Christian Churches of God
The Covenant of God
(Edition 1.2 19960217-19991204)
A common fallacy is that God has made completely different covenants in Old Testament times and in the New Testament era. This paper examines the purpose of the Covenant and its involvement with Abraham, Israel at Sinai, and New Testament Christians.
Christian Churches of God
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(Copyright ã 1996, 1999 Wade Cox)
(Summary 2003, Ed. Wade Cox)
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The Covenant of God
God has a definite plan for humanity. His annual feast days depict what He is doing and they act as a reminder to us. Our responsibilities are found in the covenant God made with Israel. Originally the covenant agreement was confined to Israel, His chosen people, but is now extended in Jesus Christ, God’s first resurrected son, to include all nations. All peoples of the world will eventually have the opportunity to become sons of God in Israel. If we keep the covenant we will receive the promise of eternal life.
Deuteronomy 28 lists the national blessings and curses incurred for keeping, or failing to keep the covenant. God’s promises to Abraham extended down to the physical nation of Israel. The name Israel is derived from the Hebrew, meaning He shall rule as God (El). This name reflects the ultimate purpose of God’s covenant. The elect shall rule as elohim (see the paper The Elect As Elohim (No. 1)). God wanted His people to be a righteous nation, an example and blessing to the whole planet. This would be achieved by their obedience to His commandments (Deut. 26:18-19).
They were to live by every word of God (Deut. 30:15-20; 32:46-47). Sadly Israel was unable to keep their side of the covenant with God. They did not obey, or have faith in the One True God, Eloah, and turned in their disobedience to idolatry of foreign gods. This ultimately led to disaster, captivity and scattering through the nations. It wasn’t that the covenant was not perfect; God knew they would fail, but through their example was teaching future generations that the human mind without the Holy Spirit couldn’t do it.
Upon our repentance and baptism we are given the Holy Spirit from God to use to keep our side of the covenant. It shows how serious our calling is and what is expected of us (1Cor.10:5-13) and shows the consequences of disobedience (Heb. 2:3;12:25). God foretold of the second covenant through His servants the prophets. It is the same covenant, being second in order, an extension of the first, and operating on a higher level (Jer. 31:31-40). It would be written on the hearts and minds of the people so that the law can be kept. It does not eliminate the law, but perfects the application within the individual, so they willingly execute the will of God through His law.
The first covenant was physical, the second is spiritual, based on the same laws. God promises to be our God and we are His people. He is dealing with the spiritual nation of Israel now, which is God’s Church. Our baptism is our promise to adhere to the covenant. We renew this promise annually when we take the Lord’s Supper at Passover. The original physical sign was that of circumcision with Israel, now it is the circumcision of the heart within the Church (Col. 2:11; Rom. 2:29). The Church keeps all the commandments and laws of God. They are the people who walk through the narrow gate and the hard way of life in this age (Mat.7:13-14). Few find it now. God will give them a homeland forever, which is eternal life in the kingdom of God.
We must know the One True God and His son Jesus Christ to receive this promise (Jn.17:3; 1Jn.5:20). True Christians must keep the commandments. Obedience brings spiritual blessings (Mat. 4:4; Jn. 14:15; Rev. 12:17, 14:12). The commandments were given to physical Israel through Moses by the Angel of Yahweh, who later became Jesus Christ.
Christians should be a blessing to the nations by their example and teaching of the truth, which will lead to the ultimate salvation of all peoples (Acts 13:47). Christ tests the faithfulness of His followers as they are under judgement now (1Pet. 1:7, 4:17). We are required to keep the law as we are judged by it (Jas. 1:25, 2:8-12). The real difference between the old and new covenant is the Holy Spirit. Without it we cannot please God; we cannot repent or grow in the knowledge of the One True God and correctly worship Him.
Unfortunately, many in the twentieth century believe God is a trinity and worship His son, which is in breach of the first commandment. This disqualifies them from entering the kingdom of God in the first resurrection. They are like physical Israel that could not enter the promised land because of disbelief and disobedience (Heb. 3:16-19). The two parties in the new covenant are God and modern Israel, the children of Abraham, the spiritual descendants in the Church who hear and obey God’s word (Jn. 8:39-47). They are the children of promise (Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:7; 1Jn. 5:1-10); a spiritual nation called out by God and given to His son Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:10).
God keeps His covenant towards those who love and fear Him. He protects His people as He leads them to their inheritance (Ps. 50:3-6). They are the korban of the feasts, but are persecuted for their commitment to the covenant (Rev. 12:17,14:12). They are part of the active army of God aimed at overthrowing the spiritual powers that rule the nations of this planet now, in opposition to the laws of God. This warfare is spiritual, although the consequences now are physical. True Christians are the army of God under their commander Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:12; Job 25:3). This war is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers and rulers of darkness of this world now. The fight is of faith and witness of God’s way of life in a world system ruled by Satan (2Tim. 2:3-4).
The forces of this world and the evil system in place now will eventually be replaced after the huge wars of the last days. Everything will be replaced by the righteous and just rule of Jesus Christ and the covenant keepers who are resurrected to elohim status at His return. God will only fight with and for Israel, now the Church, if they are loyal to Him and His commandments.
The satanic deception to eliminate the old covenant and do away with God’s commandments, as taught by the anti-law faction of modern Christianity, places a false way of thinking on this planet. Thus the Church was subverted by the evil of lies and lack of knowledge, which nearly destroyed it. The truth is only held by a few now. The survival of Israel in the last days is dependent upon conversion and entry into the army of God. God cleanses by trial through war and captivity, but He will have mercy and not forsake His people. He will keep the covenant with us; we had better keep it with Him!