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  • Sam Matthews. K

138. Gospel founded on better promises.

'The ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is a mediator is superior to the old one and it is founded on better promises.' (Hebrews 8:6) Every covenant is founded on promises starting with God's covenant with Adam, then with Noah, Abraham, Israel, David and now the new covenant in the blood of Christ with the Church. It was an improvement on the previous covenant with Israel, which was temporary and the fulfillment of the eternal covenant with Abraham. The promises on which the old covenant with Israel was made were as follows:- "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them ... And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.'" (Exodus 6:6-8) The first promise was deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the second promise was 'a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey' in Canaan.(Exodus 3:8) In essence, the promise meant that they would journey from Egypt to Canaan; from slavery to freedom; from lack to abundance! But the journey was not easy and people began to grumble at Marah because the water was bitter. So the Lord added a third clause which became the basis for their conditional healing. 'There the Lord made a decree and a law for them and there he tested them. He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you."' (Exodus 15:26) Had they travelled from Eygpt to Canaan without grumbling, God would have kept them from all diseases but they failed time after time, all along the way. Tragically, all who were twenty years old or more, who rebelled against God, perished in the desert, except for Caleb and Joshua and the next generation. (Numbers 14:29-35) During the forty years that Moses led them, their clothes didn't wear out nor did the sandals on their feet (Deuteronomy 29:5), but the bodies of those who rebelled against God, wore out within forty years, because they wouldn't listen to his voice or pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees. Couldn't he who could prevent their clothes and sandals from wearing out, keep their bodies healthy? He could have but they failed to receive the covenant healing because it was conditional. Therefore God sought to make a new covenant with the nation of Israel. 'For if there was nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord when I will make a new covenant ... It will not be like the old covenant I made with their forefathers ... This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel ... I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people ..." (Hebrews 8:7-12/ Jeremiah 31:31-34) The new covenant is superior to the old, as it was founded on better promises and God himself became the mediator of the better covenant, unlike the old covenant which was put into effect by angels (Galatians 3 19) with Moses as the mediator. So how are the promises better? Firstly, the new covenant promises us freedom from the slavery of sin whereas the old covenant promised them freedom from slavery in Egypt. Though they were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they were still slaves to sin. Secondly, the new covenant promises us a heavenly inheritance whereas the old covenant promised them an earthly inheritance. Though they conquered Cannan, they lost control over it and were exiled. Thirdly, the new covenant promises us unconditional healing by the wounds of Jesus whereas the old covenant promised them conditional healing. How privileged we are to live in the new testament times! But some are still searching for promises in the old testament when the new testament promises are superior. You can't claim a promise from a covenant that is obsolete! Moreover, it was made to the nation of Israel and not to us. 'By calling this covenant "new", he has made the first one obsolete..' (Hebrews 8:13) Let's therefore lay hold of the Gospel promises of the Holy Spirit, blessings and healing in Christ. Amen.

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