What are the differences between the “Old” Covenant and the “New” Covenant?

Hebrews 8:13, Ready to vanish away. Many who read this verse assume that the writer is saying that the Torah-law was ready to vanish away ergo the law has been done away. This belief is orthodox Christianity! But is this what the author is saying here? Read it again? Is he saying that the law is vanishing away or the covenant is vanishing away? The latter! 

So what is the difference between the former and latter covenants? The covenant was nothing more than a contract between YHVH and the people of Israel that he made with them at Mount Sinai (Exod 19–24). Think of a modern contract (e.g. buying a car, a house or agreeing to pay for services rendered). A contract is nothing more than an agreement between two or more parties. Then you have the terms of the contract. If one party fails to keep up his end of the agreement, does that mean that the terms of the contract are evil? Not at all. It means that one party failed to keep his word and the contract was then voided. The same was true with the contract of the “Old Covenant” that YHVH made with the Israelites. The terms were that if they would worship him and obey his Torah-laws, he would bless them, and if not, he would punish them. They agreed to these terms three times (Exod 19:8; 24:3,7), yet they ended up not keeping their word and instead worshipped false gods and broke his laws again and again. After hundreds of years of unfaithfulness, they finally totally abandoned YHVH. The covenant was broken for good. 

But did Israel’s unfaithfulness to his Torah-laws mean that his instructions in righteousness were evil, or rather that their hearts were evil? Logic dictates the answer to be the latter. To say that the Torah was evil and needed to be obliterated (or done away with) is like saying when you get a speeding ticket, the laws prohibiting speeding should be eliminated. Of course, this is absurd, and so it is to say that the laws of YHVH need to be eliminated because the people violated the covenant thus rendering it null and void.

Here are some more observation on the subject of the Old Covenant vanishing away and giving way to the New Covenant:

Continue reading
 

New Covenant or Renewed Covenant? What Are Its Terms and Conditions?

Matthew 26:28, New testament. 

Did you ever wonder where the terms New Testament or New Covenant came from? Yes, you will find these phrases used in the Testimony of Yeshua portion of your English Bible in exactly nine places (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24), but does the English translation do justice to the Hebrew and Greek words behind them and to the biblical concept of the “New Covenant” as it is commonly called? 

Let’s begin to answer this question by first asking a question. When you think of the word new, what comes to your mind? A brand new car? A new house? A new pair of shoes? 

You see, in English there is one common word for new, while Greek and Hebrew have more than one word for new. While English speakers are limited to one word, they nuance the meaning of new by adding qualifiers to the word new (e.g. brand new as opposed to used but it’s new to me) to differentiate between brand new versus new to me, or refurbished or repaired new. 

In the Testimony of Yeshua, there are two Greek words for new: neos and kainos, and each one has Continue reading


 

Hebrews 8:8—Who was at fault? Elohim or the Israelites?

Hebrews 8:8, Finding fault with them. What was the fault of the first covenant? The Torah-law of Elohim, or the people who failed to abide by the terms of the covenant, i.e, the Torah? The next verse gives us the answer: “because they continued not in my covenant…” The Israelites were at fault.

YHVH gave Israel his Torah-laws (or instructions in righteousness) to teach them how to love him and to love their neighbors (Mark 12:29–31). If they followed his Torah-instructions, he promised to bless them (Deut 28:1–14), and declared that all would go well with them (Deut 4:30).

Of course, we know the sad history of ancient Israel and how they rebelled against YHVH again and again. There was nothing wrong with his Torah laws, which said, you shall not murder, steal, commit adultery, lie, covet, kidnap, commit homosexuality or incest, worship false gods, take YHVH’s name in vain, keep his Sabbaths, don’t practice divination, honor your parents and so on. What’s wrong with these? Nothing. The fault was with the people who failed to abide by these standards of righteousness, and this is exactly what the author of Hebrews is saying here.

Because the people broke their contractual or covenantal agreement with YHVH and literally abandoned him for false gods, he was forced to make a new covenant with other people who would have the heart and love and obey him.

