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W E R E TH E

OLD COVENANT
A N D TH E
T EN
C O M M AN D M EN T S
THE SAME THING?

is a formal agreement. It can be an agreement


S hould the old covenant be seen as more or
between two people, a treaty between nations, or
a relationship between God and a human
less identical to the law? Or, are the two individual or nation." However, in the course of
substantially different entities altogether? One argumentation, a truly CRUCIAL term switch
of the foundational fallacies of the teachings of (equivocation) occurs. Pasadena then says that
the Worldwide Church of God concerning the law and the old covenant are the same,
abolition of the Sabbath is about how it equates thereby confusing what the agreement (contract)
the old covenant and the law. was about with the agreement itself:

Pasadena has defined "covenant" the way The Ten Commandments were the
a dictionary would: "We can start by defining words of the covenant. . . . The Ten
the word covenant. In simple terms, a covenant Commandments formed the core of

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the Sinaitic, or old covenant, but the Kings 8:9,21. But is this covenant the same
covenant also included all of Exodus covenant as the old covenant? No--instead,
20-24. . . . The old covenant, as a actually two covenants were made with Israel in
package of laws regulating a Ex. 19-24, one of which was the Ten
relationship between God and his Commandments, the other which is the old
people, is obsolete. . . . This "setting
aside" is not just talking about
covenant in which God made Israel His chosen
Levitical and sacrificial laws that people with various (material) blessings in
were added to the old covenant--it is exchange for their promise of obedience. But--
talking about the old covenant itself. how do we know they are different covenants?
The whole package was set aside and
replaced by Christ. Evidence that these covenants are
different is found in how Paul's descriptions of
David Albert also expressed this viewpoint the Ten Commandments or the law don't fit those
succinctly and clearly: made about the old covenant. For example, the
author of Hebrews (8:6-7) said about the old
I didn’t know and nobody had ever covenant: "But now He has obtained a more
taught me in my 35 years in the excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the
Church that the Ten Commandments mediator of a better covenant, WHICH HAS
were the old covenant, as is to clearly BEEN ENACTED, on better promises. For if
stated in Ex. 34:28 and again in that first covenant had been faultless, there
Deuteronomy 4:13. I see now that
would have been no occasion sought for a
we were ignorant about such basics
as how God in his Word defines the second." Consider carefully as you read through
old covenant--namely, by the Ten the Ten Commandments: Can you find anything
Commandments and vice versa. wrong or weak with their promises? Paul quotes
Nobody ever taught me the truth and the fifth commandment in Eph. 6:1-3, inserting
the sweeping implications of these the parenthetical thought "(which is the first
two vitally important verses. commandment with a promise)" concerning its
statement, "that it may be well with you, and that
The importance of this issue can’t be stressed you may live long on the earth." Now, what's
enough. For it was the most important argument wrong with that promise? Don't the meek inherit
in Mr. Tkach’s three hour sermon that first the earth (Matt. 5:5) for life evermore? As
announced the A new covenant changes that Walker put it: "It is scripturally impossible for
would abolish the Sabbath, tithing, and the holy the Ten Commandments to be the old covenant,
days. for there are no defective promises found
therein." This text also implies Paul thought
Here it shall be maintained that the Ten individual parts of the Ten Commandments were
Commandments, and indeed all the laws God still binding, when he so-matter-of-factly cites
gave to Israel, are not the same thing as the old the fifth one.
covenant. By itself, the old covenant was a
contract between God and Israel in which the Consider--the old covenant wasn't
latter made a generic promise of obedience in "faultless" (Heb. 8:7). Do the Ten
return for material (not spiritual) national Commandments have any faults in them?
blessings. (Lev. 26 and Deut. 28 describe the Would you dare call something written by the
physical promises, and won't be the focus of this finger of God (Ex. 31:18) and thundered aloud
analysis). Now, the Ten Commandments are by His own voice (Ex. 19:11-12, 19-20; 20:1;
called a "covenant" in Deut. 4:13; 9:9-11; I Deut. 5:4-5, 22-27; 9:10) defective or faulty? Ps.

