Ryan Habbena: The Old Covenant vs The New Covenant

July 9, 2017

It is essential to properly apply scripture to understand the Mosaic Covenant of the Old Testament  and the New Covenant of Grace revealed in the New Testament. In this episode of Echo Zoe, Ryan Habbena  brings his extensive study of the scriptures to contrast the similarities and distinctions between these two important covenants.


An Outline of the Discussion
  • It’s important to understand the distinctions and differences between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. There are continuities and discontinuities between the two, and many problems can arise from not properly understanding them.
  • The Old Covenant is also known as the Mosaic Covenant (Covenant handed down by God to/through Moses).
  • The nature of the covenants and the differences between them are key to understanding the Scriptures and properly practicing our faith.
  • Sometimes people take issue with calling the Mosaic Covenant the “Old” Covenant. Ryan simply points people to the book of Hebrews, which refers to the Mosaic Covenant as the “Old” Covenant.
  • We begin to understand the Covenant by looking to the mediator of the Covenant, that is Moses for the Old and Jesus for the New.
  • The Old/Mosaic Covenant is sometimes referred to as the Covenant of Sinai, as it was given at Mt. Sinai.
  • The Exodus from Egypt is considered the birth of Israel as a nation. The parting of the Red Sea is illustrative of water breaking during birth.
  • Once the Israelites leave Egypt and enter the wilderness wanderings, the imagery shifts from birth to marriage.
  • The Old/Mosaic Covenant was bilateral, meaning both parties to the Covenant had responsibilities to each other.
  • There were blessings promised for obedience, and warnings of curses for disobedience.
  • Many of the curses concerning disobedience are still in effect today.
  • The New Covenant is supreme. Hebrews refers to it as the Eternal Covenant. (13:20)
  • Paul refers to the Old Covenant as a Custodian (Galatians 3:24-25) (Also translated Tutor, Schoolmaster, or Guardian)
  • The Law (Old Covenant) had a purpose, and it was good. It was its misuse that was and is evil.
  • Israel is, today, still in exile. The promise for their return is that it will be in righteousness, with the Lord in their midst.
  • John the Baptist comes to herald the coming of the New Covenant, and some believe he was the rightful heir to the priesthood. This presents interesting imagery as the rightful Aaronic priest turns the office over to Christ, the ultimate priest.
  • Jesus encounters a leper in Mark 1 who asks to make him clean. Jesus touches him and makes him clean. The clean (Jesus) makes the unclean (the Leper) clean again. This is juxtaposed to the Old Covenant, where the unclean taints the clean.
  • Moses foretold of another prophet, like him (Jesus) that would come, and commanded the people to listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:15)
  • At the Last Supper, Jesus points to the elements of the Passover meal to carry out His ministry, and shows how they point to Him.
  • Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection ushered in the New Covenant.
  • In the Old Covenant, the Law is written on stone. In the New, it is written on our hearts. Writing it on the heart is a sign of God changing people on the inside and enabling them to obey the Law.
  • All who are under the New Covenant know the Lord, whereas under the Old Covenant, there was only a remnant.
  • Paul is adamant that we not look back to the Old Covenant, as the New is the means by which we are established in God's grace.
  • Early in Acts, the Gospel has still only gone to the Jews. The few gentiles that would be present were converts to Judaism.
  • Cornelius and his household were considered the first gentile converts to the Gospel (New Covenant.)
  • We do not seek sanctification in the Old Covenant and its precepts and requirements. We are not saved by Jesus to be sanctified by Moses.
  • There will be a new Temple built before the return of Christ. We do not go back to the Temple system, such is rebellion.
  • The Covenant is not a call to lawlessness, but rather a call to finally walk in the precepts of God.
  • The nation of Israel will eventually be saved (as a nation), and it will be through the New Covenant.
Scriptures Referenced

(Not exhaustive)

  • Deuteronomy 28:1-15, 36-44
  • Hebrews 13:20
  • Galatians 3:24-25
  • Judges 2:1
  • Hebrews 8:8
  • Jeremiah 31:31-34
  • Luke 1:5,8
  • Mark 1:40-42
  • Deuteronomy 18:15
  • Luke 22:20
Additional Resources
  • Hebrews – Bob DeWaay adult Sunday School series
  • Hebrews – John MacArthur preaching series
  • Hebrews – S. Lewis Johnson preaching series
  • Hebrews – Monergism.com
  • Hebrews – James White sermon series
  • Friend/Listener recommendations:

  • Hebrews – Albert Mohler preaching series
  • Hebrews – Mark Webb preaching series
  • Hebrews – Barry Parsons preaching series
  • Hebrews – TEDS Lecture Series: D.A. Carson
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