Summarizing the 5 Books of Old Covenant Law
I must say something again, and hopefully cement it into your mind. The Old Testament is very, very important. It is God’s word, even though we don’t understand the meanings behind everything in it. But every word has meaning and purpose. We can learn from all of it, especially from some of the history with God’s dealing with Israel, and in the character studies of so many people we read about — both good points and bad points. But we must also fully understand that we have a NEW Covenant today.
One beautiful thing Paul does, especially in Hebrews, is to compare the benefits of the New Covenant as opposed to the Old. The last two verses in Hebrews 11 sum it up well: as good as all these Old Testament people did, they did not receive the promise, and God has prepared a BETTER covenant for us.
For this reason, we must read the Old Testament in light and understanding of the New Testament.
The Old reflects God’s prophetic work, and the New reveals Christ’s finished work.
Jesus says we must understand ‘the word of the Kingdom’ (Matt 13:19). In other places he defines this as gospel truth and reality (e.g., Matt 24:14). If we don’t understand it, then Satan has inroads into us that we never even know about, and we must repent of not knowing God’s gospel Kingdom truth, or he holds us captive (II Tim 2:25-26, II Cor 4:4).
THE FIRST FIVE BOOKS ARE CUMULATIVE
As you can see, these books are cumulative. They grow on each other, and each takes us to a little higher place with God. The Book of Deuteronomy is perhaps the climax, and it even repeats some things in the other four books. Think about it: our lives today are a duplicate of the days of Deuteronomy. This book prepares people to live in the Promised Land, while the gospel prepares us to live in God’s Kingdom on earth, and for eternity.
Deuteronomy says not to add to, or detract from God’s covenants. Both say we must live by the covenant we have been given. If we believe and live by covenant truth, we will live in prosperity and health (III John 2-3). If we don’t, we won’t.
God’s ways have not changed between the Old and New Covenants. The only change is Old Testament people had to adhere to the LAW, we must adhere to the GOSPEL. Today, every word of God’s New Covenant gospel is like daily manna in the Old (I Pet 2:2-4). But it seems so many Christians are too busy with living to experience abundant life. In the first five books, God pleas with us to live by his word and his ways. He has the same plea in the gospel: “Believe and live by my gospel! It will bless you and benefit you totally!”
In Deuteronomy, God wanted people to tread out their lives in the Promised Land walking with him. This is his same plea in the gospel, — to sit, walk and stand with him in his ways. Thus I call this ‘The Gospel Road.’ Deuteronomy and Leviticus talk of many curses that will come on the people for not obeying God’s Old Covenant law.
Paul says in Galatians that Jesus took all the curses on himself — apparently except for ONE. If we don’t live by the gospel, but now continue to live by the law or any other standard of living other than the gospel, then we are still under a cursed today (Gal 3:7-12).
God is serious about us living his New Covenant gospel. He’s very serious.
Like Deuteronomy told Old Testament people, God tells us today we are not free to believe and live anything we want to. He does not give us a choice as to what we believe, as much as we modern westerners like choices in everything. Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and to believe and live his gospel — by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). This does not mean every word from Genesis on. It means the New Covenant.
When we do so, then we live in God’s Kingdom ways, we are righteous in Jesus, we have peace with God and others, and we are filled with the joy of knowing we are specially chosen by God. Even when bad times impact us and we are sorrowful, we still have joy.
JESUS’ GOSPEL FORETOLD IN DEUTERONOMY
As I already quoted Deuteronomy 18:15-19, that says God will send his Prophet (Jesus) and he will deliver his message (the gospel). Again, the gospel was the first thing Jesus spoke about — the first words out of his mouth — the most important thing to him.
It’s sad that God says he knew his people would not live by his covenant (Deut 31:29). Paul says the same thing in Romans 10:16. The Old Testament demanded things from us, but if it’s demanded, most people will not live by it. This began with Adam and Eve in the Garden. They only had ONE rule to live by. It seems people want to define life according to their terms, not God’s. They don’t want to be told what to believe, even by God.
NO one could live by all the mandates of the Old Covenant (Acts 15:10). But God says the New Covenant is not burdensome, but rather a blessing and empowerment to us. But most people just have a natural human inclination to live in SELF, even if what God prescribes is of total blessing, benefit and empowerment to them. In closing, really consider the blessing of the gospel. It’s like the original 10 commandments, but in a blessing form:
Now ask this: how much of burden, demand or command does this place on you? The fact is it doesn’t place ANY imposition on you. All it does is GIVE to you. It empowers you with the ability of God. This is what the gospel is. The gospel doesn’t require any WORK on our part. It merely requires our BELIEF, but sadly many think the gospel is just too good to be true. Thus they label it as ‘unbelievable.’ To do so cancels its impact on us.
My family and I own and operate THE RED WEDDING BARN (and event center) in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Evergreen, Colorado USA: