Why Practice the Old Covenant in the Millennium?
NOTE: This Question/Answer is compiled from an untitled, taped lecture by Dr. Martin from 1979, and a short question/answer article from 1976.
ANSWER: At the beginning of the Millennium a number of things will be brought back into existence — and required by God. The Holy Days will be brought back in for those in Jerusalem. They will also affect Gentiles living there. The Sabbath will also be brought back in. Animal sacrifices will be performed again at the beginning of the Millennium (Ezekiel 43:18-27). You can find this all indicated in Ezekiel chapters 40–48.
Not only animal sacrifices, but sin offerings will be brought back (Ezekiel 45:18-25), which is most remarkable, because we see in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is our sin offering. He is the one who died for us, and we do not need animal sacrifices any longer. Yes, animal sacrifices will be brought back. It specifically says that sin and trespass offerings will be brought back. And mystery of mysteries! Circumcision (Ezekiel 44:7-9) will also be brought back for men! That is what it says in Ezekiel and one or two other places. Why?
I have some ideas on the matter. Most likely the trauma of God's wrath on the surviving humans, both of Israel and the nations, will require elementary teachings be taught about everything. This is confirmed by Ezekiel's statement that the Levites will have to teach Israel in the Millennium (Ezekiel 44, especially verse 23). Even then, the laws will not be placed in peoples hearts, it cannot happen (Hebrews 8:10).
Another possible reason could be that the man of sin would so pervert the Law of God that people need to be instructed in the proper basics of God's Law, they need to begin at kindergarten. The world will be reduced to the keeping of sabbaths and holydays, in a false way under antichrist, when the true Christ actually comes, He will begin His rule by rededicating those Old Covenant regulations in their pure form (just as the physical structure of the Temple would have to be rededicated).
I would like to know specifically myself in every detail, but I know I will not have to go through the Old Covenant again. I have been through it once already, for about 20 years of my life. I am not sure I would like to experience it once more.
There are people that like that type of an existence. They like to be told what to do. They like to be regimented 24 hours a day. That is fine if that is what they want. I know one man, all he preaches about is what will happen in the Millennium. (He has it most all backwards, but never mind.) He would be very disappointed if he could not live in the type of environment that he is prognosticating. I wish him all the best in the world. I hope he has to go through it and have his belly full of it. I do not want any more of it myself.
The point is this, the Old Covenant will be brought in. Probably the main reasons I suppose is because the Bible says that the fault with ancient Israel under the Old Covenant regime was not God’s problem. The problem, the fault, lay with the people.
Who was it that God blamed for this “terrible” type of religion that was imposed upon Israel back there, for the way the Israelites acted? They were at fault (Hebrews 8:8). They did not keep the Old Covenant the way they should have. Who was it that got blamed for that situation? God got blamed. God had to give these Israelites all these terrible laws and they did not keep them. The people did not get blamed so much, it was always God.
Israel will be back in Palestine as a full-fledged nation with a King, one of these days. That King will be Jesus Christ according to biblical revelation. When He gets there He will start all over again and He will have the Egyptians around, the Babylonians, and others, but He will start the Old Covenant again when He comes back.
I think one of the reasons is to show that it is not God that is bad at all. It is the people that have made the mistakes. I say I think because I have no scriptural evidence for the reason, but I think that God will vindicate Himself in the eyes of the world. People have always said YHWH was a very bad God. He was not, of course, but that is what they said. (If they would have said that the people were bad, that would be different.)
There is one other reason. I said that I have lived in the Old Covenant long enough as far as I was concerned. However, it was good until I understood it better. You are completely under domination. You tend to want release or relief from it. If you can get God to say, you do not have to do this anymore, then when it is not required anymore, it is such a relief they want to thank God when they find out that God has released them.
My book on Tithing [now titled The Tithing Dilemma] shows how Jesus Christ has released people from the domination of the tithe of the Old Testament that was to go to the priests. Is there anything wrong with that tithe? No, but the point is that Christians and people who accept New Testament teaching do not have to go with the tithing law at all.
But you take denominations that preach Law, that is one of the first things that they will preach, because that is where the money comes from. Tithing is very important to lawkeepers. It is interesting that once you know what Grace is all about (I hope we would), then you are released from that.
It is a funny thing, but to give 10% of your money when you are told to is not as satisfying as giving 10% or 11% or 1% of your money when you do not have to, and you do it out of the abundance of the heart. It is much, much better. That is why the New Testament emphasizes the giving of the heart. Sometimes you pay more or maybe not as much. But you do not have to let your family go hungry to support some church—or some man, usually. You do not have to lose your house to support a tithing system that God has released you from performing.
