Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin

B. Childress
Apr 11 2008

The Mosaic Covenant is the most complicated and the most difficult of all covenants to interpret.  The elaborate wording of
the covenant, the prolific and intricate details of the sacrifices, priesthood and sanctuary and the complete governing of the
national life of Israel by the sabbaths and religious festivals make it the fullest expression of a covenant in Scripture.  Its
explicit external forms, when rightly interpreted, illustrate the more implicit elements of other covenants.  However, both in
the early Church and today, much confusion has arisen concerning the purpose of this covenant and its relationship to the
other covenants.  This is illustrated in Acts 15 and in the Epistles to the Galatians and Hebrew believers.

Why was this covenant given?  Did it annul the Abrahamic Covenant?  How does the New Covenant affect it?  Is it in effect
today? How these questions are answered has great theological and eschatological implications.

With whom was the Covenant made?

The Mosaic Covenant was made strictly and only with the chosen nation of Israel (Exodus 24:7,8; Deuteronomy 5:1-5; I
Kings 8:9,21; Jeremiah 31:31-32; Romans 5:12-14 with John 1:17; Romans 9:4,5).

When was the Covenant given?

The Mosaic Covenant was made 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant (Galatians 3:14-18).  It was given to Israel in the
wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt.  Before this time it was not in effect but was preceded by other covenants of
grace and faith.

Why was the Covenant made?

There are two parts to the reason why God gave the Mosaic Covenant; that which pertains to Israel's probation and that
which pertains to the purpose of God.

    a.  Nation on Probation

    Abraham's seed was multiplying and becoming a nation in Egypt, according to the promise, they forsook the Lord
    and worshipped the idols of Egypt.  They failed to maintain their covenantal relationship with the Lord and thus found
    themselves in bondage (Exodus 1:7-12; Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:5-9).

    Exodus 1-4 records the birth and call of Moses who would turn Israel back to God and deliver them from Egyptian
    bondage.  This deliverance was based on the covenant of grace and faith made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac,
    and Jacob.  In remembering the covenant, God showed Himself to be a covenant-keeping God by revealing His
    covenant name to Moses and promising to bring Israel into the covenant land (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:6,13-17; 6:1-8).  
    God even gave Moses signs to perform so that Israel would believe in the covenant promises (Exodus 4:1,5,8,9,27-
    31).  However, God sought to kill Moses for failing to maintain the Abrahamic Covenant seal of circumcision in his
    own family.  He could not deliver Israel on the basis of the covenant his own family was not keeping (Genesis 17:9-
    14; Exodus 4:24-26; Acts 7:8).

    Exodus 5-12 records the falling of the ten plagues of judgment on Egypt and the miraculous preservation and
    deliverance of Israel in connection with the Passover Feast.  This was all in fulfillment of the promise God made with
    Abraham in Genesis 15.  On the basis of grace and through their faith and obedience, Israel experienced the
    benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant in their deliverance from Egypt.

    This renewal of the Abrahamic Covenant placed the nation on further probation.  God took them from Egypt into the
    Wilderness to prove them and to know what was in their heart (Deuteronomy 8:2,3,15,16).  Between Egypt and Sinai
    God gave them four tests of faith and obedience.  In each case they failed.  They failed at the test of the Red Sea
    (Exodus 14:10-12,31).  They failed at the test of the waters of Marah (Exodus 15:23-26).  They failed at the
    Wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16:1-12), and they also failed at the test of Rephidim (Exodus 17:1-7).

    Though only a few weeks removed from the miracles of Egypt, their ungrateful and murmuring complaints exposed
    their evil hearts of unbelief (Psalms 78:1-54; 106;1-15).  This generation that came out of Egypt proved themselves
    to be a perverse, crooked, and froward generation, "children in whom there is no faith" (Deuteronomy 32:5,20,28,29).

