The Holy Scriptures is made of two testaments: the old and the new. Jehovah was the head of the Old Testament, the god of the Hebrew people; and the New Testament has Jesus Christ as the head. Speaking of the head of the Old Testament he testified of himself, saying: “I am God” (Is. 43:12). He also said: “Besides me there is no God” (Is. 44:6). And he also declared: “I myself am Jehovah; and besides me there is no savior” (Is. 43:11). And Jehovah, having Moses as mediator, made a covenant with the people of Israel on Mount Sinai: “He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, ‘All that Jehovah has spoken will we do, and be obedient’” (Ex. 24:7).
Moses was, as we have said, the mediator of the covenant of the Old Testament, made with Jehovah (Gal. 3:19). Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, made with the Father: “But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, by so much as he is also the mediator of a better covenant, which on better promises has been given as law. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second” (Heb. 8:6-7). Let us see what are the differences between the two covenants: The old covenant of Jehovah is less demanding than the new covenant of Jesus; therefore it was gentler. Let us prove it:
- In the old covenant Jehovah made his servants rich. The king David declares: “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all; and in your hand is power and might; and it is in your hand to make great, and to give strength to all” (1 Chr. 29:12). And David died a rich man, full of glory (1 Chr. 29:27-28). In the second covenant Jesus does not accept riches. He declares: “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). Parallel texts: 1 Tim. 6:17-19; Luke 14:33; James 2:5.
- In the covenant of Jehovah the servant was forced to tithe (Mal. 3:10). In the new covenant of Jesus the servant has to give everything, for Jesus himself, said: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21). To another, very rich, who built more barns to save his crop, Jesus said: (Luke 12:20). And to another, he said: “So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
- In the old covenant Jehovah forced his servants to keep the law and to obey his statutes. Jehovah declared: “Attend to me, my people; and give ear to me, my nation: for a law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the peoples” (Is. 51:4). “They are not humbled even to this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers” (Jer. 44:10). Jesus says in his covenant: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matt. 16:24). And Paul completes it, saying: “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts” (Gal. 5:24). Jesus demands a lot more in his covenant.
- Jehovah kills those who sin: “The soul who sins, he shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). To sin is to practice evil. Jesus Christ says in his covenant: “Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:41-46). In the covenant of Jehovah the one who kills, the one who steals, the one who practices evil, this one simply dies. In the covenant of Jesus, the one who does not practice what is good will suffer the sentence of eternal fire in the company of Satan and the demons.
- Jehovah grants the divorce when a man is not pleased with his wife (Deut. 24:1-4). Jesus is against it. He says: “I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). Jesus allows the divorce only in the case that the woman is unclean and a prostitute; and this is to protect the children.
- Jehovah allowed men to have many wives. Abraham had three wives and many concubines (Gal. 4:22). He had six children from the third wife, Keturah (Gen. 25:1-7). They were seventeen in all. Solomon had 1,000 women (1 Kings 11:1-3). In the covenant of Jehovah there were many privileges. In the covenant of Jesus Christ each man has only one wife. Tested orally by the Pharisees about the divorce, Jesus said: “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6). Paul follows the same lines, saying: “The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching” (1 Tim. 3:2). “Let servants be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Tim. 3:12).
Why is the covenant of Jehovah more favorable and less demanding with the people, and why is Jesus so intransigent? The answer is simple. Those of the Old Testament were all imperfect (Heb. 7:18-19). Christ creates perfect men (2 Cor. 5:17). “The mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations. But now it has been revealed to his saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:26-28).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira