God’s first covenant with His people was faulty and had to be replaced by a new covenant. The questions to be answered today are: What was the fault of the first covenant and how was the fault corrected?
Chapter eight verses eight through thirteen: Verse 7 told us that the first covenant had a fault. The key to identifying that fault lies in the first word of verse 8–“For”–meaning “because.” The fault, we learn immediately, was with “them.” Note that the covenant was a single entity, whereas “them” indicates plural entities. By reading further we learn that “them” referred to the 12 tribes of Israel, then separated and called the House of Israel (northern tribes) and the House of Judah (southern tribes called “Jews”) respectively. These are the people with whom God had made the first covenant. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God would later make a new (2nd) covenant with the “House of Israel.” By using the singular designation he was telling us that at some point in time the two “houses” would be reunited into one “house” called “Israel.” This would begin during the time of the apostles who were involved in the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). Now let us continue in the Word to further identify those who were at “fault.”
In verse 9 we are told that “them” referred to the ancient children of Israel whom God had led out of Egyptian bondage and with whom He had made the first covenant. And why would He have to make a second covenant with their descendants? Because the original Israelites had not lived up to their part of the covenant. The people constituted the “fault” in the Old Covenant.
Verse 10 explains the difference between the first (old) covenant–“Laws” (commandments) God made with the freed Israelites and the second (new) covenant–“Laws”– (commandments) He later made with their descendants. The Old Covenant was written in stone. The New Covenant was written in the hearts/minds of the people. The Old Covenant was distant to them being inside the Ark of the Covenant. The New Covenant was part of their very being. The people did not have direct access to the stone-etched Law and could relate to it only from a distance and only once per year. Their descendants would have direct and continuous access to the Law as it would be located within them. Note two other differences in the respective covenants: Old Covenant–sins were inevitable and were forgiven one time each year when the people brought animals to sacrifice whose blood covered their sins. The Lord was distant from them and not readily available. The people needed priests to intervene between themselves and God. New Covenant–sins would be forgiven/erased once for all and power would be supplied (by the Holy Spirit) that would enable people to overcome Satan’s temptations (Rev. 3:21). The people would “know” God intimately and personally. “The man Jesus Christ” would be their intermediary (1 Tim. 2:5).
Note that the elements (commandments–“Laws”–vs 10) of the Old Covenant did not change with the establishment of the New Covenant. Not one jot or tittle changed in the transition. The change in the covenant came in the form of a new type of people, saints who would obey the stone-etched Law that would be written in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Let us be Biblically clear: THE FAULT WAS FOUND IN THE PEOPLE, NOT THE COVENANT. L.J.