    Their subsequent history shows them provoking God ten times (Numbers 14:22).  Though they promised God to
    obey all His commandments (Exodus 19:8; 24:3,7), the Lord lamented the fact that there was no such heart in them
    to obey (Deuteronomy 5:28,29).  Even after receiving the Mosaic Covenant this generation rejected the covenant
    land and wandered in the Wilderness for 40 years until they all had died (Numbers 13-14 with Hebrews 3-4 and Jude
    5).  All of this is evidence of the failure of the nation on probation.

    In boasting their ability to obey, this generation fell from the ground of grace and faith to the ground of law and
    works.  Thus God gave them a covenant of law and works to expose their helplessness and inability to keep
    covenant apart from the grace of God.

    b.  World in Court

    Under the Abrahamic Covenant God chose Israel out of the nations to be a model nation through which He could
    reveal His redemptive purposes, His character, and His way of life to other nations (Deuteronomy 5:6-8, 31-40).

    In representing all other nations before God, Israel's failure illustrated and confirmed the guilt of all the world, both
    Jew and Gentile, before God (Romans 3:19).

    Through the Mosaic Covenant God brought the whole world into the "courtroom" of His just judgment where the
    Divine attributes of righteousness, truth, mercy, and peace were to be revealed.  This judgment was actually to
    prepare the way for the New Covenant.  Following are twelve aspects to the Divine purpose for the giving of the
    Mosaic or the Law Covenant.

    (1)  To set forth the Divine standard of righteousness (Psalms 19:7-10; Romans 7:12-14).

    (2)  To give a clear external definition of sin.

    (3)  To show Israel the exceeding sinfulness and deceitfulness of sin (Romans 7:11-13; Galatians 3:19).

    (4)  To expose to all men their guilt before God (Romans 3:19).

    (5)  To preserve the nation of Israel and the chosen Messianic seed line from total corruption by other nations
    (Galatians 3:19).

    (6)  To shut Israel up as a nation "in custody" under a schoolmaster and thus prepare them for Christ's coming
    (Galatians 3:22-25; 4:1-3).

    (7)  To illustrate the two major ways of God's dealings with man, which are seen in perfect balance in His own
    being; Law and Grace (John 1:17).

    (8)  To foreshadow and typify all the truths of grace and redemption in the ceremonial law, and to typify the
    person and the work of Christ (Romans 2:20; Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17).

    (9)  To provide in the ceremonial law a temporary atonement (covering) for sin by which Israel could approach
    God in worship and upon the basis of which He could dwell in their midst (Hebrews 9-10).

    (10)  To illustrate more fully and clearly in visible and temporal form all of the elements involved in covenantal
    revelation (Romans 2:20).

    (11)  To show all the world that none can be justified (made righteous) by the Law, but only through grace and
    faith (Romans 3:19-22; 9:30-32; 10:1-6; Galatians 3:10-16).

    (12)  To show that the Law Covenant could not give life, but that only the New Covenant "in Christ" could
    (Galatians 3:12 with Leviticus 18:5).

What is the Relationship of the Mosaic Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant?

In the early Church there was much confusion concerning the relationship of three great covenants; the Abrahamic, the
Mosaic, and the New Covenants.  Paul gave the solution by pinpointing the relationship of the Mosaic Covenant to the
Abrahamic covenant.  The five parts to this answer that are given in the Epistles are listed below:

    a.  The Mosaic Covenant did not annul nor replace the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The Abrahamic
    Covenant had been made irrevocable by its promises being confirmed with an oath (Galatians 3:8,9,14-18;
    Hebrews 6:13-20).

    b.  The Mosaic Covenant was added to or "placed alongside" the Abrahamic Covenant because of Israel's
    transgressions (Galatians 3:19).

    c.  The Mosaic Covenant once instituted was to run parallel or co-exist with the Abrahamic Covenant.  For this
    reason the prophets spoke of the covenants co-existing in their day (Galatians 3:15-19; Ezekiel 16:59-63).  
    The Mosaic Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant both flow into the cross; their ceremonial elements being
    fulfilled and abolished and their spiritual and eternal elements being fulfilled in the New Covenant.

    d.  The Mosaic Covenant was imposed or "laid upon" Israel to prefigure the person and work of Christ
    (Hebrews 9:9,10).

    e.  The Mosaic Covenant was temporal, given until Christ the seed of Abraham would come and until the time
    of reformation which would be brought about by the New Covenant (Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 9:10).

