More Covenant Rest
MORE ABOUT THE COVENANT REST
A. Introduction: One of the things God offers His people is rest = a life of dependence on and trust in Him for everything. Matt 11:28
1. To enter the rest of God we must believe God's word and cease from our own works. Heb 4:3;10
a. You don't work to earn or deserve God's help or provision.
b. You simply believe His promise of help and provision and He brings them to pass.
c. The result of this is total peace (you knew God will come through) and provision (He does come through).
2. The rest of God is a life of faith, trust, dependence on God which gives peace. 3. God has gone to great lengths to inspire in us the faith, trust, and confidence that brings us to this life of rest and peace.
a. He has given us the Bible which shows us what He is like and what He has done, is doing, and will do for us.
b. One of the things God has shown us about Himself which -- if we understand it -- will help us enter His rest and live a life of peace -- is that He is a covenant maker and a covenant keeper.
4. A covenant is a solemn agreement between two parties through which they bind themselves to each other for mutual purposes.
a. God has chosen to bind Himself to man through various covenants which He has initiated and established.
b. Since man has nothing to given God which He needs, a covenant between God and man is in reality a contract or promise from God to do good for those who have nothing to offer.
c. But, by entering into covenants with man, God demonstrates His love and His faithfulness -- and inspires our confidence so we can rest in Him.
d. The Bible itself is divided into two great covenants between God and man -- the Old Covenant (testament) and the New Covenant (testament).
5. The Old Covenant was revealed and established by God through Abraham.
a. In that covenant, God promised Abraham material and spiritual prosperity, a son, a nation from his descendants, blessings to all nations through him, a land for his descendants. Gen 12:1-3; 15:5-7; 17:7,8
1. God fulfilled all He promised to Abraham.
2. God renewed the covenant with Abraham's son, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob. Gen 17:19; 26:1-5; 28:13-15
b. Jacob and his sons went into Egypt in a time of famine.
1. In Egypt, they grew from 70 to over 600,000 men. Gen 46:27; Ex 12:37 2. In Egypt Abraham's descendants fell into bondage, but God supernaturally delivered them through Moses.
6. God renewed the covenant with Israel -- Abraham's descendants. Ex 24:3-8
a. As we study, we find that under the terms of the covenant, God blessed Israel with: physical protection from enemies, pestilence, disease; He gave them food, clothing, shelter, shade, warmth, direction; He caused their crops, flocks, and herds to multiply.
b. In addition, He gave them instructions for a system of blood sacrifices which would cover their sins, and the building of a tabernacle so He could dwell with them despite their sins. Ex 29:42-46; Lev 26:9-13
B. As wonderful as the Old Covenant was, it was not meant to be the final, ultimate relationship between God and man.
1. OT prophets spoke at various times in Israel's history of the coming of a New Covenant. Jer 31:33,34; 32:38-40; Ezek 11:19,20; 36:26,27
2. One of the things Jesus did through His death, burial, and resurrection was establish a New Covenant. Matt 26:26-28
a. Heb 8:6 tells us that this New Covenant is a better covenant established on better promises. What is better about the New Covenant?
b. Better includes all the blessings, benefits of the Old Covenant plus more.
c. Israel had the promise of material provision, physical and mental health, direction and guidance, protection from enemies -- we have all of that.
d. If our covenant lacks any of those things, it isn't better, it is different.
3. Heb 8:7-9 states that the Old Covenant lacked some things.
4. Heb 8:10-12 then states the fourfold better blessings of the New Covenant.
a. v12--Remission of sins. This last blessing makes the first three possible.
1. In the Old Covenant, sins were covered by the blood of animals.
2. In the New Covenant, sins are blotted out, removed (remitted) by the Blood of Christ.
b. v10--A new heart. Because our sins are gone, God can give us a new heart, one that desires to do His will.
c. v10--Binding to each other. Because we have right relationship with God, He is now ours and we are now His. All He has or is as God is ours.
1. He will be with us, ever present, and work in us by His mighty power. 2. We will be His obedient, holy people -- saved, blessed, ruled, guided, and provided for by God Almighty.
d. v11--All can know God in an individual, intimate way.
1. We are one with God as Jesus and the Father are one. We have union with Christ as a branch to a Vine.
2. The Teacher, the Holy Ghost, will teach each one of us from God's word, plant His word in our hearts, and renew our minds.
5. The New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant in these ways:
a. In the Old Covenant, their sins were covered; in the New Covenant, they are removed.
b. The Old Covenant dealt with the outer man; the New Covenant deals with the inner man.
c. Under the Old Covenant, God dwelt with them; under the New Covenant, God dwells in us.
d. Under the Old Covenant, they were God's servants; under the New Covenant, we are God's sons and daughters.
