God is Jehovah Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness, continued:
The Answer to Life is in the Trail of Blood
Before we can understand the New Covenant (New Testament), we must understand the old one. It is a trail of blood pointing to the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, like a red thread woven throughout the whole Bible. Please follow that red trail with me:
Way back in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, thereby allowing sin and death to enter the human condition, God cursed the ground and then He cursed the serpent. He told him, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen.3:15). The offspring was Jesus-the man child-who would be satan’s rival. But Jesus would have the final victory. He would someday crush the devil’s head by reversing for mankind the choice that Adam and Eve made for themselves and all their descendants. This is the first reference to the hope of a second “Adam” to come who would choose life for mankind, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:19).
The Bible says there were two unique trees in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve could have eaten from the Tree of Life (not forbidden) and lived forever in a heavenly state. Instead, they chose to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden in an act of love so they would not eat of the Tree of Life and forever live in their sin. Their eyes were opened to good and evil; therefore, seeing that they were naked, God clothed them in animal skins-shedding blood to cover them.
When Adam and Eve’s sons Cain and Abel were born, their parents taught them to worship God. Cain presented some of the fruit of the ground and Abel the first born of his flocks. God was not pleased with Cain’s offering and told him why:
“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4: 6-7
This passage has much to do with the attitude of the heart in giving to God. Evidently, God saw Cain’s heart and was not pleased and was warning Cain to beware. Cain did not take heed, because he killed his brother in jealousy. Nevertheless, Abel’s offering involved the shedding of blood, possibly a foreshadowing of the only blood (of Jesus) that would remove sin forever.
Approximately 1,500 years later, Noah built an altar to worship God. After the flood, when the ark rested on dry land, Noah took some animals and birds, and sacrificed them on an altar- shedding blood. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” (Gen.8:20-21).
Approximately 400 years after Noah’s ark rested on Mount Ararat, Abraham arrived in Canaan, the land God promised him. The Lord asked of Abraham to bring Him a heifer, a goat and a ram, along with a dove and a young pigeon. This was when God promised Abraham an heir that would come from his own body. After Abraham killed the animals-shedding their blood-and worshipped God with his best offerings, God made a covenant with Abraham to bless him with descendants as numerous as the stars. He also revealed that his offspring would be in bondage in a foreign land for 400 years.
Later, God came to Abraham again to solidify the covenant, telling Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, and sealed the Old Covenant by the rite of circumcision-the shedding of blood. Circumcision is defined in Genesis 17:10-11, for “every male among you . . . in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.”
Abraham’s grandson Jacob (son of Isaac and Rebecca), whose name was later changed to Israel, had twelve sons who became the “Children of Israel.” These were the descendants (Israelites) who found themselves as slaves in Egypt for four hundred years. About two hundred years after Abraham’s day, Jacob and his sons went to Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan.
After the 400 years, Moses appeared on the scene to bring deliverance to the Israelites. God brought ten plagues upon the Egyptians in order to persuade the Pharaoh to free His peoples. The tenth plague-which convinced Pharaoh to let the people leave Egypt for the Promised Land of Canaan-brought death to the firstborn of the Egyptians. It was blood from an unblemished lamb, a male, one year old, placed on the doorposts of the Israelites homes that spared their firstborns’ lives. The angel of death passed over their homes when he saw the blood, but took the lives of the Egyptian’s firstborn children and animals, because they did not honor the one true God in their homes.
“Because God spared the firstborn of Israel in the last plague that came over Egypt, all firstborn sons and firstborn animals belonged to God. The animals were sacrificed while the men were redeemed. To be redeemed, the family paid a price to the priest instead of giving their firstborn over to the service of the temple.”2 This was a part of the first covenant, the shedding of blood to gain forgiveness of sin; in other words, redemption. The rest of it resided in keeping the law.
God gave the Law, the Ten Commandments, to Moses, thereby laying the foundation for acceptable attitudes and behavior-rather than just sacrifices-of reverence for God and man. In addition to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, King Saul, King David, and Elijah all shed the blood from firstborn animals, without blemish, offering them to God on an altar in worship to the only true God of heaven and earth.
