The Covenants and Communion


By Ray Foster 

 

Scripture: Hebrews 8:7-13

A covenant is a formal, solemn and binding agreement between two parties. God took the initiative and entered into a covenant with Israel at Sinai. We read in Exodus 19: 3-8:

 

"And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and [how] I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine:

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.

And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD."

 

This is what is commonly called the "old covenant". There are two characteristics of the old covenant. The first is the condition of the people. Their condition was revealed by what they told Moses after they heard the conditions of the covenant. Exodus 20:18, 19 "And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw [it], they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die."

The response of Moses is in the next verse: Exodus 20:20 "And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not."

It is sin that has separated us from God. God does not and can’t accept sin and the separation from Him that sin causes. So God has designed a way to end sin in our lives. Keeping God and the reverence and respect or fear of God ever before our faces will end sin in our lives. Sin is not something that we are. Sin is something we do. By God’s grace we can stop doing that. Keeping the reverence and respect for God ever before our faces will end sin in our lives. But this was what Israel did not see the necessity of doing. The had become used to being slaves. They still thought like slaves. "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do" is what they said. Then they said, Moses, you tell us what God wants. Don’t let God talk to us or we will die! It was not the covenant. It was not the conditions of the covenant. It was the fear of God and the mindset of a slave that the people had that led to their breaking the covenant with God. And beloved, let us not have the mind of a slave. Let us not tell God by our actions or with our words: "Don’t you talk to me God. I’ll die if you do. Let the pastor tell me what to do, and I’ll do it!" The way we become sons and daughters of the Great King, is to keep His reverence and respect ever before our faces. II Corinthians 3:18 "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord."

The words: "new covenant" is only found three times in Scripture. The first is Jeremiah 31:31-34 "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

 

Under the old covenant God wanted to keep Himself before the eyes of this nation of slaves in the pillar of fire at night and the cloud by day. He wrote His law on saffire stone with His own finger. He was literally, visible, and at times audibly with them day and night. But they were afraid of Him and said they did not want to hear God’s voice. They did not keep God before their faces continually.

 

In the new covenant, God comes even closer to the individual. He says, I want to come inside your heart and mind. I will right my will on your thoughts and emotions by my Spirit. The covenant is the same. The conditions of the covenant are the same. The only difference between the old and new covenant is the nearness of God. Instead of being physically, visibly or audibly in sight and within hearing, God knocks at the door of our hearts and wants to gain entrance to our minds and emotions. God wants to change us from the inside out by His Spirit. Will we let Him? Will we by faith see God ever before our faces and ever in our minds and emotions. If we keep God ever before us He will write His will on our hearts and minds. This is the new covenant.

 

The other two texts are in the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews 8:7 - 12 "For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

"For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

"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 continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

"For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

"And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

 

"The last place the words "new covenant" are found in the Bible are Hebrews 12:18 -29 "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

"And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which [voice] they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

"(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

"And so terrible was the sight, [that] Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.

"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:

"Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

"And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

"For our God [is] a consuming fire."

 

We are celebrating communion today. I read from Desire of Ages page 656:

 

"In partaking with His disciples of the bread and wine, Christ pledged Himself to them as their Redeemer. He committed to them the new covenant, by which all who receive Him become children of God, and joint heirs with Christ. By this covenant every blessing that heaven could bestow for this life and the life to come was theirs. This covenant deed was to be ratified with the blood of Christ. And the administration of the Sacrament was to keep before the disciples the infinite sacrifice made for each of them individually as a part of the great whole of fallen humanity." {DA 656.5}

 

As we partake of the symbols of the broken body of Jesus and His spilt blood, let us see Jesus and keep Him ever in our hearts and minds. May we may receive the double cure: forgiveness for past sins, and let Jesus write His law, His will on our hearts and minds to end sin in our lives.