This is exactly what Jeremiah prophesied would occur, and the writer of Hebrews is simply quoting Jeremiah in this passage.

What is the main difference between the first and second covenants? As the Israelites of old didn’t have the heart to obey YHVH because of the hardness (or carnality) of their hearts (Heb 3:8, 15; 4:2, 7), YHVH promised through Jeremiah to renew his covenant with the descendants of the ancient Israelites (i.e. the house of Israel and the house of Judah, Jer 31:31; Heb 8:8), but this time, by his Spirit, he would write his Torah-laws on their hearts and in their inward parts, so they wouldn’t resist obeying him, but would desire to be pleasing in his sight. So the fault was with the hard-hearted Israelites, not with YHVH standards of righteousness called his Torah-laws!


 

Do you fully discern the Lord’s body?


 

Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made/cut a covenant with me by sacrifice. (Psalm 50:5

Psalms 50:5, Made/cut a covenant…by sacrifice. This refers to the method by which covenants were made in ancient times between two parties. This same ritual occurred when YHVH made (or cut) a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 except that YHVH took all the responsibilities for fulfilling the covenant upon himself, for Abraham was asleep when this covenant was cut (Gen 15:9–10, 12). All Abraham had to do was to have faith in YHVH and all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant would fall upon him (Gen 15:6). We know from Paul’s discussion in Romans chapter four that the Abrahamic Covenant is the original biblical model for how an individual can receive salvation from Elohim. We also know that when YHVH made his covenant with Abraham, the vision Abraham had while he was asleep prophetically pointed to Yeshua’s death on the cross and his initiating the new/renewed covenant as prophesied in the Tanakh (e.g. Jer 31:31–33; also see my discussion of Gen 15:12–21 at Abraham’s vision). Yeshua at his last supper and subsequent crucifixion fulfilled this ancient prophecy as well as the spiritual types and shadows discussed in Psalm 50:7 and Genesis 15:9–21. At his last supper, Yeshua made a new covenant with his disciples through his body (the bread) and blood (the wine), which redeemed believers now commemorate when they take communion. 

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26:26–28)

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:24)

Prior to his death on the cross, Yeshua’s predictively explained the significance of his broken body and spilled blood as it relates to covenantal agreement between him and those who would place their faith in him (as Abraham did in Gen 15).

35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.…47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.…50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.…58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:35, 47, 50, 53, 58)

In the context of the Passover service when the saints through the ritual of communion annually commemorate Yeshua’s “cutting” the new covenant with his saints and then ratifying that covenant through his death, Paul has the following to say about the significance of Yeshua’s body:

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Cor 11:26–29)

Those who carelessly take communion are literally disrespecting not only the high value of the covenant that was made (or cut), but the tremendous price of making a covenant with Elohim (i.e. it cost Yeshua his life, and the believer must also die to himself as he accepts, unconditionally, Yeshua as his Lord and Master). Moreover, careless partakers of communion are not only underestimating the cost of their salvation, but the value and the benefits of that salvation, which is spiritual rewards including eternal life. Elohim is not only not duty bound to give immortality to such people, but would be foolish to immortalize people who don’t sufficiently recognize and appreciate the cost and value of covenantal agreement. In doing so, he would risk having another rebellion on his hand at some point in the future.

An ancient relic of crucifixion.

So when Yeshua died on the cross, he become the sacrifice that was cut (i.e. his body was brutally mutilated prior to and during his crucifixion) to which this verse in this Psalm 50 makes allusion. 

Moreover, Abraham not only had faith in YHVH, but he had to walk out that faith the rest of his life, for faith without works is dead (Jas 2:14–26). Similarly, those who place their faith in Yeshua must also back up that faith by doing his words (John 5:24), doing good (John 5:29; 3:21), loving him and keeping his commandments (John 14:15), coming to the light of Elohim’s truth (John 3:20–21), and showing that they are overcoming the word, the flesh and the devil resulting in eternal life and great spiritual rewards in the world to come (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). 

