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    LESSON XVIII

    FEBRUARY 1, 1890. Hebrews 8:8-13

    1. In what does the difference between the old covenant and the new consist? Hebrews 8:6.SSW 15.1

    2. What were the promises of the old covenant?SSW 15.2

    3. What are those of the new?SSW 15.3

    4. Was there any promise of pardon in the old covenant? See Exodus 19:3-8; 24:3-8. These scriptures contain the complete record of the making of the old covenant, but they contain no hint of pardon, or of any help through Christ.SSW 15.4

    5. Then how did people under the old covenant find salvation? Hebrews 9:14, 15.SSW 15.5

    6. Was there actual forgiveness for the people at the very time they sinned? or was forgiveness deferred until the death of Christ? Psalm 32:5; 78:38. Enoch and Elijah were taken to Heaven, which shows that they had received the same fullness of blessing that those will receive who live until the Lord comes.SSW 15.6

    7. Since there was present and complete salvation for men who lived under the old covenant, and forgiveness of the transgressions that were under the first covenant came only through the second, what must we conclude? Ans.—That the second covenant really existed at the same time as, and even before, the first covenant.SSW 16.1

    8. Tell again what is included in the blessings of the second covenant?SSW 16.2

    9. What will be received by those whose transgressions are forgiven through the new covenant? Hebrews 9:15, last clause.SSW 16.3

    10. Whose children are all they who are heirs of the eternal inheritance? Galatians 3:29.SSW 16.4

    11. Of how many is Abraham the father? Romans 4:11, 12.SSW 16.5

    12. Did Abraham have righteousness? Genesis 26:5.SSW 16.6

    13. How did he obtain this righteousness? Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6.SSW 16.7

    14. Through whom did Abraham receive this righteousness? Galatians 3:14, first part.SSW 16.8

    15. Then could the covenant with Abraham have lacked anything? Ans.—No; having Christ, it had all that can be desired—“all things that pertain to life and godliness.”SSW 16.9

    16. Since all the blessings which people receive through the new covenant, they receive as children of Abraham, can there be any difference between the second covenant and the covenant with Abraham?SSW 16.10

    17. How long before the old covenant was the covenant with Abraham made? Galatians 3:17.SSW 16.11

    18. Then why was that “first” covenant made? See notes.SSW 17.1

    NOTES

    The question has often been asked, How could any be saved under the old covenant, if there was no pardon in that covenant? That there was no pardon in that covenant is readily seen: 1. There is no hint of pardon in the covenant itself, as recorded in Exodus 19:5-8, or in the reiteration and ratification of it in chap. 24:3-8. 2. In the sanctuary service there was no blood offered that could take away sin. Hebrews 10:4. There was therefore no chance for pardon in that covenant. But to say they were under that covenant settles nothing as to what was in the covenant. All were under that covenant who lived while it endured. But that was not all. They were “beloved for the Father’s sake.” As children of Abraham, they were also under the Abrahamic covenant, of which their circumcision was the token. John 7:22; Genesis 17:9-14. This was a covenant of faith, already confirmed by the word and oath of the Lord, in Christ, the Seed, and it was not disannulled by any future arrangement. Galatians 3:15-17. All who were of faith were blessed with faithful Abraham. Verses 6-9. Overlooking this plain fact, which indeed lies at the very foundation of gospel faith in the new covenant, which is but the development of the Abrahamic, some have ascribed salvation to the covenant at Horeb. But, according to both Scripture and reason, if salvation had been possible in that covenant, there was no need of the second. Hebrews 7:11; 10:1, etc.SSW 17.2

    Though much dissatisfaction is expressed by commentators with the received rendering of Hebrews 9:1, their suggestions do not make it very greatly different. The first covenant is said to have had ordinances of divine service and a sanctuary for this world. But these were superadditions, not at all necessary to the covenant, but quite necessary as types of the sacrifice and priesthood of the new covenant. They all recognized the existence of sin; but no sin was taken away by them. Hebrews 10:3, 4. As a sanctuary of this world, and offerings that could not take away sin, were connected to that covenant, these things themselves were but recognitions of the fact that there was no pardon in that covenant. By those things the people expressed faith in the mediation of the new covenant. If any pardon had been contained in that covenant, we must conclude that some means would have been devised to make that fact manifest. But there was not.SSW 17.3

