Tag Archives: covenants

God’s Covenant’s – The Christian Age

5652961476_cdee5727ee_oPreviously, three periods of time were addressed during which God dealt differently with people. Those periods are the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian. In this article, we examine the Mosaic age in greater detail.

All people are subject to Jesus Christ. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). Men have always been subject to God, but today are specifically under the law of Christ. This present dispensation or covenant is the Christian Age.

Romans 8:2 contrasts this new age against the old Jewish system: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” The law of Moses was useful but could never save (Hebrews 10:4). As good as Abraham was, he would perish eternally had Jesus not paid the ultimate debt for him.

Christian Age in Prophecy

Everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ. Man sinned, and irrevocable condemnation followed in Eden (Genesis 3:1-7, 22-24). Yet, God still loved his creation and was prepared to save them. In the midst of the curses of Genesis 3, God uttered the first messianic prophecy forecasting the coming of a Savior (Genesis 3:15).

Even before man sinned, God had made provision for salvation. Peter says of Jesus that “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20). During the period of the Mosaic Law, the great prophet Isaiah look ahead to future beyond the Law (Isaiah 2:2) when all nations, not just Israel, would belong in God’s house. In Nazareth, Jesus Himself asserted that he was the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. He assembled prophecies from Moses, Isaiah, and the Psalmist and then declared, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

Christian Age Begins

The age of Christ began with Jesus’ death at Calvary. This is a crucial turning point in salvation history. Two erroneous teachings hinge on the misunderstanding of the central role of Christ’s death as the transition between the Mosaic age and the Christian age.

First, some attempt to use Mosaic age events to deny or discredit Christian age commands. For example, some argue that the thief on the cross (Matthew 27:38 ff; Mark 15:27 ff; Luke 23:32 ff; John 19:18 ff) is somehow proof that baptism is unnecessary for salvation. Such reasoning fails to note that both the penitent thief and Jesus lived under the Law of Moses when baptism was not required. The Hebrew’s writer clears any confusion: “For a will takes effect only at death since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive” (Hebrews 9:17). Christ’s law was simply not in effect.

Second, some attempt to use Mosaic age events to justify the inclusion of items in Christian age worship. For example, mechanical instruments of music were ordered in Mosaic age worship. So was incense, animal sacrifice, a clergy-laity system, tithing, etc. None of these things survived the death of Jesus and died at Christ’s cross (Colossians 2:14). The death of Christ established a new age. We no longer serve the shadow of things to come but the actual law of liberty inaugurated by Jesus Himself (Hebrews 1:1; James 1:25)!

Clearly, the Bible student must differentiate the various ages and methods by which God deals with his people. It would be a grievous error to confuse them. We must correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). God’s word is a sharp weapon (Hebrews 4:12) and must be handled with care.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.


God’s Covenant’s – Law of Moses

Moses Comes DownPreviously, three periods of time were addressed during which God dealt differently with people. Those periods are the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian. In this article, we examine the Mosaic age in greater detail.

God has always governed men through covenants. These agreements set forth the terms of God’s blessings and the consequences for disobedience. One of the three major covenants is that given to Israel at Mount Sinai. The Law of Moses provided for national, civic, and spiritual conduct. It was a beautiful law that glorified God and taught his people of holiness. Nevertheless,  the Law of Moses was never intended to be permanent. It is no longer in effect. We do not live according to its precepts.

Beginnings of the Law of Moses

Israel left Egyptian enslavement in Exodus 12:37. Their journey took them to the Mountain of God, Mount Sinai. There, God gave Moses a series of laws which would govern the Israelites and form the basis of their relationship with him.

This law was intended only for Israel. Observe the words of Scripture at Exodus 20:2: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Immediately, the Lord delivers the Law of Moses. This short preamble confirms that one people, namely, those God brought out of Egypt, received the law. No Gentile (non-Jewish) people were ever amenable to the Law of Moses. They were subject to the same God but not via the same law. They would remain under the so-called Patriarchal covenant until Acts 10 and Cornelius.

