Who really is under the old covenant?

Please note that the following is based on the article "Why the Old Covenant Failed" by Joe Crews. Click here to see the orginal article.

Are the Sun-day Keepers under the New Covenant?

What is a covenant?

A covenant is an agreement between two parties based upon mutual promises.

With whom did God establish covenants?

Sometimes God established pacts with individuals like Moses, Abraham, and David, and with the nation of Israel.

What is the most important covenant of all that was set up long before this world came into existence?

“Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Revelation 13:8

God the Son agreed to become the atoning sacrifice to redeem man, should Adam and Eve choose to sin. The terms of that eternal covenant have never been changed or superseded. Although many other covenants have been established through the years, the simple provision of salvation through faith has remained in effect through all ages, for all mankind.

Is the old covenant the 10 commandments? How does the writer of Hebrews describe the old covenant?

"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 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: ... For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." Hebrews 8:6-13.

Notice 3 key points about the Old covenant:

Point 1) Old Covenant had some poor promises in it. The New Covenant, we are told, "was established upon better promises." Verse 6.

Can anyone point out any poor promises in the Ten Commandments?

Never! On the contrary:

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3.

Note: This declaration alone is sufficient to show that the writer of Hebrews was not charging the moral law with any weak promises. The Old Covenant, whatever else it might be, could never be the Ten Commandments.

Point 2) The Old Covenant was faulty. "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second." Hebrews 8:7.

Can anyone point out any or a flaw in the handwriting of God?

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Psalm 19:7.

"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Romans 7:12.

Does that sound like something weak and imperfect? No law could be perfect and faulty at the same time. It becomes more and more apparent that the Old Covenant could not have been the Ten Commandments.

Point 3) The Old Covenant was to be abolished!

"In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." Hebrews 8:13.

Did the great moral law of Ten Commandments vanish away? Anyone who has read the New Testament must answer, Absolutely not. Paul affirms the exact opposite about the law. He asked,

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31

Does the Bible contradict itself? Can something vanish away and be established at the same time?

Just to be certain that Paul was not saying that the Old Covenant was the law, let us insert the words "Old Covenant" instead of the word "law" into Romans 3:31.

"Do we than make void the Old Covenant through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Old Covenant."

That doesn't sound right at all, does it? We know that the Old Covenant had vanished away and could never be spoken of in this way. Very clearly, then, we can see that the covenant which came to an end could not have been the Ten Commandments. So we know what the Old Covenant is not!!!! But how then the Old Covenant was established?

How was the Old covenant established?

- God called Moses up into the mountain before He gave the law and proposed a covenant between Him and His people:

"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; ... 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 ... an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." Exodus 19:3-6.

- How did they respond to the divine offer?

"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." Exodus 19:7, 8.

How was the Old Covenant ratified?

Before it could go into formal operation there had to be a sealing or ratifying of the pact.

Exodus 24:4-8: "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel which ... sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words."

This ritualistic service involved the sprinkling of the blood of an ox on the people. Again we are reminded that this covenant was not the law itself but was made "concerning all these words." The Ten Commandments were the basis for the agreement. The people promised to keep that law, and God promised to bless them in return. There was no suggestion that they could not fully conform to every requirement of God. Neither was there any application for divine assistance. "We can do it," they insisted. Here is a perfect example of leaning on the flesh and trusting human strength.

Were they able to keep that promise? Who made poor promises? The law or them? Do we begin to see where the poor promises lay in the Old Covenant?

For finding fault with [the law???] 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; because they continued not in my covenant," Hebrews 8:6-13.

How were the New Covenant promises better?

"I [God] will put my laws into their mind ... I will be to them a God ... I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Hebrews 8:10-12.

Because God made them, and they guaranteed successful obedience through His strength alone.

How was the New Covenant ratified?

In the same manner that the Old was confirmed - by the shedding of blood. But instead of an ox having to shed its blood, the sinless Son of God would provide the blood of sprinkling:

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ." Hebrews 13:20, 21.

What a contrast to the weak promises of the flesh made by Israel at Sinai. Instead of the people's "we will do," God's New Covenant promise is to "make you perfect in every good work ... working in you." It is no longer human effort. It is not so much you working, but Him "working in you." And how is this power made available? "Through the blood of the everlasting covenant." Because of what Jesus did on the cross.

Since the New Covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, could it have gone into effect until after Jesus died on the cross? No!

"For where a testament (covenant) is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament (covenant) is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." Hebrews 9:16, 17.

After a man's death, can his will or covenant be changed?

"Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto." Galatians 3:15.

Not one new addition can be made after the death of the testator.

Why did Jesus institute the Lord's Supper before His body had been broken?

"This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:28.

Isn't it curious that Christ would say those words before His blood had been shed? He was commanding a memorial for an event which had not even happened yet! Why? Because it had to be introduced before His death in order to come under the New Covenant. Nothing could be added after His death.


How could Sunday keeping be a part of the New Covenant? Nothing could be added after the death of Christ. He died on Friday and was resurrected on Sunday. If Sunday was added after Jesus died, it could never be a part of the New Covenant, could it?" IMPOSSIBLE!!!!

The very strongest reason for rejecting Sunday worship is that it was not included in the New Covenant requirements which were ratified by the death of Jesus. If Christ had desired His resurrection to be memorialized by Sundaykeeping, He could have introduced it on that same Thursday night of the Last Supper.

Ishmael and Isaac
Represent Two Covenants

Who represented the two covenants according to Galatians 4?

"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." Galatians 4: 22-25. "Now we, brethren as Isaac was, are the children of promise. ... So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." Galatians 4: 28-31.

How do those sons of those two women represent the two covenants?

The Old Covenant principle is "we will do." Abraham tried to work it out in the flesh, according to human effort and planning. The old arrangement failed just as surely as the Old Covenant promises failed, because there was no dependence on divine power.

The New Covenant principle is “God will do in us or Christ in you”. When Isaac was born, it was a miracle. God actually created a new life out of a biologically barren womb. The physical impossibilities yielded to the supernatural, creative power of God. Isaac perfectly represents the principle of the New Covenant relationship based upon regeneration, a new-birth experience, which begets the life of the Son of God in all who believe. When God uses His power to create new life in the soul, the impossible happens again - a human being becomes spiritual and obedient.

Isaac was not "born after the flesh," but "after the Spirit." Galatians 4:29. Because man is carnal and "weak in the flesh," he has no power to attain to the righteousness of the law. He, too, must be born after the Spirit. Every attempt to obey on the Old-Covenant basis of human effort will produce only children of bondage. The law must be written into the heart by the Holy Spirit and fulfilled by "Christ in you."

Are the commandment keepers the ones who are under New Covenant?

Those who are under the Old Covenant are the commandment breakers, and those under the New Covenant are the commandment keepers. It was only when Abraham disobeyed God by taking Hagar that he fulfilled the principle of the Old Covenant. When he trusted God to give him a son through Sarah, he was being obedient to God's will, and properly represents the New-Covenant Christians. Yet how often do modern interpreters get these facts confused! They accuse law-keepers of being under the Old Covenant. The truth is exactly the opposite.