The Abrahamic Covenant, which was everlasting and irrevocable, was not annulled by the Mosaic Covenant which was
temporarily imposed upon Israel until the time when the New Covenant would fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and abolish the
Mosaic Covenant.  Thus the Abrahamic Covenant  was the transcending eternal covenant while the Mosaic Covenant was
the temporary additional covenant.

I.  The WORDS of the Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant contains more words than any other covenant given in Old Testament times.  Numerous chapters
are given to record the words of this covenant (Exodus 20-40; Leviticus 1-27; Numbers 1-10,15,18,19,28,29,30-36),
Deuteronomy 1-34).  All these words could be classified under the three major divisions of the Law; Moral, Civil and

  • The Moral Law

    This consisted of the Ten Commandments written on two tables of stone.  These were particularly called "His
    Covenant" and "The Ten Words" (Deuteronomy 4:13,23; 10:1-5).  The Ten Commandments set forth the Divine
    righteous standard of morality for human conduct in relation to both God and man (Exodus 20; 34:27,28).

  • The Civil Law

    This multiplied variety of regulations were simply amplifications of the basic principles stated in the Moral Law
    (Exodus 21-23 being sample chapters).  These applications of law governed every area of Israel's life; civilly,
    socially, economically, personally, and legally.

  • The Ceremonial Law

    This detailed an explicit set of laws governing the sacrifices, the priesthood, the sanctuary and the festival occasions
    provided atonement for the sins and uncleanness of Israel, individually and nationally.  It foreshadowed the person
    and work of Christ in grace.

    A.  The Promises of the Covenant

1.  Promises of Blessing

    In that Israel was to receive the promises of blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant was
    primarily an addition of conditions to the receiving of those blessings.  While the Abrahamic Covenant was
    primarily a covenant of promise the Mosaic Covenant was primarily one of conditions.  Thus the statements of
    promise found in the words of the Mosaic Covenant are actually affirmations of the promises God made in the
    Abrahamic Covenant.  These promises involve personal, national, geographical, and spiritual blessings
    (Exodus 23:25-33; Leviticus 25,26).

Promises of Cursing

    Though no specific curses are uttered at Mt. Sinai, the consequences of unbelief and the punishments for
    disobedience were clearly spelled out to the first generation out of Egypt (Exodus 22:22-24; Leviticus 26:14-
    16).  Though the prophet Balaam could not curse Israel, whom God had blessed, they could bring the curse of
    punishment upon themselves by breaking the conditions of the covenant (Numbers 22,23,24; Galatians 3:10).  
    The curses of the broken covenant were fully spelled out in the curses of the Palestinian Covenant which was
    given to the second generation as an extension of the Mosaic Covenant.

    B.  The Terms of the Covenant

    In that the Mosaic Covenant was primarily adding conditions to the irrevocable promises of the Abrahamic Covenant,
    it is filled with numerous "ifs" which become the terms of the covenant.  Though under previous covenants the terms
    involved an obedience that arose out of faith, under this covenant the term was an obedience that arose out of the
    works of self-effort.  Thus faith obedience was replaced with legal obedience (Leviticus 18:5; Galatians 3:10-12).  
    Under this covenant Israel could obtain the promise of life only by fulfilling the works of the law to obtain
    righteousness (Deuteronomy 6:25; Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:1-5; Galatians 3:21).  However, under other
    covenants they could receive righteousness by faith in God's promises and therefore be able to do His will (Galatians
    3:11; Romans 4:1-5).  The Mosaic Covenant  said "Do and therefore live" while the New Covenant says "Receive life
    and therefore do".  The Mosaic Covenant promoted righteousness by works rather than righteousness by faith.

    1.  The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:1-21)

    The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone, one listing the commandments governing man's
    relationship to God and the other concerning man's relationship to man.  They are called "The Ten Words".

    a.  Relationship to God

    1)  No other gods before Him.