Great miracles attended the giving of the Law of Moses. About three months prior, the Israelites had witnessed stupendous miracles of God through the hand of Moses. A series of plagues against Egypt shattered their bonds. The powerful parting of the Red Sea and destruction of the Egyptian army confirmed that God was with Israel. Now, at Sinai, Moses again stood before the people as a messenger of God to deliver this new law.

Contents of the Law of Moses

The law contained regulations for national life, community life, and spiritual life. At the center of the nation there literally stood the Tabernacle. It was here that God would show his presence and dwell among his people. It was at the Tabernacle that Israel offered sacrifices precisely according to  God’s commands. Even the unique clothing of the priests was dictated by Jehovah (Exodus 28).

Modern worship incorrectly includes items of Mosaic worship. A different time and place were appropriate for such items as mechanical instruments of music, incense burning and the elevation of priests (clergy). Many today seem to pick and choose how to worship.

God taught through the Law. Paul writes that the law was a guardian for mankind (Galatians 3:15-29). We learn much about God through his dealings with Israel. We learn of his demand for holiness and is unwavering demand for faithfulness to his laws and commands. We learn that man was never left to his own worship inventions but is carefully guided in every respect.

Temporary nature of the Law of Moses

The law given at Sinai was not permanent and is not normative for Christian life and worship. Isaiah spoke of “latter days”  when God would change his law (Isaiah 2:1-5) such that “all nations” would flow into his kingdom (Isaiah 2:2). Paul writes that the law was not sufficient to show the true righteousness of God (Romans 3:21-31). The Hebrew’s writer would argue that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin (Hebrews 9:15-23). The reference to bulls and goats points to key elements of Mosaic sacrifice. Paul would write that these ordinances are taken away and nailed to the cross (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:8-15, esp. 14).

Today, the Christians are freed from the Law of Moses. Let us rejoice in Christ and never try to go back to the elements of an old, insufficient law.


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.

God’s Covenant’s – Patriarchal

Previously, three periods of time were addressed during which God dealt differently with people. Those periods are the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian. In this article, we examine the Patriarchal age in greater detail.


After Creation, God spoke directly to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). There are no middlemen, no priests, and no written word from Jehovah. God told Adam and Eve what he wanted them to know. He warned them and guided them directly. When sin occurred, as with Cain, he directly rebuked the sinner and punished them as he saw appropriate.

It was during this period that God spoke directly to Abram. He spoke to Abram and told him to leave the house and the land of his father. He enumerated three great blessings later fulfilled fully. God would speak directly to Abram’s progeny and restate the same promises to them. The point is that God is speaking directly to people.


Years after he spoke to Abraham, God would speak directly to Moses and establish a second period or dispensation. This Mosaic age includes only the children of Israel, the Israelites. The Patriarchal period would continue for everyone else until chapter 10 of Acts when Cornelius, a Gentile, was baptized and added to the Kingdom of Christ. The kingdom of Christ, or the church, is part of the third age or Christian dispensation.

It is troubling to some that the Patriarchal and Mosaic ages could coexist. We offer some Biblical examples to defend our position.

After the Mosaic period began, God still had dealings with non-Jews. The entire conquest of the land of Canaan occurred because God was judging those nations who had turned from Him to idols (Deuteronomy 9:5; 18:9-12; Leviticus 18:24, 25). They were responsible for their sins. They were punished with divine judgment.

There were non-Jewish priests even after the establishment of the Mosaic law. Jethro (Reuel), was one such priest. He is a priest of Midian (Exodus 18:1) and as the father-in-law of Moses. After the giving of the law at Sinai, Jethro advises Moses in the adjudication of disputes (Exodus 18:13-27). There is no suggestion in Scripture that his priesthood ended.