    The word sanctuary means a holy place, or the dwelling-place of God. Indeed, the same word is often used in the Hebrew for sanctuary and holiness. All can see that it is derived from a verb which signifies to sanctify or make holy. The sanctuary being a holy dwelling, and being divided into two rooms each of course was a holy place. And each is called the holy. See Leviticus 16:2. Here the word “holy” is used, and we learn only by the description—within the veil before the mercy-seat, which is upon the ark—that the inner holy is meant. Inasmuch as in the second was placed the ark, containing the tables of stone on which were the commandments—the most sacred things committed to them,—it was called the most holy, or, properly, according to the Hebrew, the holy of the holies.SSW 18.1

    What was in the ark? Few subjects have occasioned more perplexity than this description of what was in the ark. The apostle specifies, as being in the holy place, only the candlestick and the table upon which was the bread; whereas it is certain that the golden altar of incense was also therein. Moses had direction to put the two tables of testimony in the ark. Exodus 26:16, 21. This order he obeyed. Exodus 40:29; Deuteronomy 10:5. But we do not read of his putting anything else in the ark, or of his being ordered to do so. In 1 Kings 8:9 it is distinctly said that “there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel.” This was spoken of the time when the vessels of the sanctuary were brought into their appropriate places in the temple built by Solomon. Dr. Clarke says:—SSW 18.2

    “As Calmet remarks, in the temple which was afterwards built, there were many things added which were not in the tabernacle, and several things left out. The ark of the covenant and the two tables of the law were never found after the return from the Babylonish captivity. We have no proof that, even in the time of Solomon, the golden pot of manna, or the rod of Aaron, was either in or near the ark.... We need not trouble ourselves to reconcile the various scriptures which mention these subjects, some of which refer to the tabernacle, others to Solomon’s temple, and others to the temple built by Zorobabel, which places were very different from each other.”SSW 19.1

    That changes took place is evident. If Paul wrote of the tabernacle in the days of Moses, then the rod of Aaron and the pot of manna had been removed from the ark before the time of Solomon, which some suggest might have occurred while the ark was in the hands of the Philistines. Or, otherwise, Paul was speaking of things as they existed some time after Solomon, of which we have no account in the Scriptures. Which is the case is not at all material.SSW 19.2

    None should allow themselves to be confused by the terms first covenant and second covenant. While the covenant made at Sinai was called “the first covenant,” it is by no means the first covenant that God ever made with man. Long before that he made a covenant with Abraham, and he also made a covenant with Noah, and with Adam. Neither must it be supposed that the first or old covenant existed for a period of time as the only covenant with the people before the promise of the second or new covenant could be shared. If that had been the case, then during that time there would have been no pardon for the people. What is called the “second covenant” virtually existed before the covenant was made at Sinai; for the covenant with Abraham was confirmed in Christ (Galatians 3:17); and it is only through Christ that there is any value to what is known as the second covenant. There is no blessing that can be gained by virtue of the second covenant that was not promised to Abraham. And we, with whom the second covenant is made, can share the inheritance which it promises only by being children of Abraham. To be Christ’s is the same as to be children of Abraham (Galatians 3:29); all who are of faith are the children of Abraham and share in his blessing (verses 7-9); and since no one can have anything except as children of Abraham, it follows that there is nothing in what is called the second covenant that was not in the covenant made with Abraham. The second covenant existed in every feature long before the first, even from the days of Adam. It is called “second” because both its ratification by blood and its more minute statement were after that of the covenant made at Sinai. More than this, it was the second covenant made with the Jewish people. The one from Sinai was the first made with that nation.SSW 20.1

    When it is demonstrated that the first covenant-the Sinaitic covenant-contained no provisions for pardon of sins, some will at once say, “But they did have pardon under that covenant.” The trouble arises from a confusion of terms. It is not denied that under the old covenant, i.e., during the time when it was specially in force, there was pardon of sins, but that pardon was not offered in the old covenant, and could not be secured by virtue of it. The pardon was secured by virtue of something else, as shown by Hebrews 9:15. Not only was there the opportunity of finding free pardon of sins, and grace to help in time of need, during the time of the old covenant, but the same opportunity existed before that covenant was made, by virtue of God’s covenant with Abraham, which differs in no respect from that made with Adam and Eve, except that we have the particulars given more in detail. We see, then, that there was no necessity for provisions to be made in the Sinaitic covenant for forgiveness of sins. The plan of salvation was developed long before the gospel was preached to Abraham (Galatians 3:8), and was amply sufficient to save to the uttermost all who would accept it. The covenant at Sinai, was made for the purpose of making the people see the necessity of accepting the gospel.SSW 21.1

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