    2)  No graven images to be made or worshipped.

    3)  No taking the name of the Lord in vain.

    4)  Keep the Sabbath day holy to the Lord

    b.  Relationship to Man

    1)  Honor father and mother.

    2)  No Murder.

    3)  No adultery.

    4)  No stealing.

    5)  No False witness.

    6)  No coveting.


    The giving of these commandments automatically required Israel's obedience to them.  This was a legal
    obedience which demanded strict adherence to the commandments.  If they obeyed the commandments there
    was blessing but if they disobeyed there was a curse (Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 13:4; Jeremiah 11:1-10).


    The only heart that this kind of obedience could arise from was a heart of love for the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-
    6; 10:12,13,16; 30:6-8).  It was only as they loved, feared, and served the Lord that they would be able to
    perfectly obey His commandments.

The heart condition required to be able to perfectly fulfill these terms of keeping God's commandments out of loving
obedience was not within Israel's reach because of the law of sin that was at work in their hearts (Deuteronomy 5:28,29;
Romans 7:7-22).  Israel's history under the Mosaic Covenant proved that unless God changed man's heart he would never
be able by self-effort to develop a perfect heart of loving obedience toward the Lord.  Their failure to keep the law was
intended to prepare them for the New Covenant which would bring them "a new heart and a new spirit" and would enable
them to obey God (Ezekiel 36:24-27).  While the Mosaic Covenant commandments were written externally on tables of
stone by the finger God, the New Covenant commandments were written internally on the tables of our heart and mind by
the spirit of God (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8; II Corinthians 3).  The Mosaic Covenant gave commandments to keep,
but no power to keep them, while the New Covenant not only gives the standards of God's righteousness but also the
changing and enabling power of God to fulfill them (Romans 8:1-6).  Human effort alone could never accomplish what could
only be done by the grace and Spirit of God.

    C.  The Oath of the Covenant

    The Mosaic Covenant was not made irrevocable by a confirming oath.  This sets it in contrast with the Abrahamic
    Covenant which was made everlasting and irrevocable by the giving of an oath (Galatians 3:15-17; Hebrews 6:13-

    D.  The Book of the Covenant

    The Scriptures record that this covenant was specifically written in a book.  This "book of the covenant" was
    sprinkled with blood, and was to be read in the audience of the people.  It was later placed in the side of the Ark of
    the Covenant (Exodus 24:7,8; Hebrews 9:19,20; Deuteronomy 31:24-26).

II.  The BLOOD of the Covenant

    A.  The Sacrifice of the Covenant

    The Mosaic Covenant has the fullest and most detailed description of sacrifices of any covenant This illustrates the
    significance of the sacrifice of a covenant and typifies the importance of the atoning work of Christ.

    1.  The Body

    A careful study of the sacrificial ritual reveals how exacting God was about what happened to the body of the
    sacrifice.  At times the body was to be burnt upon the altar.  At other times, it was to be burnt outside the
    camp.  On other occasions God, the priest and the offerer shared portions of the body of the sacrificial victim.  
    These complex requirements find their fulfillment in the sacrifice of the body of Jesus (Matthews 26:26-28;
    Hebrews 10:1-10; 13:11-14).

    2.  The Blood

    God was also very particular about how the sacrificial blood was handled.  At times the blood was sprinkled
    upon the furnishings of the Tabernacle, though most often it was upon the brazen altar.  On the Day of
    Atonement the blood was brought within the veil and sprinkled upon the Mercy seat.  These rituals find their
    fulfillment in the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 9; 13:11-14).

    3.  The Offerings

    a.  The Five Offerings (Leviticus 1-7).

    1)  The Burnt Offering >Voluntary Offerings

    2)  The Meal Offering  >Voluntary Offerings

    3)  The Peace Offering >Voluntary Offerings

    4)  The Sin Offering >Compulsory Offerings

    5)  The Trespass Offering >Compulsory Offerings

    b.  The Two Birds for the cleansing of leprosy (Leviticus 13,14).

    c.  The Daily Sacrifices (Numbers 28:1-8).

    d.  The Sabbath Day Sacrifices (Numbers 28:9,10).

    e.  The Festival Sacrifices (Leviticus 16:23; Numbers 28,29).

    f.    The Sacrifice of the Red Heifer and the Waters of Purification (Numbers).

