Have you ever wondered why the Bible is split into the Old Testament and New Testament? The Bible has two major sections that are based on God’s dealing with men and women.
Testament is the same word as covenant. We don’t use this term or think in these ideas. But if you were a Jew, the idea of a covenant would be very important, especially God’s covenants. A covenant is an agreement between two people based on promises made to each other. Normally, a covenant that was made would require the sacrifice of an animal, to demonstrate that the covenant could not be broken unless one of the parties died. Often, the two people making the covenant would even cut themselves on the forearm and lock wrists indicating the mixing of the goodwill of the two people.
God made a number of covenants in the Old Testament. God made covenants with Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and many others. All of these covenants gave priveleges to God’s special people, as long as they obeyed and served Him. These covenants that God made with the Hebrew people all had one basic idea, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” God promised to bless the people as long as they kept the law and followed Him. In fact, the entire Old Testament is the story of the Hebrews failure to live up to the expectations of the covenants that God had made with them. Sometimes there were individuals who lived by faith in God and were blessed. There were even times when the entire nation would turn to God and experience His provision. Yet, even the great heroes of the faith had failures under God’s covenant. But for the most part, the Hebrew people turned their own way and failed to experience the wonderful blessings God had in store as a result of His covenant with them.
But along came a man who perfectly fulfilled God’s expectations from the Old Covenant. Jesus perfectly kept God’s laws and experienced the perfect blessing of His Father. He lived under the promises of the Old Covenant. As a result, God has initiated a New Covenant, given to those who follow His Son. This covenant is much better than the first, because it is based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). The Old Covenant was based on the law, but the New Covenant is based on grace and truth (John 1:17). In the Old Covenant, God promised to be with His people, but in the New Covenant God promises to be in His people. The Old Covenant was based on yearly sacrifices, where the New Covenant is based on the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross giving us total forgiveness of sin. The Old Covenant is found on laws written on tablets of stone, but the New Covenant is found on God’s law written on the hearts of His followers. The Old Covenant provided religious access to God through the priest, but the New Covenant provides a relationship with God through His Son.
As you read the Bible, you should read both the Old and New Testament. But always remember, that every page of Scripture points us to Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, the Old Testament is incomplete, because forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God can never be obtained through the law. All the Old Covenant could do is demonstrate how man always failed to keep it. But in Jesus Christ, we have a Savior who has done everything. As a Christian, you live under the New Covenant, made by God to you, through Jesus. Hallelujah!