In the famed story of Jonah, the prophet is sent to Ninevah, an Assyrian city, to cry out against the wickedness of the people. Assyria, and Nineveh particularly, are non-Jewish places. Nevertheless, God expected their conduct to be holy. They were subject to God despite their Gentile ancestry. We know that God did not destroy Ninevah, at least, not at that time, because they repented (Jonah 3:10). They were amenable before God.

Finally, we point to Cornelius of Acts 10:1ff. He is undeniably Gentile (Acts 10:1; 14-16; 11:18). He is also undeniably godly as inspiration describes him as “devout” (Acts 10:2). He was not a Jew. He was not under the law of Moses, yet he is a righteous man. He is amenable to God’s laws as given under the Patriarchal age.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.

The Teacher

The Gospels present the life of Jesus. Acts gives us a history of the earliest church. The letters offer us insight into the early church problems and challenges. Revelation gives hope for the future. But what about the Old Testament? If you look carefully at the pages of your favorite Bible you may find the pages of the New Testament worn, ragged and filled with notes. But the pages of the Old Testament are almost pristine from lack of use. Few would argue that we need to improve our knowledge of the Old Testament.

The writings of the Old Testament bring us from Creation to within about 400 years of the birth of Christ. And then, it stops. In fact, it ends with a depressing rebuke from God when the people are told  their sacrifices have been rejected (Malachi 1:10). Yet the prophet still holds out hope and points to the coming redeemer (Malachi 3:1-5).

Four centuries later the prophetic voice would resume from a strange man who wore rough clothing and ate locusts for his meals. John the Baptist would speak the Lord’s words (Matthew 3:1-6).

The Old Testament consists primarily, but certainly not exclusively, of the Mosaic Law given at Sinai. The Law was given through Moses. The prophets tried to call the people back to that Law. But that covenant was brought to an end by Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:10-11; Galatians 3:21-29; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:13; Hebrews 12:25-29). So if it was “nailed to the cross” how should we view it? Is there any value in t he Old Testament today? Continue reading The Teacher

Covenants: Differences

There are striking differences in the covenants God has used with man throughout history. God has always chosen just the right way to deal with man depending upon man’s needs and God’s own purposes. The writer of Hebrews open this great book with the words:

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our Father’s by the prophets. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…”(Hebrews 1:1)

Biblical covenants easily divide into three. The Patriarchal age, the Mosaic age and the present Christian age. The Christian age is very different from the other two. Here are some differences.

Continue reading Covenants: Differences

Understanding Bible Covenants

You must understand covenants in the Bible if you want to understand the Bible. Although God himself never changes (Hebrews 6:17; Hebrews 13:8) he does change the way he deals with man. God does not deal with us today the same as he dealt with Adam and Eve. He did not deal with the Israelites the same as he dealt with Adam and Eve. Understanding these differences will help better appreciate the glory of Jesus Christ and his perfect law while becoming better students of the Bible.

Bible Covenants

For our purposes we are only interested in covenants between God and man. These are a special kind of covenant called a “suzerain” treaty or covenant. Arnold and Beyer  describe a suzerain treaty as a political covenant between unequal partners.” ((Bill T. Arnold & Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament, Baker Books, 1999, pg 149)) In the case of Jehovah there is no political aspect but nonetheless it is an agreement between unequals. As such, there was, and is, no negotiating to be done. God simply pronounced the covenant along with blessings and punishments. The people were free to comply to rebel.

Although their are many covenants between God and individuals in the Bible ((1 Kings 3:10-14; 1 Kings 6:12-13)) there are only three major covenants under which God has bound himself. Each is similar but there are striking differences too.

For example, in all covenants God is always supreme and is always sovereign. In all covenants man is to obey God and serve him. In all covenants man enjoys blessings for obedience and consequences of punishment for disobedience. Man is never left to himself or allowed to craft his own response to God (Judges 21:25; Acts 4:19). Man has never been left to himself. God has always directed him.