    This elaborate sacrificial system with its multiplied continual sacrifices was given for two major reasons.  First, it
    was to illustrate that no amount of continued animal sacrifices could effectively take away man's sinfulness.  
    Second, it was to point to Christ's perfect, sinless, and once-for-all sacrifice that could take away man's
    sinfulness (Hebrews 9,10).  It was the multiplicity of sacrifices that caused the Mosaic Covenant to become
    known as "the blood covenant" (Zechariah 9:11; Exodus 24:6-8; Hebrews 9:19,20).

    There are five major truths which God revealed in the blood of the covenants.

    *  The blood has a voice (Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:22-24).

    *  The blood is the life (Genesis 9:4-6; Deuteronomy 12:23).

    *  The blood is given as an atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:10-14).

    *  The blood is the evidence of out-poured life (Deuteronomy 12:16,23,24).

    *  The blood is the evidence of judgment on sin by death (Exodus 12:13; Leviticus 16:15,16).

    B.  The Mediator of the Covenant

    Though the Adamic, Noahic, and Abrahamic Covenants were characterized by patriarchal priesthood, the Mosaic
    Covenant gives the fullest demonstration of priestly service.  The mediating priesthood involved two particular
    persons and then the entire tribe to which they belonged.


    Moses, of the tribe of Levi, acted as the king of the people of Israel and thus became the mediator of the
    words of the covenant (Deuteronomy 33:15).  He was the law-giving mediator between God and Israel (Acts 7:
    31,38,53; Galatians 3:19,20; Deuteronomy 5:22-27).


    Aaron, also of the tribe of Levi, acted as the priest of the people of Israel and thus became the mediator of the
    blood of the covenant (Hebrews 5:1-5).  He was the atoning mediator between God and Israel (Exodus 28,29;
    Leviticus 8,9).  It was from Aaron's household that the succession of High Priests ministered for Israel.


    Upon Israel's failure to enter into the national priesthood in being "a kingdom of priests,"  God chose the tribe
    of Levi to minister before Him (Exodus 19:1-6; Genesis 49:5-7; Deuteronomy 33:8-11; Numbers 3).  It was to
    this tribe that God gave "the covenant of priesthood" (Malachi 2:4-10; Nehemiah 13:29; Numbers 25:10-13).  
    The Book of Leviticus was given primarily to describe their priestly duties and ministrations in relation to the
    people, the sacrifices and the sanctuary of the Lord.

    The dual king-priesthood of Moses and Aaron prefigured the Priesthood of Christ after the Order of
    Melchisedek (Hebrews 3:1; 5:1-5; Psalms 110; Hebrews 7).  The Levitical Priesthood prefigured the priesthood
    of all believers in Christ (I Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 5:5-9; 1:6).

    At the time of the New Covenant a great company of Levitical priests became obedient to the faith and thus
    entered into the Melchisedek Priesthood of Christ (Acts 6:7).

    C.  The Sanctuary of the Covenant

    The sacrificial system and the priesthood ministry both centered in the sanctuary of the covenant, the Tabernacle of
    Moses.  All that was illustrated in the Tabernacle of Eden, and the Patriarchal Altars was embodied in the Tabernacle
    of Moses.  The primary purpose for this Tabernacle is expressed in Exodus 25:8, "And let them make Me a
    sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." The details concerning the building of the Tabernacle are recorded in
    Exodus 25-40.

The Most Holy Place

    This inner chamber was the actual dwelling place of God.  The only article of furniture it contained was the Ark
    of the Covenant.  Upon its blood-stained Mercy seat, the very presence and Shekinah glory of God dwelt.  
    God's redemptive covenant name was invoked upon the Ark (Exodus 25:10-22; Numbers 7:89; II Samuel 6:2).

