Reading: Exodus 19
Have you ever wondered, “What's so new about the New Covenant?” There are certainly a broad range of perspectives in Christendom as to how much continuity or discontinuity there is between the Old Covenant (specifically, the Sinai or Mosaic covenant), and the New Covenant. One pastor was asked why he has preached through the whole New Testament in his church, but never preached through an Old Testament book. He responded by saying that he didn't preach through Old Testament books because they didn't have anything to do with us as Christians. This was right after another pastor had just finished preaching a message about how to preach the Old Testament as Christian scripture (after all, the apostles did).
Exodus 19 is where we find the origins of the Sinai or Mosaic covenant. This is often referred to as the Law. Here we can discover some real distinctions between that covenant and the New Covenant which is made through Christ's blood.
And the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death." (Exodus 19:10-12)
Three days later, when the Lord did come down on the mountain, we read,
“Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.” (Exodus 19:21)
A constant theme of the covenant made on Mount Sinai is a warning to not draw near, or come close to God. Before anyone could come close, and that only once a year by a priest, blood had to be shed for him. The presence of God was a fearsome place. The idea of being invited to draw near with confidence was foreign to the covenant made through Moses at Sinai.
However, when we arrive at the New Covenant, all this has changed. Instead of a warning to stay away, we have invitations to draw near.
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Hebrews 4:16 HCSB)
19Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14 NIV)
Is there any doubt that this invitation, this open door from God to come right into His presence, is, practically speaking, the biggest difference between the two covenants? And it is here, in this place of sensing God's invitation to come right to him through Christ, without any fear of condemnation, without any guilt for anything we have or haven't done, that most Christians struggle. When we don't approach the throne of grace, when we stay away from God because of guilt or condemnation, we are wasting the precious blood of Christ through which the way has been made. Let us ever remember,
18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death." 21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear." 22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. (Hebrews 12:18-25)
Under the Mosaic law, we were warned to stay away. We had to stay away because the way to God had not been opened. However, in Jesus Christ, God has drawn near to us. He broke the barrier and has made a way whereby we can waltz into His presence without fear. Not only will we not die, but rather, we are coming to life itself, for in Him is life. Let's see to it that we do not refuse the invitation that says, “Why are you waiting out there? The door Is open, come on in!” [For more on this subject see, What is the difference between Law and Gospel? (Part 1).] Let us go through Jesus, knowing He hears and knowing He answers our prayer.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,