The Covenant with Abraham Is Not the Covenant with Israel in the Law

It has been longer than I would like since I posted on here, so here’s a thought on my daily Bible study. I have recently begun a “binge-reading” Bible challenge to read the whole Bible before the end of the year. Today I read a passage in the Old Testament that beautifully wove together a truth in a single passage that I have believe. That truth is the certainty that God’s purpose for Israel as a nation will never fail.

As a dispensationalist, I believe the Bible teaches that there is a distinction between Israel and the church. This has been explained many times by many of people of like belief. The significance of today is my discovery passage of a single passage in Deuteronomy that shows in clear terms an important distinction in Israel’s history, namely the distinction between what is called the Abrahamic Covenant and what is called the Mosaic Covenant.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses begins to exhort the people to keep the law he is about to explain again to them. This is after their 40 years of wilderness wandering, and they are about to enter the land. In vv1-14, Moses retells the experience of Israel at Sinai. The key verse is v13, in which the whole experience is summarized in this way: “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.” This is not a profound statement of itself, since the whole arrangement is explained in a little more detail beginning in Exodus 19. What is interesting is the way Moses weaves this with other truth in the rest of the chapter under examination. Returning to Deu. 4, vv15-24 provide a challenge to Israel to be faithful to that covenant. And they should be. Following this section, vv25-31 discuss what will happen to Israel if they aren’t faithful. It is in this section that the point is made that even if they suffer destruction, they will not be fully destroyed. The reason is that “He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (v31b, emphasis mine) This is a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant (see Gen. 12:1-3). It is clear that even though the Jews may have had the conditions attached to their agreement at Sinai, there were no such conditions involved in God’s original promises to Abraham. This is a crucial turning point to clarify that the church has not replaced Israel, because there are still clear promises to be fulfilled that God made to Abraham’s descendants. This hardly resolves the debate between dispensationalism and other systems, but this passage does give a clear demonstration that these two covenants are distinct. We look forward to the fulfillment of the later covenant, the New Covenant (e.g. Jer. 33), to the House of Israel to enable them to keep all the law and dwell in the land God promised to give to Abraham’s descendants. Praise the LORD!