    In the Ark were the Tables of the covenant, Aaron's rod that budded and the golden pot of manna (Hebrews 9:
    1-4; Exodus 34:27,28; Deuteronomy 4:13; 9:9-15).  In the side of the Ark was the Book of the Covenant
    (Exodus 24:7,8; Deuteronomy 31:24-26).

    The High Priest entered this place only once each year on the great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16; Hebrews

The Outer Court

    This third area, which surrounded the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, was enclosed by a curtain fence.  It
    contained the brazen altar and the brazen laver, the places of ceremonial cleansing by blood and water  
    (Exodus 27:1-19; 30:17-21).  Here the Levitical priesthood performed its daily sacrifices and ceremonial
    cleansings for themselves and the people (Hebrews 10:1-11).

    All that pertained to the sacrifices, priesthood and sanctuary ministrations belonged to that division of the law
    spoken of as the ceremonial law was actually an illustration of the grace of God and a fore-shadowing of the
    person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ under the New Covenant.  The mediatorial work of the High Priest
    and the blood-stained Mercy seat in the sanctuary covering the moral law were both illustrations of grace
    under law.  It was only on that basis that God could dwell with Israel even under this Mosaic Covenant.  At the
    establishing of the New Covenant by the cross of Christ, all that which pertained to the shadow of the
    ceremonial law was fulfilled and abolished.  The spiritual reality in Christ remains (Colossians 2:14-17;
    Hebrews 10).

III.   The SEAL of the Covenant

The sign or seal of the Mosaic Covenant was the weekly Sabbath day.  It is distinctly spoken of as a sign between God and
the nation of Israel (Exodus 31:12-17; Ezekiel 20:10-26; Leviticus 19:30; Nehemiah 9:14; Leviticus 23:3).

The Lord reminded Israel of the fact that He made the heaven and the earth in six days work, and then sanctified the
seventh day as a day of rest.  This seventh day of rest in creation became the pattern for God requiring the Israelites to
work six days and then rest on the seventh day, the holy Sabbath.  The Sabbath was to be observed perpetually
throughout their generations.  Any one who violated the Sabbath would surely be put to death (Exodus 31:16).

The Sabbath in the Old Testament

    There are a number of important facts concerning the seal of the Mosaic Covenant which need to be noted to see
    how it finds its fulfillment in the New Covenant.

    1)  There is no mention of keeping the Sabbath day from Adam to Moses.  That is, under the Adamic, Noahic, and
    Abrahamic Covenants we have no mention of the Sabbath for about 2500 years.

    2)  The first specific mention of keeping Sabbath is found in Exodus 16:23-26 concerning the gathering of the daily
    manna and this was spoken to the nation of Israel.

    3)  The keeping of the Sabbath was the fourth commandment of the Decalogue given to Israel at Mt. Sinai (Exodus
    20:9-11; 31:18).

    4)  It is the fourth commandment of the Decalogue that God took to be the sign and seal of the Mosaic Covenant
    (Exodus 31:12-17; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).  Each of the covenants had their own sign and seal and God did not take
    the sign or seal of other covenants and make such the seal of the Mosaic Covenant.

    5)  Though the ten commandments are spoken of as the Moral Law, the fourth commandment concerning the
    Sabbath was actually a ceremonial law.  It was this "ceremony" that was attached to the Mosaic Covenant as its seal.

    6)  There were other special Sabbaths given to Israel besides the weekly Sabbath.  These Sabbaths were the holy
    days of the Festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, and these Sabbaths fell in their appointed weeks as
    well as the weekly seventh day Sabbath (Leviticus 23:7,8,21,24,27-39).

    7)  Relative to the land of promise, there were Sabbath years also.  Every seventh year, and every fiftieth year were
    Sabbath years of rest for the land.  These Sabbaths of rest for the land pertained to the conditions of the Palestinian
    Covenant (Leviticus 25:1-22).

    The tragic history of the chosen nation shows how they failed to keep the Sabbaths, both for the people and the
    land, thus breaking the sign and seal of the Mosaic and Palestinian Covenants.

