Sunday, August 11, 2019

Reader question about the New (renewed) Covenant: do both parties have to agree to make it binding?

READER QUESTION:

I have a question about the New (renewed) Covenant. I hope I can ask it the correct way---when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets of stone and he told the people what all God had spoken and what they were to do, the people said that they would do it. I think that is what made the Covenant binding, that they agreed to do what God said (similar to a marriage covenant---both parties agree to the terms and say, "I do" to each other.)

So if I have that part correct, then the question is, is that agreement/Covenant that was made at that mountain in Moses' presence the very same one in force today, or did/do people have to agree a second time to that very set of terms at the mountain, or do they agree to another set of terms upon Yeshua's death?

In other words, don't we have to agree to a set of terms in order for there to be a Covenant with God, and if so, what is it if it is different than the one with Moses?

Thanks again!

OUR RESPONSE:

An outstanding question and topic - but not an easy one!

There are actually two kinds of covenants in scripture: bilateral and unilateral.  That is, the bilateral covenant is when both parties must agree to the conditions or terms of the covenant. On the other hand, a unilateral covenant is one expressed by one party alone and that sole party is responsible to carry out the terms. 

So no, we don't "have to agree to a set of terms in order for there to be a Covenant with God".  Indeed, 5 of the 6 covenants in scripture involving God are considered "unilateral": the Noahic, Abrahamic, Priestly (or Levitical), Davidic, and the New.  For example, in the Noahic covenant (oversimplifying): God promises that He will never again flood the world.  No one else had to "agree" to that. 

Thus, the consensus of the theological community (not that we agree with the theological consensus) is that the "New" covenant is unconditional.  Conventional wisdom thus says that God provided His Messiah, and all are covered - nothing required on our part. 

Notice that the Mosaic covenant, the one you brought up, is not in the list of the "unilateral" covenants! Why? Well, there was a "binding".  You have observed that the binding might be the fact that the people agreed. They all said they would do it.  But, in this case, scripture provides the answer. 

It is found in Exodus 24:5-8. After the people said they would do and obey everything, the covenant was sealed with the blood of the oxen (vs. 5) being sprinkled (figuratively) on "all" the people with Moshe saying: "This is the blood of the covenant which Adonai has made with you in accordance with all these words."  Thus the covenant was sealed, and was bilateral.

That covenant still holds. Look at what the Mosaic covenant says.  It says, in a nutshell, that we (the people) agreed to the WORDS of the covenant (Exodus 24:7)! These are the Words of God which tell us how to live holy lives. Our part of obeying the words of the covenant has never been abrogated!

You go on to ask: "do they [the people] agree to another set of terms upon Yeshua's death?"  No, the people are not agreeing to another set of terms, the terms never changed.  But this is where we differ from the "consensus" who think the New Covenant is "unconditional". The New Covenant provides for everlasting life with YHWH, to all people, by a required blood redemption (Yeshua's blood, the promised Messiah, or “savior”)... PROVIDED, the individuals accept YHWH as their God and Yeshua as their redeemer. 

So, the New Covenant is NOT, as the consensus says, a "unilateral" covenant! Though no "binding" was required which would cover all people, the "binding" was left up to each individual - accepted or not. 

We find this in the words of Yeshua himself in John 17:2-3: "Just as you gave him authority over all mankind, so that he might give eternal life to all those whom you have given him.  And eternal life is this: to know you, the one true God, and him whom you sent, Yeshua the Messiah." 

Thus, our part of the covenant is to KNOW God and KNOW Yeshua and in turn, we are offered eternal life. The New Covenant is therefore bilateral.  There is a part we are obligated to fulfill and in turn, we are provided everlasting life.

How can one "know" God and Yeshua? By OBEYING the WORD (Torah!) (1 John 2:3, Hebrews 10:26, 1 John 3:4).

Sure, some of the Torah no longer applies to us who live today as most of those original "613" commands (which were numbered by MAN, not ADONAI) were directed at the cohens (priests); some were only for men; some only for women, and some were only for a certain timeframe.

But some were meant to last FOREVER, and for ALL to obey - and those are the ones that believers must pay attention to. Therefore, it is a pitiful excuse to argue that "Torah" (what is erroneously referred to as "The Law") was somehow "done away with" just because the Messiah died for us.

Again, thanks for the great question and may YHWH richly bless you and yours!

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