Monday, February 15, 2010
Grace In The Old Testament (Transcript)
I love to point out the Grace of God in the Old Testament. And I want to do that today. But first a couple of comments about the New Covenant.
I write and speak a lot about the New Covenant. The New Covenant is that great covenant that current believers are under, in which our sins have been paid for and washed away by the blood of Christ through His death on the Cross, and we have been born again and declared righteous as a gift of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s all by grace, and not of our works. So we can’t boast in it. God did it all through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Distinguishing Between Covenants
One of the most important things that a Christian should learn is the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
Now there are several covenants throughout the Scripture.
Some examples are the Noahic Covenant, where God promised Noah that He would never destroy the earth again with water;
the Abrahamic Covenant, which first introduced the concept of being given the righteousness of God through believing Him (The Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was credited to Abraham for righteousness. We read this in Rom. 4:3 and James 2:23, but those New Testament writers are actually referring to Genesis 15:6);
and there’s the Davidic Covenant, in which it is promised that the Messiah, a descendent of David humanly speaking, would one day sit on David’s throne, so to speak.
The Old Covenant
But the dominant covenant in the Old Testament was what is called the Mosaic Covenant, or just the Old Covenant. This was the covenant that God gave to the nation Israel under Moses, and lasted all the way through until the very time that Jesus walked the earth as a man.
This Old Covenant is sometimes just referred to as The Law, or the Law of Moses, since it was a covenant that promised blessings to the Israelite who obeyed it, and curses to the Israelite who disobeyed it.
The "Constitution", we might say, of the Old Testament, was the Ten Commandments, since they sort of summed up the Old Testament Law, but there actually were over 600 laws in the total Old Covenant revelation from God.
And because of that, the Old Covenant was a serious burden to the Israelite who took it seriously.
Now some have assumed that because the Old Covenant was conditional – in other words, do this and God will bless you, do that and God will curse you – that it was a covenant for salvation. But that is not correct.
Even under the burdensome Old Covenant, salvation could never be earned by works, or obedience. The blessings of obedience were temporal, or temporary, not eternal. They could be physical blessings, like riches, cattle, land, etc., or they could be spiritual, like peace, joy, and so forth. But they were not eternal blessings of salvation, heaven, and so on.
Out With The Old...
Now we read in Hebrews Chapter 8 that when the New Covenant came to Israel, and to us Gentiles, who were “grafted in”, when the New Covenant came, the Old Covenant was made obsolete. This in itself is a great blessing, because the burden of those 600-plus laws was lifted.
But why was the Old Covenant made obsolete? Hebrews 8 gives us the answer. Because the Old Covenant showed Israel, and showed mankind, that we are incapable of following God’s laws to the perfection that He requires.
In C.S. Lewis’ classic book Mere Christianity he points out that we can’t even live up to our own standards, let alone God’s.
Have you ever made a resolution? Have you ever kept a resolution? We set our standards of what we think we should do or not do, and it’s usually not long before we violate our own standard, isn’t it? How much more difficult to perfectly follow God’s standards.
And if God’s standards didn’t seem high enough in the Old Covenant scriptures, Jesus made it clear that the standards were really even higher than they first appeared!
When He pointed out that murder in the Ten Commandments really included even hatred in it’s spiritual sense, or that adultery even included lust in the heart, we all were alerted that God’s standards simply couldn’t be kept to the perfection that God required for life.
...In With The New
And so God instituted the New Covenant in the blood of Christ, which nailed the requirements of the Law to the Cross, and Christ became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Old Covenant, which man could not keep, was replaced by the New Covenant, which Christ Himself kept FOR us.
And all spiritual blessings became ours in Christ, Ephesians 1:3. And it was all by grace, the free gift of God.
Grace In The Old Testament?
But having said that, we should never get the impression that there was no Grace in the Old Testament.
The Grace that shines like an exploding supernova in the New Testament, the Grace that we see in the face of the Messiah risen from the dead, the Grace that we can taste today in the freedom of the New Covenant, is Grace from the same Gracious Lord Who ruled over the ancient nation Israel.
And shining rays of that Grace are seen over and over even in the Old Testament.
God Has Always Been Gracious
Because God has always been gracious. It’s part of His character.
It’s not all of His character, of course. He is also Just, and has executed that justice in ways that cause men to tremble. And He is Sovereign, so He exercises His justice and His Grace when He sees fit. But He has always had a remnant, those who believe in Him. Those who, like Abraham, believed God, and it was credited to them for righteousness.