In a word, it comes down to this: I think God will start all over with lawkeeping at its height, and let people get their fill of it, and then step-by-step, He will bring in a New Covenant relationship, and then finally show what the Mystery, the “Great Secret,” is all about where all ritual is stripped away completely.
What you have left is nothing more than Jesus Christ. You have everything when you have Him. That is all that is left when the final analysis is shown. I do not know how long—because it is not indicated in the Scripture—how long this Old Covenant relationship will continue in Israel after the establishment of the Millennium. I do not know, but I do not think it will take too long.
Will the Old Covenant continue for the full 1,000 years? Maybe so, for those who want it, who will live here on the earth at the time, living in Jerusalem. But it is not revealed in Scripture how long or what intensity it will be throughout the Millennium for the keeping of the Old Covenant.
My personal feeling is that it will not last all that long. I think that people would want to jettison it for the better things of the teachings of Christ given particularly in the Gospel of John, and they would want that very quickly indeed. If they want it quickly, they would get it quickly.
Look at the present. There are pagans in the world today, or people who have no covenant relationship with God at all, nothing of a biblical nature. Call them pagans, but you could use other terms to define them. That does not mean that they do not have certain covenant privileges according to the Bible. Everybody on earth has the rainbow as a covenant sign that the totality of the earth will not again be flooded. That applies to pagans or anybody on earth, it makes no difference. All types of people have certain types of covenant promises. Pagans are outside of a covenant relationship with God.
There are Israelites in the world, we call them Jews today. They claim to live by the Laws of Moses. I know lots of people in Jerusalem who attempt it. These Israelites, here in 1979, are under what we would call the Old Covenant. And they like it apparently. They want to perpetuate it and continue practicing it. Then there are people, some called Christians.
There are Christians who are under what they call the New Covenant, and they want to be under it. One benefit is that the Law is written on their hearts (Hebrews 8:10-11). That nature of the New Covenant relationship is made quite clear in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians. If a person wants that type of covenant relationship, that is fine.
I use this word "Mystery" simply because Paul used it. It means the “Great Secret,” a secret that has become revealed. But there are people who understand this principle of the Mystery, which means that there is no longer any covenant relationship whatsoever dealing with salvation.
Every time you have a covenant you must have agreements made one with another. God makes an agreement with Israel. Israel makes an agreement with God. It is called the Old Covenant.
With Christians—still Israelites however, but new Israelites—God makes a covenant with them, called a New Covenant (relative to the Old). The people here then respond by making a covenant with God. It is reciprocal.
The Mystery has no covenant connect with it at all. God says, I am going to save everybody, I will strip all the requirements away. There is no covenant relationship—just a promise. That is far better. The world today, 1979, we have pagans (the vast majority). Then we have a few Israelites (Jews) that are under the Old Covenant and they want to perpetuate that. We have a vast quantity of Christians who want to be under a New Covenant relationship. Finally we have a very, very few who know anything at all about what this word Mystery means. All four are in existence right now.
All four were in existence from the time of the apostle Paul’s writing of Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians. All four of these will also be in evidence at the beginning of the Millennium. They all will be there.
The one thing that will be emphasized by God will be the Old Covenant. Then it will probably blend into the New Covenant. This is what everybody is leading up to, the final revelation of God is the Mystery. Once that is understood, the totality of the universe will reach out and embrace this. Or, rather, God will embrace them so they will embrace Him under this Mystery.
How long will the Old Covenant be performed in the Millennium? I do not know. Clearly they will be brought back in.
Most of us have looked at the Old Testament and the New and we have seen how holy days and sabbaths will be brought back in. It has been stated that because of that, why not keep them now? How many times have I myself told people that before I knew better (and it makes good sense)? Why not keep them now if they will be reintroduced in the Millennium? Now, I will come right back and say, yes, and the sin offerings will come back too, why do we not do them now? Also circumcision is coming back in, why not do that too? There must be some kind of a line drawn, but the Old Covenant will likely last for at least a 7 year period, but it will be in existence with these other things too.
The Mystery is pristine Christianity, in which God does not need any type of covenant relationship with His children. The only relationship He has is Father to son, Father to daughter. That is the only relationship. That is given without any covenants at all. That is by far the best.
[NOTE: Dr. Martin further developed this concept of the status of believers and unbelievers still further. For more information on this topic, see the last chapter of The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine).] See also the article on the ASK website: "Just Who Are You?"
Ernest L. Martin, 1979
Transcribed and edited by David Sielaff, 2002
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