The Bible speaks numerous times about believers being heirs of God, or about us having an inheritance. There are many more examples than the ones below:
[Rom 8:17 And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together].
[Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light].
Now it logically follows that in order for us to become heirs of God, He had to have a testament that specified that we would inherit from Him. The Bible has 2 Testaments, namely the Old and New Testament. Both the Hebrew and Greek words used for “testament” in the Bible can also be translated to mean “covenant”. Whenever the context had to do with relationship, it was translated as “covenant”. Whenever the context was about inheritance, it was translated as “testament”:
G1242 (diatheke): dee-ath-ay’-kay
From G1303; properly a disposition, that is, (specifically) a contract (especially a devisory will): – covenant, testament.
It is common logic that if a person goes to their attorney and requests to draw up a new testament, that the old one is rendered invalid. In the same way God drew up His Old Testament, but later established a new one to replace it! We’ll get to the scriptures to prove this shortly.
From Exodus 19 right up to Deuteronomy we see God instating the rules and stipulations of the Old Covenant/Testament which He made with the nation of Israel. It is important to see that the ONLY heirs of this Testament were the Jews. The inheritance that God gave to them was the Promised Land, a geographical area called Canaan. They had to obey all the requirements of this Covenant/Testament perfectly in order to inherit the Promised Land.
In short this was the entire Old Testament. Neither the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Egyptians nor any other nation became heirs under the Old Testament, because we see God in numerous instances acting against these nations in favor of Israel – the only nation who inherited under the Old Testament. Moses was the mediator of this Old Covenant which was made between God and the nation of Israel. God gave them the Law which enforced the Old Covenant and is was upheld by the blood of animal sacrifices: [Heb 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself, and all the people, 20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you"].
In Heb 9 we see a stark contrast being drawn between the blood of animals (which in essence kept the old covenant alive) and the blood of Jesus, the spiritual “animal” (have you ever wondered why Jesus was called the Lamb of God?) offered as a perfect once for all sacrifice for sin: [Heb 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?]. And also [Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins]. [Heb 10:11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified].
In Gal 3 we see that God would made a New Testament that included all the nations of the earth: [Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ]. [Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise]. Nowhere under the Old Testament was any command given to Israel to spread and preach the gospel to any other nation on the earth, because only Israel were heirs under the Old Testament. But under the New Testament in Matt 28:19 we have the great commission where Jesus commanded his disciples to take the gospel to all the nations. Jesus became the mediator of a New Covenant or Testament, writing it in His own blood: [Heb 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance].
In Pt 2 of this article we will look at the exact moment that the Old Covenant/Testament came to an end and also a very interesting fact about the implications of this on our view of Jesus’ life. Here’s a fore taste:
A testament or a will only comes into power whenever somebody dies. In essence an heir cannot inherit if the testator (person who wrote the testament) is still alive. [Heb 9:16 In the case of a will it is necessary to prove that the person who made it has died, 17 for a will means nothing while the person who made it is alive; it goes into effect only after his death] (GNB). Now consider this: During the 30 years or so that Jesus lived on the earth and the 3 years that He ministered before He died, under which Testament did He live?
Yours in Grace
Andre van der Merwe