The Messengers of the Covenants

By C. Eldon McNabb

Concerning his "kinsmen according to the flesh," Paul said in Rom. 9, "To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."

When we think of God's covenants we usually think of two; the one sent by "the messenger" Moses, at Sinai, in the Old Testament, and the one sent by "the messenger" Jesus in the New Testament. However, God also made a covenant with all mankind by Noah, (Gen 6 & 9) then He gave to Abraham what Stephen called the Covenant of Circumcision, for him and his descendants. (Gen 17:1-14,19,21; Acts 7:8.) God also gave unto Phinehas, and his seed after him His Covenant of Peace by Moses. (Num. 25:10-13.) And "Joshua made a covenant with the people. (Joshua 24:25-27.) Also, seven years after Athaliah had killed all of the seed royal except for Joash the son of Ahaziah, "Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people; between the king also and the people." (2 Kings 11:17.) And finally, there was "the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb." (Deut 29:1.)

I have noted these covenants from among all of the covenants in the Holy Scriptures because they were each given by a messenger. Moses was the messenger of three of them, and Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Jehoiada and Jesus were the messengers of the other five. Seven of them were given under the Old Testament order, the other one by Jesus, the Christ of God, abolishing the old (2 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 8:13), and ushering in the "Law of Faith." (Rom. 3:27.) Jesus said that all of those things which were in the Old Testament were prophetic shadows of the things which God was going to cause to come to pass beginning with John the Baptist. (Matt. 11:13; Heb. 10:1.) The truth of this subject, as with any other in the Bible, must be ascertained by "rightly dividing the word of truth."

God gave a covenant to Moses at Sinai. It was real, and was imposed upon the children of Israel until the destruction of the temple in 70 a.d. Yet, as real as it was, that covenant was simply the shadow of the covenant which God gave by Jesus Christ. As God said by Moses, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." Jesus came according to the words of that prophecy, and gave us the "Law of Faith," wherefore, we have the fourteen tenets of that law in the 5th through the 7th chapters of Matthew. In that passage, five or six times Jesus used the expression, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ... But I say unto you..."

For many years, I often wondered why the New Testament Jews were required to keep the Law of Moses, even though they also were under "The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus" after Jesus was raised from the dead. I finally realized that was what Paul was talking about in such passages as Heb. 8:13. Where he said, "In that He saith a new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." Paul also said in 1 Cor. 3:13, that The Law was "abolished," but, in Paul's day, the Law of Moses had not yet vanished away.

The covenant and the Law of Moses were given to Israel at the beginning of Israel's journey to the land which God had promised them. However, when their journey in the wilderness was coming to and end, and the time had come for that new nation to enter into the land which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God gave them another covenant. He began to speak of the provisions of that covenant in Deuteronomy chapter 27, and at the beginning of his summation in chapter 29, the Lord said, "These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb." That Horeb is Mt. Sinai.

That covenant is no less a shadow of a New Testament era covenant than was the one at Sinai. We Christians have been on our journey to "inherit the world" for almost two thousand years. During most of that time, Gentile Christianity has been the repository of the word of God. Since Jesus took the kingdom of God away from Israel, as Jesus said He would in Matt. 21:43. We have been as "a wild olive tree, ... grafted in" to the natural olive tree. Accordingly, one thing this Gentile messenger of the covenant will do is create a situation which will accomplish their grafting in again to their own olive tree.

The prophecy of Deut. 29:1 must be fulfilled before the coming of our King. By this covenant, the messenger of God will unite all of God's faithful followers in the unity of The Faith, so that we may greet Him in unison upon His arrival.

John the Baptist prepared the way before the Lord Jesus when He came in His role as Savior of the world. There will just as surely be another "man sent from God" to prepare for Jesus to come as our Lord and King. When John was preaching "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," the Israelites were anxiously awaiting the coming of their King-Messiah. John was going against a very strong current of public opinion, but he prevailed. He managed to prepare the hearts of the men whom Jesus would appoint into the offices of the Twelve and the Seventy. (Acts 1:21,22.) So also shall this messenger of the covenant prevail to prepare a people for the King.

When God said, in Malachi 3:1-6, "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me," and concluded with the words, "For I am the Lord, I change not," He meant for us to know that He intended to send a messenger to prepare for the coming of Christ the King just as He had done for Jesus, the Lamb of God. Jesus indeed applied that prophecy of the messenger to John the Baptist in Matthew 11, but the implication is clear: He will send another. And, whereas Jesus was indeed the messenger of the New Covenant, as was Moses of the Old, there is yet the necessity of there being another "messenger of the covenant" who will fulfill the shadow of Deut. 29:1, as he administers the Lord's covenant, besides the one which Jesus purchased, and sealed with His blood on Calvary. It is that messenger of which we read in Malachi 3:2-4, who "shall sit as a refiner and purifier of Silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi (that is the elect; the "Church of the firstborn"), and purge them as gold and silver that they may offer into the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years." In the words of the Apostle Paul, this messenger of the Covenant will prepare, from among the Gentiles, a "glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," and they shall be "pleasant unto the Lord," as the Church was in the days of the Apostles of our Lord.

It is that messenger who shall "Build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down," (Matt. 17:11) because "The Throne of David" must be ready for Jesus to sit upon when He comes. God said in Isaiah 16:5, "In mercy shall the throne be established." That certainly requires that it be established before Jesus comes, because when He comes, He will have left the Throne of Mercy. In verse five He continues, "And He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness." That messenger that shall come will come with God's covenant, and restore all things. AMEN!