C. Let's look at each of these points in a little more detail.
1. The Blood of Christ has dealt with our sins once and for all.
a. Under the Old Covenant, atonement was made for sins. Atone = to cover. b. Through Jesus's sacrifice, we have remission (removal) of sins. Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Luke 24:46,47
c. There is no more memory of sin: on God's part (Heb 8:12; 10:17; Ps 103:12; Isa 43:25;44:22); on our part (Heb 9:14).
d. Heb 10:1,2--The Old System of Jewish laws gave only a dim foretaste of the good things Christ would do for us. The sacrifices under the Old System were repeated again, year after year, but even so they could never save those who lived under their rules. If they could have, one offering would have been enough; the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and their feelings of guilt would be gone. (Living)
2. Once we are cleansed from sin, God fills us with His life (ZOE; new birth).
a. We are joined to Jesus as a branch to a Vine. John 15:5; 5:26; I John 5:11,12; II Pet 1:4; Col 1:27
b. Jesus Christ now becomes our holiness, our righteousness. I Cor 1:30
c. Through His sacrifice, Jesus has sanctified us and perfected (to complete; accomplish) us. Heb 10:10;14
1. For by a single offering He has completed His work for all time in those whom He sanctified. (Knox)
2. For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy. (Amp)
3. God now dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, and He, through the new life He brings, empowers us to live for God. John 14:17; I Cor 6:19; Phil 2:13; Phil 4:13
a. One of the weaknesses of the Old Covenant was that the human side was dependent on flesh to fulfill it. Rom 8:3; Heb 7:18,19
b. Under the Old Covenant, God said: you do your part and I'll do my part.
c. Under the New Covenant, God says: I'll do my part and I'll do your part.
d. Heb 8:10--But this is the new agreement I will make with the people of Israel, says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without my even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. (Living)
4. Now we are sons of God. Eph 1:4,5; John 1:12; I John 3:2
a. Israel as a whole was called God's son. But, as individuals, they were children of Abraham. Ex 4:22,23; Deut 1:31; John 8:39
b. Not only are we sons of God, we are being conformed to the image of Christ. Rom 8:29
D. What does all of this show us about God and the rest He offers us in Christ?
1. First, we have to remember the overall point of why God made us: God's goal has always been relationship -- to have a family of sons and daughters with whom He could have relationship -- and He has gone to great lengths to accomplish it. Sin marred the plan, making relationship impossible.
a. But God has been working since before the first sin to build a family, once and for all remove their sins, and make them sons and daughters like Jesus. Rev 13:8; Gen 3:15;21; 4:4
b. God has been working progressively toward a deeper and deeper relationship with man.
1. God walked, talked with Adam in the garden. Gen 2,3
2. Enoch walked with God. Gen 5:22
3. Abraham was called the friend of God. Isa 41:8; James 2:23; Gen 18 4. God spoke with Moses as a man does a friend. Ex 33:11
5. Israel as a whole was called God's firstborn son and He cared for them as a Father. Ex 4:22,23; Deut 1:31
6. He has put His Spirit in us making us sons and daughters. I John 3:2
d. Ultimately, God will come to live with us. Rev 21:1-7
2. From the beginning of time, God has bound Himself to men through covenants for their good which He has faithfully upheld: Noah--Gen 9:11-16; Abraham --Gen 12:1-3; 17:1-8; David--II Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:3,4
3. God has "bent over backwards" to show us He will do what He says to inspire us to trust Him, believe Him, depend on Him.
a. The very fact that He has bound Himself to men through covenants magnifies the certainty of His faithfulness and reliability -- He wants to be held accountable.
b. When God made covenant with Abraham, He gave him His promise and His oath to clearly show His faithfulness. Heb 6:13-18; Gen 12:2; 15:5; Gen 22:16,17
c. In the New Covenant, Jesus is the guarantee: Heb 7:22--Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement -- a more excellent and more advantageous covenant. (Amp)
4. God wants relationship with us, has established relationship with us in and through Jesus Christ, and we can rest in that relationship.
a. We stand before God in Christ, holy and blameless; all guilt of sin is gone. Col 1:22; Rom 8:1; 5:2
b. God is now our Father -- better than the best earthly father. Matt 7:7-11
c. God has already provided us with everything we need to live, through Christ. II Pet 1:3: II Cor 1:20; Rom 8:32
E. Conclusion: We have not said all there is to say about covenants and rest, but remember these things:
1. We have a better covenant based on better promises.
a. We have everything the OT saints had. They had complete physical provision and God Himself as their Guarantee -- so do we.
b. But, we have more!! We have complete spiritual provision!!
2. Heb 9:15(a)--Christ came with this new agreement so that all who are invited may come and have forever all the wonders God has promised them... (Living)
a. Heb 9:15(b)--For Christ died to rescue them from the penalty of the sins they had committed while still under that old system. (Living)
b. Heb 9:26(b)--But no! He came once for all, at the end of the age, to put away the power of sin forever by dying for us. (Living)
c. Heb 10:10--Under this new plan we have been forgiven and made clean by Christ's dying for us once for all. (Living)
d. Heb 10:14--For by that one offering He made forever perfect in the sight of God all those whom He is making holy. (Living)
3. We are now holy, blameless sons of God whom God is making like Jesus. And, we can rest in that!!