Type
A person, thing, or event that foreshadows a later, often more important, antitype or fulfillment.
The Old and New Covenants
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Summary: God promises abundant life, now and for eternity, for those who follow His commands and accept His grace.
 
This article is part of a series. We recommend that you first read: God's People will Judge.
 

God's Covenant

A covenant is a type of agreement that is made between two parties. It is a promise.

When sin entered the world God immediately took action to remedy the situation. He gave humanity a second chance to come into alignment with His government, which is the only way to live a happy and eternal existence. He did this by making a promise that we would not have to suffer the ultimate penalty for sin but could by grace through faith accept a substitute.

Someone was willing to take our punishment and that person was God himself. God the Son promised to one day take our punishment. However, in order to teach people what a great and significant sacrifice this would be, He delayed the promise for a while and taught the great lesson of God’s love through a system of symbols. He did this by what is known as the old covenant. Hebrews explains a little of what this is all about:

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…

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary…

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices…

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us… 


And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 8:13; 9:1,9,11-12,15).

The Symbolism of the Old Covenant


The old and new covenants work very much like a hand and a glove. The glove would be of absolute no value without the hand. So it is with the old covenant or sacrificial system and ceremonial laws. These were created to give light and meaning to what God’s promise was really all about.

Everything that made up the earthly tabernacle and its system had a special meaning and represented something else. For example, at the entrance to the tabernacle was a gate which represented Jesus, for He said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” 



The courtyard to the tabernacle had an outer wall of pure white linen which represents Christ’s righteousness and His covering us with it:


Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).

The altar of sacrifice represented Jesus’ death on the cross:


Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The laver where the priests performed their ceremonial washings represented Jesus as the living water and the washing away of our sin:


But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14).

From there, the priest would enter the holy place containing the table of shew bread (Jesus the bread of life, see John 6:35), the candlestick (Jesus the light of the world, see John 8:12), and the altar of incense.

Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Then, once a year, the priest would enter the most holy place where the Ark of the Covenant was held. The Ark contained the Ten Commandments. Above it was the mercy seat representing God’s grace and mercy towards us though we have broken His law.

It is important to note that law of Ten Commandments, God’s moral law that represents His character, was placed inside the Ark, representing its permanency. The ceremonial law was placed beside the Ark, representing that is would be temporary.

We have only just touched on the symbolism of the tabernacle. In part 2 of The Old and New Covenants, we will see how the old and new covenants fit together.

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