    The Scriptures clearly state that the reason for the Babylonian Captivity was the failure of Israel to keep the
    Sabbaths of the Lord.  The Sabbath days and years became burdensome to them and they despised them and thus
    brought Divine judgment upon themselves (II Chronicles 36:21; Ezekiel 20:1-26; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Ezekiel 22:
    8,26; Isaiah 56:2,6,133; Jeremiah 17:21-27).

    B.   The Sabbath in the New Testament

    The New Testament shows clearly how the Jews had misinterpreted and corrupted the Sabbath.  They crucified their
    Messiah, the very one who came to bring to them by the New Covenant, the reality of the Sabbath of the Mosaic
    Covenant (Matthew 12:1-9, 10-14; John 5:1-18; 9:1-14).

    The New Testament also reveals that the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ and that the believer under the
    New Covenant is no longer obligated to keep the Mosaic Covenant Sabbaths.

    Following are a number of important facts from the New Testament concerning the seal of the Sabbath and its
    relationship to the New Covenant seal.

    1)  Jesus clarified the fact that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.  The day was given for
    man's benefit, and man was not given for the benefit of the day.  Man needs physical rest and recuperation, as well
    as time for spiritual refreshment (Mark 2:27,28).

    2)  Jesus presented Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath.  He is higher than the keeping of a day.  The Jews kept the
    letter of the Sabbath, with numerous additions, and missed the spirit of the Sabbath, even crucifying the Lord of the
    Sabbath.  They exalted a day of rest above the only person that could give them true rest (Mark 2:27,28).

    3)  Even in Old Testament times when Israel kept the Sabbaths, God condemned them for their hypocritical
    observances (Isaiah 1:10-17; Lamentations 2:6), and predicted the cessation of their feast days and Sabbaths
    (Hosea 2:11).  Paul taught that the holy days, new moons and Sabbath days were merely a shadow of things to
    come and had been abolished at the Cross (Colossians 2:11,16,17).

    4)  All of the moral commandments of the Mosaic Covenant are repeated and endorsed in the New Testament with
    only one exception, the ceremonial fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath.  This "ceremony" was never
    stated as a requirement for New Testament believers.

    5)  Paul clearly tells us that the Old Covenant was old, decaying and ready to vanish away.  It was a ministration of
    death and was to be done away with (II Corinthians 3:1-18; Hebrews 8:6-13).  The New Covenant has its own
    sign and seal, even the true and spiritual rest, which is the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 28:9-11; Acts
    2:1-4).  To take the Sabbath day and impose its keeping upon Christians today, Jew or Gentile, is to take the sign
    and seal of the Old Covenant and add it to the sign and seal of the New Covenant.  It then becomes a confusion of

    6)  Even as the seals of the other covenants find their fulfillment in the seal of the New Covenant, so the Sabbath
    rest is fulfilled in the New Covenant rest.  The New Testament  clearly shows that the seal of the New Covenant is the
    receiving of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13,14; 4:30). This is true spiritual rest (Isaiah 28:11,12).

    7)  In Christ, the believer finds true Sabbath rest.  He ceases from his own works and rests in the finished work of
    Christ.  It is "in Christ" that there is everlasting rest.  This fulfills "the perpetual covenant" of Sabbath rest.  It is not in
    keeping of a day but in the receiving of a person - Christ Jesus our Lord - that one finds the rest of God (Matthew 11:

The Mosaic Covenant finds its perfect fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He was the only Man who ever perfectly kept the
law in all its requirements.  He fulfilled and abolished in His cross all that which pertained to the ceremonials and the
externals of the law.  That righteousness which is in the law, which is holy, just, good, spiritual, and perfect finds its
fulfillment in Christ Himself reliving His sinless life in the believer "who walks not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Romans
8:1-4).  Christ's new law of love to God and man, written on the tables of the heart, by the Spirit, enable the believer to live
that life that is pleasing to God.


The Covenants, by Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin, Copyright 1983, Bible Temple Publishing.