Moses then wrote down the laws and all the words of the Lord in a book:
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Thus, “the covenant that pledged to obey the Law was sealed in blood.”3 The people said, “We will obey.”
Did it happen?
This brings us to Jeremiah’s day, approximately 598 B.C.,4 when the Israelites burned incense to false gods until God’s message to Jeremiah came true. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon [present day Baghdad], marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building was burned down. The people were taken into exile. The bronze, gold and silver from the temple were taken.
Following this, the Jews were under Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian, Syrian and Roman domination until 70 A.D., seventy years after the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to overturn the choices of Adam and Eve. Is it any wonder that the prophet Isaiah would again foretell of the coming of another covenant? “Give ear and come to me, hear me, that your soul may live, I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David” (Isaiah 55:3). This everlasting covenant can only be the New Covenant established through the blood of Jesus Christ of King David’s lineage, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Heb.9:22).
God “provided Himself a Lamb” who saved His people from their sin.
The blood of the Lamb brings salvation, just as the blood of the lamb brought salvation to the Israelites from Egypt.
And by that one sacrifice “. . . we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb.10:10). Holy means a state of righteousness. In other words, we are accepted, not for animal sacrifices anymore, but just as we are. Plus, all of mankind is redeemed through Jesus’ blood, but available only to those who choose to accept it.
The apostle Paul, from the New Testament, writes:
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 10:15-18
The Old Covenant was a part of the Old Testament whereby God was preparing one family (Abraham’s), to found one nation (Jewish nation of Israel) to bring one man (Jesus) into the world. Jesus’ purpose was to make the final, once and for all, sacrifice for sin–the second Adam who reversed the choice, and curse, of the first.
The Old Covenant provided for a yearly atonement, meaning covering in Hebrew.5 Only the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, which was where God’s presence resided on earth in the Jewish temple. The High Priest confessed the sins of the people on the head of a goat (called a scapegoat). It was then sent into the wilderness, outside the camp, to be destroyed. During the year, the people made blood covenant sacrifices that pertained to their daily life, but this annual sacrifice for sin in the Old Testament, was only “an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away any sins” (Heb.10:3).
This reminder pointed toward a King who would take away sin forever. In the Old Testament, sins were only covered (atoned). In the New Testament, Jesus defeated satan (crushed his head) by taking the punishment for our sin–eternal death and hell–by going to hell for us,6 so we don’t have to endure that punishment. And sin becomes as though it never existed!
When Jesus died on the cross something else happened that had a profound meaning. At the very moment Jesus gave up His spirit, the curtain leading to the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.7 No longer would there be a separation between God and man. Jesus took the place of the High Priest, becoming our Intercessor, or Advocate with the Father. He was the scapegoat, taking upon himself the sin of the whole world, through shedding his blood for us.
Because of the obedience of one man, many have been made righteous by Jehovah Tsidkenu. And, the fellowship that Adam and Eve had in the garden with Elohim–the Creator and Triune God-is restored and available to us today–from our heart to His heart. “God does not justify us because we are worthy, but by justifying us makes us worthy.”8
Marie knew how to go through the motions of worship–the very same as keeping the laws and requirements of the Old Covenant. She grasped that going to church was important (or to the temple to offer sacrificial offerings), but she had no personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
How did she come to grasp the secrets of the New Covenant as written on the heart? What is the New Covenant anyway? The next chapter will reveal.
1. Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 1990), p. 1767.
2. Henry Hampton Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000), p. 156.
3. Ibid., p. 148.
4. Adam Clark,LL.D., F.S. A., &c., Clark’s Commentary Volume IV-Isaiah-Malachi (Abington Press, New York, Nashville), p. 313.
5. Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1736.
6. See Ephesians 4:9, Acts 2:31, I Peter 3:19 and Revelation 1:18.
7. See Matthew 27:51.
8. Thomas Watson, circa 1557-1592.