When Covenants Apply I Gal. 3

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Now that we have seen the covenants in the Bible and have rightly divided a couple of Old Testament passages concerning Jesus Christ, we must determine when the covenants apply.  That way we won’t misapply scripture.

For instance, the covenants are all established in the Old Testament but they are not fulfilled in the Old Testament.  God covenanted with Abraham to give him and his seed the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. They didn’t get it in the Old Testament and they still don’t have it.  No one kept the covenant that God made with Moses until Jesus fulfilled the law in his earthly ministry.  David’s throne sits unoccupied by its rightful king and will continue to be unoccupied by its rightful king until Jesus returns.  The New Covenant has been only partially fulfilled because Israel is still not saved.

As we saw in the last lesson, the biggest challenge for Bible students is to recognize that the Old Testament prophecies are dispensational.  Thus, we must rightly divide those prophecies into the times when they were or will be fulfilled.  They are all fulfilled in one of these times: the first coming of Jesus, the Tribulation, the Second Coming of Jesus, or the millennial reign of Jesus.  None of the prophecies have anything to do with the Church age.  If you understand this, you won’t get messed up with doctrinally applying Old Testament scriptures to New Testament doctrine.

Now, when you get to the New Testament, you must recognize which covenants are in effect during the various time periods [dispensations] covered in the New Testament.  We will list each dispensation and discuss when covenants apply.  Keep in mind that the covenant in Eden and the covenant with Noah apply in all the dispensations, although animals won’t be eating each other in the millennium.

Jesus’ first comingAbraham – Jesus only came for the lost sheep of Israel [Matt 15:24].  Moses – Jesus came to fulfill the law [Matt 5:17-18].  He told the rich, young ruler to keep the commandments to inherit eternal life [Matt 19:17].  David – the prophesied king of the Jews was born [Matt 2:2], but he did not reign on the throne of David [Jn 19:14-15].  New – Jesus made the atonement required for the New Covenant to become effective [Heb 9:15-26] and he took away the sins of Israel, but Israel was not saved then [Rom 11:25-27, Heb 8:8-13].

Therefore, you wouldn’t preach the Sermon on the Mount for New Testament salvation; it is the constitution for Israel in Christ’s millennial kingdom.  Yet, churches around the world preach the Sermon on the Mount as Church age doctrine and New Testament salvation.  A Gentile Christian wouldn’t routinely pray the “Lord’s prayer” [Matt 6:19-23]; it is a Jewish disciple’s prayer.  Yet, professing Christians around the world pray this prayer constantly.  And you wouldn’t attempt to live by the “Golden Rule” [Matt 7:12] as your means to get to heaven; yet men and women attempt to justify themselves by this rule to this day.

Church AgeAbraham – this covenant doesn’t apply during the church age, except that our faith in Christ was typified by Abraham’s faith [Rom 4] and Christ is the promised seed [Gal 3].  Moses – this covenant doesn’t apply [Jn 1:17; Matt 11:13; Lk 16:16]; Christ blotted “out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us,” [Col 2:14; Eph 2:14-15].  David – this covenant doesn’t apply because Christ is not ruling on the earth right now.  New – this covenant with Israel [Jer 31:31-34] has been broadened to include us [Acts 10-11; 28:28] and has been partially fulfilled in our new birth [Jn 3:3-7] and eternal security [Jn 5:24; Jn 6:37; Rom 8:38-39].

Therefore, a man cannot be saved by keeping the law in the Church age [Rom 6:14], the Church has not replaced Israel in the Old Testament prophecies, and Jesus still has yet to return and sit on the throne of David to rule.  The rapture of the Church will signal that the other Old Testament covenants which don’t apply in the Church age will begin to apply again; the body of Christ will be gone [Col 2:17].