  the act or power of commanding, something that is commanded.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

I did some more research on how Jesus' covenant is different from the original commandments.  It turns out God's original covenant with man required sacrifice for sin.  This was usually lambs.  Sin is anything that is out of the will of God.  In some cases breaking one of the 10 Commandments resulted in death.  We know Mary who bore Jesus could've been stoned to death because she was pregnant and not married.  But God sent her and Joseph to Bethlehem to pay taxes.

So, when Jesus was crucified the last sacrifice was made.  I read that historically, 40 years after Jesus was crucified the whole temple building was destroyed by Romans.  There was no place for sacrifices to be made so they were stopped.  Some destruction took place in the temple when Jesus' body died on the cross, like the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in two.

So, God's first covenant with man was if we broke the 10 Commandments, we had to make a sacrifice.  Or be punished by death. It's interesting, sacrifices were made on regular, scheduled times.  This implies that people have been sinning since the beginning. It became expected that animal sacrifices had to made.  What caused it was Eve's decision to know the difference between good and evil by eating the apple.  And then Adam gave it a try too.

Hebrews 8:7-13
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says:“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 
God changed the covenant/contract with us.  His commandments were never removed.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord, ’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
We have access to the Bible in almost all languages now : )  I believe this is describing both here on earth and in the new kingdom that God is going to provide.  It will be a new Heaven and earth.  His commandments will be in our hearts, and our minds.  I have found memorizing verses really helps me out when I get down.

Today we have this promise:
23 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation (gain or regain favor) by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Romans 3:23-26 NKJV)

Since we have such an awesome God: who became the sacrifice for our sin, we can seek and find forgiveness, a new beginning in our lives.  So let's all lift up our heads and give Him praise!
Lift up your head, by Jars of Clay (link) 

Here's my prayer for the Winter Olympics and stuff:

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up this event to you.  I pray You will protect all who are there and expose the deeds of the terrorists before they are accomplished.  Point them out to the security people.  I pray for Governor Christie.  Thank you for providing a leader who actually cried when he saw the devestation in New Jersey after the hurricane.  We are grateful for him.  Please protect him from selfish politicians.  Guide our country to have compassion and care for each other once again.  I pray for those in Congress that You will give them courage to be noble and seek what's right for our people and the world.  We need You now more than ever.  Thank You for our wonderful country.  And help our NJ drivers drive wisely in the ice, grant them peace instead of anxiety.
 In Jesus Name, Amen.

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