“That’s an odd place for a grave,” I thought to myself. I was looking at a church building on a busy street corner in our town. In the grass between the front doors and the sidewalk was a polished granite stone. A moment later, I realized I was not looking at a headstone, but a replica of the Ten Commandments. This church was making a statement. But were they making the right statement?
Suppose you enter my house and notice a beautifully framed certificate on the wall. The words at the top read, “Marriage License.” “That’s nice,” you think. “Tim is so proud of his marriage that he has displayed the document that brought it into being.” As you look more closely, however, you note that the license is not for my wife and me, but for two folks you’ve never met. It now seems strange that I have such a document in my house.
The marriage license may hold sentimental value for me, but it’s not my license. It grants no authority at all to me or to my wife. If I try to use it in a legal matter, my case will be summarily tossed out. The marriage covenant that I revere is not my covenant.
The same is true for all churches that point to the Ten Commandments as authoritative. While it is undeniable that those tablets given to Moses reveal much about the God we serve, the truth is that we live under a different covenant.
Hear the message of Jeremiah 31:31: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (NKJV). When the prophet wrote those words, the Law of Moses was in effect. The Ten Commandments formed the foundation of God’s covenant with Israel and Judah. But God alerted his people to a change that he would make in the future.
Hebrews 8:6 informs the careful student that those days have come: “But now [Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as he is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” To which “promises” did the writer refer? The verses that follow quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34. His point is clear: The new covenant God promised to make had been made through the work of Christ. The old covenant, represented by tablets of stone, was now “obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13).
Suppose you find a church hard at work building a giant boat. They plan to fill it with animals and food. “Why are you doing this?” you ask, and they immediately point to God’s covenant with Noah.
The covenant God made with Noah is no longer in effect for anyone. According to Jeremiah’s prophecy, neither is the covenant he made with Moses. We live under a new covenant, revealed not on stone tablets but in the pages of the New Testament.
“Hear, O Israel!”
Do we look to the appropriate authority?