At the same time, those who don’t place their trust in Yeshua by accepting the covenant he “cut” through his death on the cross and then by backing that faith up with good deeds, or those who have “accepted” Yeshua, but lightly esteem him, will have a terrible price to pay.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Cor 11:29–30)

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28–29)

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)


 

New Covenant or Renewed Covenant? What Are Its Terms and Conditions?


Matthew 26:28, New testament.

Did you ever wonder where the terms New Testament or New Covenant came from? Yes, you will find these phrases used in the Testimony of Yeshua portion of your English Bible in exactly nine places (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24), but does the English translation do justice to the Hebrew and Greek words behind them and to the biblical concept of the “New Covenant” as it is commonly called?

Let’s begin to answer this question by first asking a  question. When you think of the word new, what comes to your mind? A brand new car? A new house? A new pair of shoes?

You see, in English there is one common word for new, while Greek and Hebrew have more than one word for new. While English speakers are limited to one word, they nuance the meaning of new by adding qualifiers to the word new (e.g. brand new as opposed to used but it’s new to me) to differentiate between brand new versus new to me, or refurbished or repaired new. 

In the Testimony of Yeshua, there are two Greek words for new: neos and kainos, and each one has a different connotation. Neos more often means “brand new or numerically new,” while kainos means “renewed, refreshed or repaired or qualitatively new.” When you see the term New Covenant or New Testament used, in eight of nine time the authors use kainos. Only in Hebrews 12:24 is neos used in reference to the new covenant.

The Testimony of Yeshua’s preference over using the Greek word for renewed over the Continue reading


 

Abraham’s Vision of the Renewed Covenant

One of the mottos of this ministry is “Connecting the message of the gospel to its Torah roots.” The commentary below on Gen 15:17–18 below is a prime example of this, and is something I love to do.

Why does it bring  me such pleasure? For several reasons. It strengthens my faith in Messiah to see him prophesied about in the Bible thousands of years before his incarnation. It strengthens my faith in the Bible as the Word of Elohim. No one but the supreme sovereign omniscient superior mind of our Creator could have predicted such things long before they occurred. No other religion or religious book on earth contains such marvelous predictions as the Bible. In every way, it points to Elohim and its veracity is validated.

The other day, someone commented on my YouTube channel that it is pure human imagination to envision Yeshua prophesied about in the Tanach, that he isn’t in there. Then this sad soul went on to blather that Yeshua is not the Messiah, etc., etc. ad nauseam. The Bible says not to answer a fool according to his folly, for he will simply trample the pearls of truth like a swine shooting around in the muddy swill of his blind existence. There is none so blind as he refuses to see!

May the discussion below strengthen your faith in the Bible, in YHVH Elohim and in Yeshua the Messiah!  Natan

In Genesis 15:17–18a, we read,

And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day YHVH made a covenant with Abram …

What is the meaning of this? This is nothing other than YHVH giving Abram a prophetic vision of Yeshua the Redeemer of Israel dying on the cross paying for the sins of Abram’s descendants who would break that very covenant that YHVH had made with Abram on that day. Both Jewish and Christian biblical commentators recognize aspects of this truth, but they don’t have fuller prophetic picture. This we will explain below.

Let’s first establish the fact that YHVH passed through the pieces of a sacrificed animal. Rashi, the medieval Jewish Torah scholar, recognizes that the Divine Presence was the one who passed through the pieces of animal while Abram slept (Rashi’s commentary on Gen 15:10). Furthermore, The ArtScroll Tanach Series Bereishis/Genesis Commentary, vol 1a, states, “The smoke [which rose up into the thick darkness (Radak)] was the ‘Cloud and thick darkness’ which appeared at the revelation of the Torah and the torch in its midst was ‘the fire’ which appeared at Sinai [see Exod 19:18; Deut 5:4]”…. [Elohim] caused His Presence, symbolized by the fire, to pass through and conclude the Covenant.… [T]he culmination of this vision was that the fire consumed the pieces, causing their smoke to ascend to heaven…” (pp. 534–535). Christian commentators Keil and Delitzsch in their commentary on this passage state, “In this symbol [i.e. the smoking pot and the fiery torch], Jehovah manifested Himself to Abram, just as He afterwards did to the people of Israel in the pillar of cloud and fire” (Hendrickson, p. 138). So both notable Jewish and Christian scholars relate the smoke and the fire Abram saw pass between the pieces of meat to YHVH’s Presence in the cloud and pillar of fire that led Israel in the wilderness. We read in Exodus 13:21,

