Did Jesus’ Coming Abolish the Old Covenant?
Many people think that when Jesus came, well the Old Testament got replaced. They think that long ago God dealt with His people one way, but then He sort of changed His mind and sent Jesus and so now interacts with His people by a different method. These folk discount the Old Testament as passé, irrelevant to present Christianity.
But God did not change plans midstream. His plans and purposes are eternal. Nothing, not even the fall of Adam and Eve, and the subsequent sinful state of all humankind, came by surprise to God. Nothing thwarted His good purposes.
The book of Hebrews is all about contrasts between the Old and new covenants, and in Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” In Revelation 13:8, yes, oddly the same chapter and verse, we have Jesus referred to as “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” John tells us that Jesus was the eternal Word, God Himself, Who became flesh (see John 1:1, 14).
From these facts we see that God always had in mind humankind’s need for a Saviour – even before He said “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). At no point did God’s plan get foiled, take a turn, or need replacement.
Gradually He led His creation to understand His Love for them, His provision, promises, and eternal plans for them. From the beginning the idea of death as a consequence was made clear: in his warnings to Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:17), His provision of the first animal sacrifice in covering their nakedness (Gen, 3:21), the foreshadowing by the sacrificial system of Christ as Sacrificial Lamb, and the eventual entrance of Christ into time, His life, ministry, death on the cross, and resurrection.
Jesus did not come to abolish what the law required: righteousness and holiness of life, but to fulfill the only method of effecting fallen humankind’s redemption: the sacrificial death of the holy for the unholy, the ultimate demonstration of mercy, given by grace as God always intended.
As Christ Himself clearly stated, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:17-18).
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