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    January 6, 1890

    “Letter to the Hebrews. Chapter 8:8-13” The Signs of the Times, 16, 1.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Lesson 16, January 15, 1890.)

    1. What was the old covenant that was made with Israel? Exodus 19:5-8; 24:3-8.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.1

    2. How does the second covenant compare with the first? Hebrews 8:6.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.2

    3. What was the necessity for the second covenant? Verse 7.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.3

    4. Since the second covenant is better than the first, in that it is founded upon better promises, wherein must the first have been faulty? Ans.-In the promises.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.4

    5. What were the promises of the first covenant? Exodus 19:8; 24:3, 7.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.5

    6. What was God’s covenant which the people promised to perform?SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.6

    7. What is said of the nature of those commandments? Psalm 19:7; 119:172.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.7

    8. What of those who do them? Psalm 119:1-3; Ecclesiastes 12:13.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.8

    9. Then could the children of Israel have promised anything better than to keep God’s commandments?SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.9

    10. Wherein, then, was the fault? Hebrews 8:8, first part.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.10

    11. What did the people really promise to do? Exodus 19:5, 6, 8. See note.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.11

    12. What cannot the law do? Romans 3:20.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.12

    13. What renders the law thus powerless? Romans 8:3.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.13

    14. What is all human righteousness? Isaiah 64:6.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.14

    15. What is the only true righteousness? Philippians 3:9.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.15

    16. In the terms of the first covenant do we find any mention of faith, or of divine assistance?SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.16


    Let the student note that the promises in the old covenant were really all on the part of the people. God said, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant [the ten commandments], then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.... and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” God did not say that he would make them such, but that they would be such a people if they obeyed his commandments. It could not be otherwise. The keeping of God’s holy law would constitute them a holy people; and as such they would indeed be a peculiar treasure, even as are all who are zealous of good works. All that was set before them was simply what would result from obedience to the law, and that covenant contained no promises of help in doing that. Therefore the first covenant was a promise on the part of the people that they would make themselves holy. But this they could not do. The promise was a good one; with it alone there could be no fault; the fault lay with the people. The promise was faulty, through the weakness of the people who made it; just as we read in Romans 8:3 that the law was weak through the flesh.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.17

    The first thought in the minds of many, on learning that in the first covenant the people made a promise which they could not possibly fulfill, is that God was unjust to require such a promise. And since they know that God is not unjust, they conclude that the first covenant must have contained pardon and promise of divine assistance, although it contained no hint of it. If the student will wait until the subject of the covenants is concluded, he will see the justice and the mercy of God’s plan. But right here let us fasten these two thoughts: First, if the first covenant had contained pardon, and promise of divine assistance, there would have been no necessity of any other covenant. Pardon and divine aid are all that any soul can get, and if the first covenant had had these, it would not have been faulty. But, second, let it not be forgotten that the fact that there was no pardon, and no Holy Spirit’s aid, in that covenant does not imply that there was no salvation for the people who lived under it. There was ample provision for them, but not in the first covenant. What the provision was, and why the first covenant was given, will be learned later.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.18


    The preliminary steps of the old covenant are recorded in Exodus 19:5-8. We have (1) the words of the Lord to the people setting forth the conditions on which the people would be his peculiar treasure above all other nations; (2) the conditions, obedience to God’s voice, or covenant; and (3) the promise of the people that they would do this. The Lord then utters his voice in the “ten words,” and the covenant is afterward ratified, as recorded in Exodus 24:3-8.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.19

    God’s covenant which he commanded the people to perform is expressly stated to be the ten commandments. Deuteronomy 4:12, 16. They are spoken of as “covenant” because they are the basis of every covenant which God ever made with man or concerning man. They are God’s will, the reflect of his character. They were not, however, the covenant made at Horeb, for that was made concerning the ten commandments, or God’s voice. Israel promised to obey God’s voice before that voice was heard, and when it spoke it uttered the ten commandments and no more. Deuteronomy 5:22.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.20

    The old covenant was broken when Israel disobeyed God. They then forfeited their blessings and privileges, and the covenant became null and void. But their disobedience did not affect the holy law of God. The transgression of a law could not change it; and the proof that Israel transgressed God’s law and thereby forfeited, or lost, their covenant blessings, proves the binding obligation of the law. If the transgression of a law would abolish it, no government would stand, and all authority and rule would be at an end; for it is true that from time immemorial men have transgressed law, and will transgress as long as the heart of man remains unregenerate.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.21

    The covenant made at Horeb is called the “old covenant” because it was first ratified, while in point of fact what is called the “new covenant” was made first, even in the beginning, with the race immediately after the fall. Its blessings and light were embraced through faith by righteous Abel. In fact, it was through faith in all the covenant implies that Abel became righteous. The same covenant was confirmed by the promise and oath of God unto Abraham. It was believed in by patriarch and prophet on the promise of God of what was to be. The covenant was at last ratified by the death of Christ upon the cross, when “the blood of the everlasting covenant” was shed. Hebrews 13:20; Luke 22:20.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.22

    It is to the “new covenant” that the term “everlasting covenant” refers. This is spoken of as the covenant made with David, but it in that case refers to David’s seed, Christ, through whom the covenant was to be established, around whom all the blessings of the covenant clustered, through whom they all came. See 2 Samuel 23:5; Psalm 50:5; 89:28; Isaiah 24:5; 55:3; 61:8; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 16:60, et al. It is called the “everlasting covenant,” because it is the only means through which the blessings of God have come to fallen man from the beginning to the close of probation. It is synchronous with the “everlasting gospel.” Revelation 14:6. The everlasting gospel is the glad tidings, or good news, of the everlasting covenant.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.23

    True righteousness embraces true motives. God judges acts by motives. If the act is to be worthy, the motive, and the heart which prompts the motive, must be pure and right. But man’s heart is by nature dominated by evil, is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Mark 7:21-23; Jeremiah 17:9. As the fountain is therefore corrupt, the deeds must be. In order that man do righteous acts the heart must be made right. This God cleanses by his wondrous grace and mighty power through faith. He gives us a new heart. He imputes to us the righteousness of God. That righteousness covers all past sins, it issues through the life in present good works.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.24

    The old covenant, or the covenant at Horeb, knew no forgiveness. It gendered to bondage. Galatians 4:24. Bondage came from it. If man could have perfectly obeyed God’s law, and had been released from all past sins, he would have had liberty under the old covenant. But that covenant could not forgive sin, neither could it change the heart. It gendered to bondage. But in the new covenant there is forgiveness, change of heart, light and knowledge of God, and a sinless life forevermore.SITI January 6, 1890, page 10.25

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