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19:7 says: "The law of the Lord is perfect, exists and the other doesn't. Similarly, if the law
restoring the soul." James 1:25 says: "But one was substantially identical to the old covenant,
who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of then one could insert into Romans 3:31 "old
liberty, and abides by it, not having become a covenant" where "law" appears, and it would
forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man make sense: "Do we then nullify the (old
shall be blessed in what he does." In Romans covenant) through faith? May it never be! On
7:12, Paul maintains: "So then, the Law is holy, the contrary, we establish the (old covenant)."
and the commandment is holy and righteous and The absurdity of saying the law and the old
good." Could such a law be faulty as well if it is covenant are substantially one and the same is
"perfect," "holy," "righteous," and "good"? Can evident.
you honestly maintain these descriptions of the
Ten Commandments or the law fit the old Now the giving of the law is implied to
covenant? (Remember, Paul had just quoted the be different from the covenants in Romans 9:4:
tenth commandment in Rom. 7:7, so this should "(W)ho are Israelites, to whom belongs the
be the "law" he has in mind in v. 12). God found adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants
fault with the people of Israel (Heb. 8:8), not and the giving of the law and the temple service
His law itself, because they tried to obey it by and the promises." Implicitly, the law is not
human effort. For the basic flaw of the old made identical to the covenants (plural)
covenant lies not in the law Israel was supposed mentioned since it is listed separately from
to obey in its contract with God, but in them them. The old covenant wasn't the law itself, but
trying to do it without God's Holy Spirit to aid it was made "concerning all these words" (Ex.
them in their attempt. 24:8, KJV) of God's law in written form. A
similar distinction exists in Ex. 34:27-28 in
The old covenant now no longer exists, which the covenant between God and Israel is
which is what Heb. 8:13 really says: "When He different from the Ten Commandments: "And
said, 'A new covenant,' He had made the first the Lord said to Moses, 'Write these words, for
obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete after the purpose and character of these words I
and growing old is ready to disappear." But does have made a covenant with you and with Israel'"
God's law continue to exist? James thinks so (v. 27, Amplified). "It was not the law itself but
(2:10-11): "For whoever keeps the whole law over the keeping of the law--'the tenor of the
and yet stumbles in one point, he has become words'--that the Old Covenant was made.@
guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit Moses called the golden calf Israel worshipped
adultery,' also said, 'Do not commit murder.' "your sin, the calf which you had made," yet this
Now if you do not commit adultery, but do wasn't the sin itself (compare I Cor. 10:19). "In
commit murder, you have become a transgressor the same way the Old Covenant was not the law,
of the law." Paul also thinks so in Romans 7:7- but it was concerning the law. Thus it is called
8: "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? the covenant." Again, we have more reasons to
May it never be! On the contrary, I would not doubt the view the law and the old covenant are
have come to know sin except through the Law; basically identical.
for I would not have known about coveting [i.e
as a sin] if the Law had not said, 'You shall not Another way to look at the relationship
covet.' But sin, taking opportunity through the between the old covenant and the Ten
commandment, produced in me coveting of Commandments is to see the latter as the basis
every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead for the former. For the failure of Israel to obey
[i.e. doesn't exist]." Hence, the law couldn't be God (i.e., uphold its part of the contract) doesn't
the same thing as the old covenant since one still make its basis cease to exist, since the contract is

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about or concerns the basis, but isn't it itself. Hence, the teaching of the Worldwide
The old covenant was not a law, but an Church of God that the Ten commandments are
agreement to keep the law. And Israel failed basically the same thing as the old covenant is
miserably in keeping this law, and failed to incorrect. Therefore, one can’t argue that the
uphold its part of the covenant. For God found end of the old covenant abolishes the Sabbath,
"fault with them" (Heb. 8:8), that is, the people, the Holy Days, or tithing. For after all, if God
not his perfect law (Ps. 19:17; James 1:25). The says (Heb. 8:10), AI will put My laws into their
basic flaw with the old covenant was on the minds, and I will write them upon their hearts,
human end (trying to obey without spiritual how does that abolish the law, as opposed to
help), not God's (concerning His law). It=s making it more binding? Therefore, the end of
incorrect to say the law, sacrificial or moral, was the old covenant and the establishment of the
the old covenant, as opposed to saying it was new, far from abolishing these laws, allows them
about, concerning, or was the basis for, Israel's to be written on our hearts.
general promise to obey in return for material
national blessings. 

This whole line of ultimately reasoning comes from a truly brilliant SDA book by Allen Walker called The Law and the Sabbath. Its
chief value lies in how it refutes this crucial argument of Pasadena’s, which Dr. Bacchiocchi’s works don=t appear to deal with. For this
argument was at the core of the arguments Brinsmead made in his Verdict articles and Ratzlaff made in Sabbath in Crisis. It can be
ordered for $6.95 plus $2 postage from: Amazing Facts, P.O. Box 680, Frederick, MD 21705-0680.

Joseph W. Tkach, APersonal ,@ Worldwide News, p. 1.

Ibid., pp. 2-3.

David Albert, AHow I Came to Understand the New Covenant,@ WWN, June 20, 1995, p. 5.

Those who may still deny Christians are under the new covenant now, saying it begins at the second coming, should carefully ponder that
past tense!

Walker, The Law and the Sabbath, p. 185.

Joe Crews, Answers to Difficult Bible Texts, p. 9.

J.L.Tucker, Another Look At The Christian Sabbath, p. 73.

BY: ERIC SNOW


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