And YHVH went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.

Then in Exodus 14:19 it is written:

And the angel of Elohim, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them.

Who is this “Angel” of Elohim (in other places: he is called “the Angel” of YHVH)? Angel is an unfortunate translation. The Hebrew word for angel is malak (lTKN) and simply means “a heavenly or a human messenger.” Prophetically this word can refer to human messengers such as the one coming in the spirit of Elijah prior to Messiah’s coming, as well as to the Messiah himself (“Messenger/Malak of the covenant” in Malachi 3:1). In Genesis 32:22–30, Jacob wrestles with a man the Scriptures identify as the Malak of YHVH (Hosea 12:3-5) and whom Jacob called Elohim (Hos 12:3–4). This same Individual redeemed Jacob (Gen 48:18) and is identified with the Malak of Elohim … the Elohim of Bethel (Gen 31:11 and 13), and appeared to Moses at the burning bush (Exod 3:2). Now we see this same Entity leading Israel in the wilderness. Again who is he? Stephen in Acts 7:37–39 identifies the Messiah (i.e. “that Prophet” Moses mentioned in Deut 18:15) with the “Angel” or Heavenly Messenger which spoke to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai and who gave them the “living oracles,” who the Israelites later rejected for pagan gods. Paul elsewhere said of this same Personage that the Israelites did “all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Messiah” (1 Cor 10:4).

Of that pillar of fire that led them, we see that it gave them light, and we know that light is a biblical metaphor for YHVH’s Torah (e.g., Prov 6:23). Additionally, we know that Yeshua the Messiah is the Light of the World (John 1:6–9; 8:12; 9:5)—the Word of Elohim in living form (personified; John 1:1–14).

So, to connect the dots, we see that Abram saw a vision of the pre-incarnate Yeshua passing through the pieces of meat as he ratified the Abrahamic Covenant. He accepted the offering as it went up to heaven in a cloud of smoke even as fire came forth from the same cloud in the holy of holies in the Tabernacle Moses and the same pre-incarnate Yeshua accepted the first sacrifice on the altar of sacrifice (Lev 9:24, see also Judg 6:20–21; 13:19–20).

But there is more.

The Jewish sages recognize that the smoking furnace Abram saw in his vision is a picture of Gehinnom (the valley in Jerusalem where in ancient times the city’s garbage was burned making it a poetic and prophetic representation of Elohim’s fiery judgment upon the wicked) or four periods of future judgment that would come upon Israel as a result of her apostasy (see Rashi’s commentary on Gen 15:17). This is the rabbinic interpretation of the smoking furnace. Let us now present to you a possible Messianic interpretation of this same smoking furnace.

In ancient biblical times when two parties would negotiate an agreement, both parties would pass through the animal halves symbolizing the life and death consequences of violating the terms of the agreement. A death curse was literally placed upon the one who would break the covenant.

