Tag Archives: New Covenant

Shelter for our Enemies

Isaiah 16 demonstrates an interesting dimension of Judeo Christian ethics. In this passage, God is punishing Moab for past sins against God’s people. Yet, God commands his people in verse four, “let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you; be a shelter to them from the destroyer” (ESV).

It’s often imagined that compassion for one’s enemies is a purely Christian commandment first given by Jesus. Of course, Jesus takes it to a new level by telling us to love them. We imagine because Jesus said, Matthew 5: 43f, “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ but I say to you, Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you” (ESV). Because of this many have claimed the Old Testament taught hatred for one’s enemies. Actually, no such command is found in scripture. Jesus, in this passage, is directly referencing the extra biblical teachings of the Pharisees.

Actually, Jesus command in Matthew 5:43f is very much in keeping with the tenor of Old Testament on behavior towards one’s enemies. Jesus took it farther by commanding active love towards them, but the Old Testament includes several admonishments to act toward them in a loving way (Ex 23:4f; Pro 24:17; 25:21; 29:10 to name but a few).

Yes, there were times the people of God were commanded to kill their enemies in warfare. However, we must be careful to discern two things, (1) these were directly commanded by God, or in response to active enemy attack, and (2) these were commands for the nation and not the individual. The duties of the individual were often very different from those of the nation. It was often the actions of the nation that made it possible for the individual to live to a higher ethical standard. Think of it today as our government leaders have the duty to punish the evil doer, and my individual duty is to forgive that same evil doer.

In Isaiah 16 God commands us not to gloat over our enemies. It also commands us to actively shelter our enemies from the outpouring of God’s wrath. Think of it this way:

“Moab has harmed you and attacked you. Moab has taken advantage of you when you were smitten. Now, I will smite Moab and punish them severely. But when they come among you to escape the destroyer I send among them, you must shelter and protect them. You must not do as they have done, but must behave as my people should.”

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Only Sacrifice for Sins

The Old Covenant provided sacrifices to be performed over and over for sins. The New Covenant also provided a blood offering for sins, but the two are quite different. Heb 10:3-4 (ESV) says, “But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Under the Old Covenant the sacrifices had to be completed year by year, day by day, over and over. Sin was not actually removed, it was merely covered. We too often make the mistake of believing sins were actually removed by these sacrifices, but such offerings could never remove sins.

There was only one sacrifice ever offered that actually removed sins. This offering was the last one performed under the Old Covenant—the sacrifice of Christ. Once this was completed sins were removed (not just covered) and the Old Covenant sacrificial system was abolished. The New Covenant was ushered in.

There was only one sacrifice efficacious for the removal and forgiveness of sins. All the others were merely a shadow of the true sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:1). Don’t make the mistake of thinking anyone was actually forgiven for offering bulls or lambs. Instead those who made these offerings had their sins “laid aside” or “overlooked” without punishment, until God offered the only sacrifice that would forgive us and them. No one in any age has ever been saved outside of Jesus Christ. No one in any age will ever be saved outside of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not an alternative route of salvation offered by God. Jesus is the only route of salvation offered by God.

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