1. THE OLD COVENANT
a. When the Ten Commandments were proclaimed at Mount Sinai, what promise did the people of Israel make? Exodus 19:8; 24:7.
“The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ Exodus 24:7.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 371, 372.
b. What were the terms of the Covenant established at Sinai? Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 27:26.
c. Where did God write the Ten Commandments, and why couldn’t the people fulfill their pledge? Exodus 31:18; Romans 10:3; 9:30–32.
“[Priests and rulers] thought their own righteousness all-sufficient, and did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 15.
2. THE MINISTRY OF DEATH
a. Why does Paul call the Ten Commandments the “ministration of death”? 2 Corinthians 3:7.
“The glory upon the face of Moses was exceedingly painful to the children of Israel because of their transgression of God’s holy law. This is an illustration of the feelings of those who violate the law of God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 232.
“[Moses] saw that only through Christ can man keep the moral law. By transgression of this law man brought sin into the world, and with sin came death. . . .
“It was seeing the object of that which was to be done away, seeing Christ as revealed in the law, that illumined the face of Moses. The ministration of the law, written and engraved in stone, was a ministration of death. Without Christ, the transgressor was left under its curse, with no hope of pardon. The ministration had of itself no glory, but the promised Saviour, revealed in the types and shadows of the ceremonial law, made the moral law glorious.”—Ibid., p. 237.
“[The Israelites] desired Moses to be their mediator. They did not understand that Christ was their appointed mediator, and that, deprived of His mediation, they would certainly have been consumed.”—Ibid., p. 238.
b. What is the real condition of all humanity? Romans 3:23; 6:23 (first part).
“The Word of God declares, ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). ‘There is none that doeth good, no, not one’ (Romans 3:12). Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness, and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God.
“We may measure ourselves by ourselves, we may compare ourselves among ourselves, we may say we do as well as this one or that one, but the question to which the judgment will call for an answer is, Do we meet the claims of high heaven? Do we reach the divine standard? Are our hearts in harmony with the God of heaven?”—Ibid., pp. 320, 321.
3. THE TERMS AND BLESSINGS OF THE NEW COVENANT
a. What are the terms of the New Covenant? Hebrews 8:10–12.
“The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.
“This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, ‘I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.’ Genesis 17:1. The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, ‘Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ Genesis 26:5. . . .
“Though this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, it could not be ratified until the death of Christ. It had existed by the promise of God since the first intimation of redemption had been given; it had been accepted by faith; yet when ratified by Christ, it is called a new covenant. The law of God was the basis of this covenant, which was simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 370, 371.
“The ‘new covenant’ was established upon ‘better promises’—the promise of forgiveness of sins, and of the grace of God to renew the heart, and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law.”— The Faith I Live By, p. 78.
b. According to this covenant of grace, who are God’s people? Hebrews 8:10; Isaiah 51:7.
“Through the grace of Christ they may be enabled to render obedience to the Father’s law. Thus in every age, from the midst of apostasy and rebellion, God gathers out a people that are true to Him—a people ‘in whose heart is His law.’ Isaiah 51:7.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 338.
4. THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW COVENANT
a. How does Paul describe the ministry of the covenant of grace? 2 Corinthians 3:4–6; Colossians 1:25–29.
“What a sacred trust God has committed to us, in making us His servants to aid in the work of saving souls! He has intrusted to us great truths, a most solemn, testing message for the world. Our duty is not simply to preach, but to minister, to come close to hearts. We should use our intrusted talents with skill and wisdom, that we may present the precious light of truth in the most pleasing manner, the way best adapted to win souls. . . .
“What a responsibility is this! A work is here brought to view that is more laborious than merely preaching the word; it is to represent Christ in our character, to be living epistles, known and read of all men.
“It is the Lord who has called us to this work, and we should have an eye single to His glory. We cannot trust to our own efforts, as though we could do the work of converting souls. God alone can convict and convert. Jesus invites sinners to come to Him with all their burdens, and He will give them rest and peace.”—Gospel Workers (1892), pp. 422, 423.
b. What did Peter say regarding this ministry? 1 Peter 5:1–5.
“The great Shepherd has under-shepherds, to whom He delegates the care of His sheep and lambs. The first work that Christ entrusted to Peter, on restoring him to the ministry, was to feed the lambs. [See John 21:15.] This was a work in which Peter had had little experience. It would require great care and tenderness, much patience and perseverance. It called him to minister to the children and youth, and to those young in the faith, to teach the ignorant, to open the Scriptures to them, and to educate them for usefulness in Christ’s service. Heretofore Peter had not been fitted to do this, or even to understand its importance.
“The question that Christ put to Peter was significant. He mentioned only one condition of discipleship and service. ‘Lovest thou Me?’ He said. This is the essential qualification. Though Peter might possess every other, without the love of Christ he could not be a faithful shepherd over the Lord’s flock. Knowledge, benevolence, eloquence, gratitude, and zeal are all aids in the good work; but without the love of Jesus in the heart, the work of the Christian minister will prove a failure.”—Gospel Workers, pp. 182, 183.
5. THE VEIL
a. Why did Moses need to put a veil on his face before addressing the people, and how is this significant? Exodus 34:29–35; 2 Corinthians 3:12, 13.
“Moses himself was unconscious of the beaming glory reflected upon his face, and knew not why the children of Israel fled from him when he approached them. He called them to him, but they dared not look upon that glorified face. When Moses learned that the people could not look upon his face, because of its glory, he covered it with a veil. . . .
“Those who cherish the view that there was no Saviour in the old dispensation, have as dark a veil over their understanding as did the Jews who rejected Christ. . . . The Christian church, on the other hand, who profess the utmost faith in Christ, in despising the Jewish system virtually deny Christ, who was the originator of the entire Jewish economy.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 232.
b. How can this veil be removed from our own eyes? 2 Corinthians 3:14–16.
“The glory that shone on the face of Moses was a reflection of the righteousness of Christ in the law. The law itself would have no glory, only that in it Christ is embodied. It has no power to save. It is lusterless only as in it Christ is represented as full of righteousness and truth. . . .
“To Moses was unfolded the significance of the types and shadows pointing to Christ. He saw to the end of that which was to be done away when, at the death of Christ, type met antitype. He saw that only through Christ can man keep the moral law.”—Ibid., p. 237.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How is Israel’s problem with God’s moral law often repeated today?
2. Why is it so foolish to compare ourselves among ourselves?
3. Explain the power behind the New Covenant.
4. Describe the biblical attitude of the New Covenant ministry.
5. What brings glory to God’s moral law?