The New Covenant Is Retroactive
But the second reason why shining rays of God’s Grace are seen over and over even in the Old Testament, is because the New Covenant is retroactive.
In other words, all of God’s people who were ever saved from His wrath, and who will join us in Heaven one day, from Adam and Eve, all the way to the Cross and beyond, were all saved ultimately by the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood.
Have you ever heard a furniture company advertise something like, “Come to our furniture sale, pick out your furniture, and no payments need to be made until January of next year!”?
And people flock to the furniture store, because they don’t have to pay now.
Well, that’s sorta how the New Covenant works for the Old Testament saints, except that the payment which eventually came, was paid by the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid on the cross for the sins of Adam, and Noah, and Moses, and David, and Jeremiah, and all who believed God throughout the Old Testament, long before the Cross.
What alternative is there? That they were saved by works? Of course not.
An Old Testament Sample of Grace
Well with that foundation, let’s look at just one example of Grace in the Old Testament. This is not only an example of Grace, but what’s interesting is that the writer of this passage of Scripture actually KNEW he was writing about Grace. He was resting in the Lord, basking in the Grace of the Lord, hundreds of years before the Cross.
So filled with Grace is this passage of Scripture that millions of New Covenant believers have treasured it. The passage is the 23rd Psalm.
Let’s just take a brief look at it, but try to look at it through new eyes. The eyes of Grace, the eyes of seeing the Lord’s undeserved favor toward, not just David, the author, but toward you.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
You know, one of the things that broke Jesus' heart when He walked the Earth was seeing how the people were like sheep without a shepherd.
But to believers, the Lord is our Shepherd. And because of that, we shall not want. That means lack. That means He will meet all of our needs.
Why? Because we earned it? Because we deserve it? Because we worked for it?
No. You see this is an example of grace, even in the Old Testament. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. I shall not lack anything.
In fact, if I think that I lack something, if I think that I need something, God has promised that He will meet all of my needs. And if I don't have it now, I don't need it now. I don't always know what I need. But the Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want, I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
That's where peace comes in, and peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Peace comes from knowing Him and resting in Him. And that's why I say that even David rested in the Lord, basked in the presence of the Lord.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
Can you just picture that in your mind?
He leads me beside the still waters. "Still waters" is not only a picture of serenity and peace again, and resting in the Lord, but the waters are also a picture of what we are fulfilled in when we thirst for that presence of the Lord.
As a deer pants by the waterbrook, so our souls thirst for the Lord. And we can fulfill that thirst through His presence, by His grace.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
How often we need our souls restored. At the end of a long day, sometimes there's nothing we need more than to simply have our souls restored.
And I'll just make a practical suggestion:
If you haven't had your soul restored by the time you go to bed, take some time there. Just talk to the Lord, bask in His presence, and let Him restore you soul. He does it by grace.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake.
You know, that starts with the free gift of righteousness that He gives us when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But then that righteousness, that new spirit that He gives us, is fulfilled in our actual lives. He works in us, as Paul wrote the Philippians, to will and to do for His good pleasure.
He lead us in the paths of righteousness.
For His name's sake.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. It honors Him when I walk with Him, when I walk in the Spirit. It honors Him. And people say...instead of people saying, "There's that hypocrite Christian," they say, "Look at what the Lord has done in that person's life."
Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
God takes away our fear by grace when we walk with Him, even through the valley of the shadow of death -- the most frightening situations in life, the most tenuous circumstances, the things that would most crush our soul and cause fear...we don't have to fear.
For you are with me!
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
We should be comforted by the presence of the Lord, even as David was. And just think of how much more knowledge we have of why this is all able to be given to us. Through the Cross. Through the New Covenant.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.
All by grace.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Where is the "house of the Lord" now?
We are the house of the Lord! "Christ in you, the hope of glory". God has taken up residence in us through His Holy Spirit, and we are so near to Him that when we say to "draw near to Him", that "drawing near" is as close as the Kingdom of God within you. It's as close as "Christ in you, the hope of glory".
This presence of the Lord, this Lord Who is my Shepherd, is right here, with me and with you.
And it's all by grace.
Grace even in the Old Testament. And how much more so in the New Covenant!
"Twenty-Three" By Scott Krippayne