Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Law And The New Covenant

As it says at the top of my blog, I'm a theonomist. A practical definition of theonomy, which I will borrow from R.C. Sproul, Jr. is "the conviction that the civil law God gave to Israel in the Old Testament ought to be the law of the land in all nations everywhere." Either we have man's law, which is autonomy from God, or God's Law, which is theonomy. But the question always arises when one first hears of theonomy, "What? Are you saying we should be offering sacrifices and observing the feasts? Are you saying that we are obligated to keep the law of Moses in order to be saved?" No. I am saying, with David, that I love God's law and the answers to how we are to love God and love our neighbor are found within the Law. We ought to love God's law and obey His commands. Christ said the same thing in Matthew 5, blessed are those who do and teach them, for they shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I'm not going to give a treatise on theonomy here, that is already spelled out elsewhere in thousands of pages. I recommend Rushdoony to any that wish to get a grasp on the subject. What I am doing here is trying to figure out or understand the contrast between the relationship of God's people and the Law under the Old Covenant and the relationship of God's people and the Law in the New Covenant, and in particular, the point being made in the Letter to the Hebrews. Under both Covenants, the Law of God is the Law of God. It is one and the same Law. But there is this mystical transference of the Law from tables of stone to residence in our hearts. What does this mean to the Christian? How is this manifested in her life?

My thoughts on this matter were provoked by an article from Every Thought Captive which was posted on facebook this week. The article was written in 2007, but the content is of the type that never becomes dated.The author, Mark Dewey, points out that great thinkers like Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin struggled with Hebrews 8: 6-13, so we shouldn't be surprised if the whole meaning isn't obvious to us. Dewey is attempting to explain the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New. But what really stood out to me in this passage, and throughout the entire context of chapters 8, 9 and 10, was how the Law was stored, so to speak, under the Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant.

In verse 8 we are reminded of the prophecy of the coming New Covenant:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah
In the next verse we are told why God will make a new covenant, because of what happened with the old one:
... because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
As part of the old covenant, God had given them His Law, written on tablets of stone. But His plan for the new covenant is different, He isn't going to put the Law on tablets of stone:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people
It is just as Jesus said, He didn't come to abolish the Law or the prophets. Not only is God not going to abolish the Law within the New Covenant, He plans to establish it by writing it on our hearts! Should the Law have less relevance to us than it did to Moses, or more?  In verse 11 of Hebrews chapter 8 we are told that God writing His Law on our hearts and into our minds will result in all of his people knowing Him.
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
What a great and loving God! He wants us to know Him, so He facilitates that by writing His Law on our hearts and mind. Knowing God's Law is essential to knowing HIM. And if it wasn't clear enough already, by chapter 10 we are told that this new covenant that is to come is, in fact, HERE. That is, it was established with Jesus' sacrifice of himself on the cross and witnessed to by the Holy Ghost. (Hebrews 10:10-17)

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