In the case of the Abrahamic Covenant, we see that Yeshua in his pre-incarnate state was the one who passed through the pieces of meat while Abram slept. This signifies that Yeshua took upon himself the curse of death if either he or Abraham (or his descendants) in any way violated the terms and conditions of the Abrahamic Covenant. We know that Abrahams descendants did not remain faithful to their covenants with YHVH. YHVH used the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and the Romans to punish them, but this punishment did not redeem them from having violated their covenantal agreement. Yeshua, YHVH’s heavenly Messenger, took that full responsibility upon himself when he passed through the pieces of meat. He took upon himself the full and unconditional consequences of the sinful actions of Abraham’s descendants, which are the saints (Gal 3:29). The fiery wrath of Elohim’s judgment against sin (i.e. violation of Torah, see 1 John 3:4) came upon him and he was crucified by the Romans at Calvary. It is through the shed blood of Yeshua who paid for our sins that we enter into renewed covenant with the same Yeshua (as did Abraham) and become sons of Abraham, as well as adopted sons of Elohim resulting in eternal life. This is the message of Paul the apostle in Epistle to the Romans. We believe that this is how Genesis 15 foretells the future apostasy of Israel, the rise of Messiah Yeshua, the Savior and Redeemer of Israel, and his death at the cross to pay the legal price for their sins of rebellion and disobedience to YHVH and his commandments.


 

The Abrahamic Covenant—Foundation of the New Covenant

Why should a New Covenant saint care about the Abrahamic Covenant much less study it? What is the relevance of it? According to Paul, the Abrahamic Covenant forms the foundation for the New Covenant. (See his discussion of it in Romans 4.) Moreover, the apostle of Yeshua elsewhere declares that when one comes to Yeshua in faith, he becomes a part of the covenants (plural) of Israel and a member of the nation of Israel (Eph 2:12), becomes a literal child of Abraham (Gal 3:29), and becomes, by definition, the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16; Rom 4:16). He is no longer a Gentile without Elohim and without hope (Eph 2:11). He is now grafted into the olive tree of Israel whose roots go back to Abraham (Rom 11:17–24).

Again, notice Eph 2:12 where Paul mentions covenants (plural). The New Covenant is only one covenant. Which other covenants does Paul have in view here that are relevant to the saint? It should hopefully now be obvious that he is referring to the Abrahamic Covenant. This is why we need to study it.

The Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants Are Subsections of the Torah Covenant (or the Old Covenant)

The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, is the chronicle of YHVH giving man instructions to follow, and of his entering into covenantal relationships with men and men either keeping those agreements or breaking them.

The word Torah means “instructions, teaching or precepts; specifically in biblical context: the teachings or instructions of YHVH to lead men into a righteous relationship with him through covenantal agreement.” The Torah is a giant b’rit or covenant. The Torah in a number of places even refers to itself by the Hebrew word b’rit or covenant. We see this in the following passages:

Exodus 34:27, And YHVH said unto Moses, Write you these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

Deuteronomy 29:1, These are the words of the covenant, which YHVH commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

The Torah is not unlike an instruction manual that one might receive from the manufacturer of an automobile, computer or some such device to help the buyer to operate his new purchase in a manner that allows him to receive years of trouble-free service. The Torah is YHVH’s instruction manual to help man to live in a way that brings life and blessing; it helps man to enter into a loving relationship with his Creator and to have a trouble-free relationship with his fellow man.

Within the first five books of the Torah-covenant are several smaller covenantal subdivisions such as the Abrahamic and the Sinaitic or Mosaic Covenants. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) describes this as follows, “Deuteronomy 29:13–14 shows the Sinaitic Covenant was an extension of the Abrahamic ­Covenant…. The Sinai renewal merely stressed man’s responsibility where the Abrahamic Covenant emphasized Elohim’s promise… The Priestly Covenant of Num 25:12–13, the Davidic Covenant of 2 Sam 7 and the New Covenant of Jer 31:31 are all administrative aspects of the same covenant, Elohim’s Covenant of grace. This covenant reaches its climax at the Incarnation where [Messiah] representing his people fulfilled all the stipulations of the covenant and bore the curse they deserved for breaking it” (p. 129).

The Torah is a covenant with various “administrative aspects” or subdivisions. Each succeeding covenant builds upon the previous covenant without cancelling out the requirements or provisions of the previous covenant. Such is consistent with the character Continue reading