The Israelites in the time of Moses covenanted with God; not long after He delivers them from the Egyptians. The people agree to obey God, and keep His commandments. Their exact words are recorded for us in Exodus 19:8.
“And all the people answered together, and said, ‘All that the LORD hath spoken we will do’. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.”
They made this promise as their agreement to enter into a covenant with the Lord, but it was based on a promise that was weakened by their flesh, which the Lord would later reveal to them.
Their choice was good in desiring to do God’s will. However, their promises to perform God’s will derived from a fleshly confidence that was based on their own strength to accomplish it. All their promises only proved that the “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Not long after their covenant with God, they realized their promise was lacking the needed power to perform it. This is exactly Paul’s description which we read about in Romans 7:19 ESV — “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
Sure, they made confession with their mouths but it wasn’t established on faith, but on works. Titus 3:5 ESV — “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”
All of mankind’s empty promises through all ages on both sides of the cross – whether they be old or new covenant followers – matter not and are compared to ropes of sand. For there is no power without the keeping-power that comes from the same Lord above all. They were to have the faith of Him as their coming Messiah, and we are to have the faith of Christ who now sits at the right hand of God.
Even though the fulfillment of the new covenant had not historically happened for those waiting for their Messiah, this didn’t mean that the Israelites couldn’t live by faith on every word that proceeded from the mouth of God.
Abraham was the example of the new covenant faith that was always available to all of Israel. The book of Hebrews chapter 11 is full of this kind of faith, and certainly Abraham’s faith was proof of what pleases God, for his faith was proved when he was willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac on the altar. See also Romans 4:9-12.
A man did finally keep all “his” promises, but it wasn’t just any man. It was the God-Man Jesus Christ. This covenant in which Jesus fulfilled is mentioned in Genesis 3:15. This verse reveals not only the first covenant, but also the new covenant, for they are both one in the same.
When Christ died, that sealed both His promise and His laws into the new covenant, which we call the New Testament. And at this point nothing could be added or taken away from the new covenant.
I found the following in an adult Sabbath School lesson quarterly:
“The stories of Hagar, Ishmael, and the children of Israel at Sinai illustrate the foolishness of trying to rely upon our own efforts to accomplish what God has promised. This method of self-righteousness is referred to as the old covenant. The new covenant is the everlasting covenant of grace first established with Adam and Eve after sin, renewed with Abraham, and ultimately fulfilled in Christ.” (Lesson 10, 3rd quartet, 2 September 2017)
Satan’s Plan is Works-Based!
Believing “in” Christ will not do for having His righteousness. Even Satan believes IN Christ! The true Christian produces righteousness by having the faith “of” Christ. For which Christ receives all the glory!
In Paul’s own conversion story (Philippians 3:3-11), he shares the covenant strength for the Christian life. Paul wanted us to know that we can have victorious power in our Christian walk. However, it won’t be found in prior confidence in the flesh (old covenant thinking), but is available by submission to the new covenant through the faith of Christ. Christ’s New Covenant empowers us for obedience, with His love as the motivational source of that power.
R Scott Holder writes on a variety of practical spiritual topics.