Old and New Covenant Gods
Nov 11, 2006
One of the most destructive results of the carnal mind's dualistic thinking, in my opinion, is the idea that the Old Testament God is a God of War, Law, and Vengeance, while the God of the New Testament (Jesus) is the God of Peace, Grace, and Love. This dualistic view has brought about the modern "Dual Covenant Theology," in which says that the Jews are saved by the Law through the Old Covenant, and the Christians are saved by Grace through the New Covenant.
The outworking of this false theology means that Jews are already saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ and the Cross, as if to say that they do not need His Sacrifice to cover their sins. And so, those of this viewpoint seek to convert non-Jews only. In 2002 the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops issued a report establishing this theology and said that they had shut down all missions to Jews.
In my view, such people are sealing Jews in their unbelief. Jews are delighted with this, because they have been pushing for such a theology for many years. But in reality, this only consigns more Jews to the judgment of God in the end.
The Old Covenant can save no one unless he is perfect. The Old Covenant makes salvation conditional, saying, "IF you will obey My voice indeed" (Ex. 19:5). The New Covenant, on the other hand, puts the responsibility upon God's shoulders, saying, "I will write My laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts" (Heb. 8:10).
Under the Old Covenant, one is saved by works--how well you can keep the law; under the New Covenant, one is saved by grace through faith, and works follow. The Old Covenant was never meant to save anyone, though it certainly presents this method to anyone who has enough confidence in the flesh to think that perfection by works may be possible. Thus, if Jews are to be saved by works through the Old Covenant, then NONE OF THEM CAN BE SAVED.
For years this dualistic thinking has made people think of the Old Testament God as being quite mean and vicious, smiting His enemies on every side. The anger of the Lord waxes hot every time He sees people sinning. What a temper He seems to have! But when we fast-foward to the New Testament, we find Jesus presenting to us a God of Love, a personal God who is not merely an impersonal Judge, but our very personal FATHER.
Somehow, in the shuffle, we have identified this God of Love with Jesus Himself and the New Covenant, but not with the One God of the Bible. Jesus said, "I and My Father are one," but yet many do not really understand what that means.
Jesus is the God of the Old Covenant, as well as the God of the New Covenant. He is the God of ALL the covenants in Scripture. He is the God of both Love and Justice, Law and Grace. To Moses, He was the Lawgiver, the Yahweh of the Old Covenant. Exodus 15:2 says,
"Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua; This is My God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will extol Him."
This is confirmed in many other places, including Isaiah 12:2 and 3, which says,
"God is my Yeshua. . . for Yah Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of Yeshua."
Jesus referred to this verse in John 7:37-39, telling the people that if they were thirsty, they should come to Him as the Spring of Living Water. Simeon, too, recognized in these prophecies that the Messiah would be named Yeshua, for when He saw Him as a baby, he said in Luke 2:29, 30, "Now, Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word, for my eyes have seen Thy salvation" [Yeshua].
I say all this to make the point that Jesus was the incarnation of the Old Testament God that was revealed to Moses under the name of Yahweh. So if Jesus Himself gave the Law to Moses, and if He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then how is it that we think His laws reflect the character of a different God? I have had people actually try to convince me that the Law was given by Satan! To me, that is utter blasphemy, because that equates Yahweh (and Jesus) with Satan.
Paul tells Timothy, "The Law is good, if one uses it lawfully" (1 Tim. 1:8). I say that the Law is good if a man interprets it as Jesus did in His "Sermon on the Mount." This sermon did not negate the "old law" and create a "new law of love." Instead, it negated the old, pharisaical understanding of the law and re-interpreted it according to the divine understanding. It created a new concept of God that had been misunderstood through years of rabbinical teaching.
A big part of this misunderstanding was created as a result of Israel's refusal to hear God's voice at Mount Sinai in Exodus 20:18-21. Their refusal to take the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word, left them only with a carnal, physical sword. This is why God told Joshua to "smite the Canaanites." Yes, of course, we may argue that the Canaanites were corrupt and that their religion included human sacrifice. But that is not the total answer. I say to you that the Canaanites would have welcomed a God of Love, if the Israelites had been able to demonstrate the Power of the Holy Spirit. They would have repented, if given such an opportunity.
But because Israel refused this better weapon, God told them to take their default weapons and smite the Canaanites. Was it because God (Jesus) hated Canannites? No, of course not. But the Pharisees had been teaching the people for a long time to "love your neighbor and hate your enemies" (Matt. 5:43). The people actually began to think that the Law had commanded them to hate their enemies. THERE IS NO SUCH LAW.
And so, Jesus showed love and respect for the hated Samaritans (John 4:9). Later, Philip preached to them (Acts 8), and--what a surprise!--the Holy Spirit was given to them!! And then to make matters even worse, God spoke to a Roman soldier and gave him some very specific revelation, so that he could find Peter (Acts 10). When they heard the Word, the Holy Spirit came upon them as well (Acts 10:44).
This was absolutely revolutionary in those days. It even took most of the Apostles by surprise. Peter had to justify his actions before the rest of them (Acts 11). Can't you hear them? "Hey, the Holy Spirit is OUR inheritance; why are you squandering our inheritance on pigs, dogs, and other unclean people?" But God showed Peter that it was not right to call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28). God showed Peter that He was not partial toward Jews (Acts 10:34).
After 2,000 years of Church history, one would think that we would have learned this lesson by now. But in the past century we have lost it in the rise of Christian Zionism and its son, Dual Covenant Theology. God is again presented as being partial. Palestinians and Arabs are again the "enemy." The solution is once again force of arms, kill or be killed. And the model is once again the rabbinic understanding of the law and the Old Covenant method of salvation. I can understand a Jew thinking this way, but what excuse do Christians have?
Those who call down fire from heaven upon the heads of "the enemy" do not know the nature of the Spirit that God has given us (Luke 9:54-56). That attitude is warped, Jesus said, "for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
This was the God of Elijah speaking. I am not criticizing Elijah, for his actions, like that of Joshua, were determined beforehand by Israel's decision at Mount Sinai. But our actions today ought to be determined by the decision of the disciples in the upper room. Let us find the Lost Sword before more people are killed.
Dr. Stephen Jones