Three covenants, sometimes spoken of as dispensations, can be divided as follows: 1.) The Patriarchal; 2.) The Mosaic; 3.) The Christian. We will look at each in turn

The Patriarchal Period

The Patriarchal period begins at the beginning of time and continues to the Cross of Christ. It and the Mosaic share some of the same time period but are quite distinct. This period is marked by a more direct approach by God to his people. For example, we have God speaking directly to Adam and Eve in Eden (Genesis 3:9-19), to Cain (Genesis 4:6-15), to Noah (Genesis 7:1 ff), and to Job (Job 38:1 ff). Although the father of the Jews, Abraham lived and died under the Patriarchal system. We also see God calling entire nations back to Him through prophets even though those nations are not Jewish (Jonah 1:2; Nahum 1:1; Daniel 4:28 ff).

Until Sinai (Exodus 20) all people were under this kind of guidance or direction from God. At Sinai God would finish separating out the Hebrews into his chosen people and would give them their own laws or covenant. Except for the Jews, the Patriarchal age continued until Christ died at Calvary.

This period sees a very direct interaction between individuals and God. God dealt with the heads of the families who were instructed in issues of righteousness.

The Mosaic Period

Beginning in Genesis 12, God began to speak of a special group of people. This nation would be even more special to him than the others. He would actually create this nation from the offspring of Abraham (Genesis 12:2). These people were chosen by God even before they were born and even before they were more than a small family. They were chosen out of the sovereign will of God. It would take almost 500 years for these people to actually grow into a nation and occupy their own land but it was coming.

God rescued his people from Egypt and brought them into the wilderness where he would give them a law. Every nation must have law and God’s people were no different. So at Sinai he gave them their own unique law. We usually call it the Law of Moses but Moses was only the man to whom the law was given. It was created by God.

Included in the Law of Moses are the 10 Commandments. These commands form the basis for what will follow in the larger codex of law. Exodus 20:2 makes it clear that when this law was given it was given to a certain group of people. Specifically it was given to those God brought “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Although the Children of Israel ((Children of Israel, Hebrews and Jews are all terms for the same group.)) were under the law of Moses no other nation was subject to it. That is not to say other nations were under no law at all, just that they were not under the law given at Sinai.

This period runs from Sinai concurrently with the Patriarchal period until the cross of Christ. It applied only to the Jews. God deals with his chosen people first through Moses, then the Law of Moses and then through the Levitical priests and the national judges and kings.

The Christian Covenant

Everything changed at Calvary. When Jesus died, was buried, raised and established his church, all men were now under his law. There was no longer a need for the sacrifices of the Temple. Indeed the Most Holy Place was thrust into view when the veil was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38). Suddenly the Levitical (Mosaic)  priesthood was obsolete for a new Priest, Jesus Christ, had been installed in Heaven itself (Hebrews 4:14 ff). Now He alone was the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). The old law of ordinances was “nailed to the cross” and no more applied unto any person (Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 3:1-11).

The priesthood of Moses could never take away sin fully, only could it set aside the sins until the coming of Jesus (Hebrews 8). Now all may be saved through Jesus. His blood covers all from the beginning of time into the future.

But Jews are not the only ones subject to Christ. Speaking to a predominantly Gentile audience in Acts 17:30 Paul said that God commanded “all men everywhere to repent.”

Today, we no longer live under Moses’ law. We do not do the things done under that period or dispensation. We honor the Old Testament and learn from its true stories and examples but we worship as the Christians did in the 1st Century (Galatians 3:24;-25 ). This is the reason we do not reach into the Old Testament for authority in worship. Animal sacrifices were an integral part of the Old Testament but have no place in the New. Mechanical Instruments of music were important in the Temple but not in the church. Worship is no longer on the Sabbath but on the “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10) which is the first day of the week, Sunday.

Properly understanding the various covenants will aide us in serving God as he intends in the present age.