The Covenant with Abraham was established to create the People of God. The Covenant with Moses was established to maintain them. The covenant with Moses, aka the Old Covenant, is represented by the Old Testament.
It’s not a book of laws & penalties, like a civil law book. Instead, it establishes the type of life that is characteristic of God’s people. It describes a relationship. Obeying the laws builds God’s character into God’s people.
Since God’s character does not change, the laws are eternal. Mt. 5:18-19, Mark 7:1-13, Mark 10:17-21.
Three purposes of the law:
- pedagogical: it causes us to realize how far we are from God’s standard (Rom. 7:7-13, Gal. 5:1)
- civil: it restrains sin, builds society
- moral: it expresses God’s will for life on earth, as it is in God’s kingdom
Weakness of the law: people try to keep it in their own strength, as a covenant of works. There has only been one covenant of works – in Eden – and it failed. In order to keep the law, God must regenerate the person (Deut. 30:6, Jer. 31:33, Ps. 51:10-12). So we must depend on God, not ourselves, for our salvation, even under the law.