Old Covenant Promises in The New

Was Jesus poor, sick, or vulnerable? Are God’s people supposed to be poor, sick, and vulnerable? All of those are blessings in Deuteronomy chapters 7, and 28 are God’s promises to his people of good health, victory against enemies, protection from disaster, and multiples on top of multiples of livestock, crops, and children.

Promises to the Israelites through Abraham are extended to the Gentiles in the new covenant (Gal 3:15-28). That should include all the blessings of good health, protection, and wealth that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had while sojourning in Canaan and any blessing for the Israelites in the promised land since that was given to them because of God’s promise to Abraham. God makes it clear they were not blessed because they were a powerful nation, in fact, he said they were smaller than all the Canaanite nations (Deut 7:7-15) nor because of their own righteousness, and they were far from righteous (Deut 9:4-6), but rather because of his promise to Abraham. In order to receive these blessings the Israelites had to keep the covenant, if they broke the covenant by living in sin, they would get the curse which was the opposite of the blessing (Deut 11:26-28).

Jesus said “blessed are the poor in spirit” in Matt 5:3, not blessed are the poor. The phrase “in spirit” indicates that this was about humility, not financial status. Poverty itself is a part of the curse, not the blessing (Deut 28:16-19). Since Jesus was an Israelite and kept all of the law, so he would have had the maximum potential of the blessing. This means he would have never gotten sick and could not be killed unless he gave himself up (John 10:17-18). The Jewish leaders and mobs of people tried to kill him multiple times but he always escaped by passing through people, disappearing, or the guards being pacified (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59, John 10:31). That also means he would have had plenty of wealth, but he didn’t squander it all on himself. We see evidence of his wealth when the soldiers are gambling over his clothing (Luke 23:34). Jesus had a treasurer managing his money (John 12:6), although he (Judas) turned out to be a thief and backstabber.

Good health is included so believers should expect to be healed when they ask God for healing. God is compassionate and Jesus heals people out of compassion (Ps 145:8, Ex 34:5-7, Matt 20:29-34, Mark 1:40-41, Mark 5:6-19). In 1 Peter 2:24, Peter quotes Isaiah 53:5 when he says, “By His stripes, you are healed”. Mark 16:16-18 says the signs that will be with believers include healing (from laying on of hands), deliverances from demons, supernatural protection from poison, and even snakes. The Apostles laid hands on the sick and they were healed (Acts 3:1-11, 5:12-16, 8:4-8, 14:8-9, 19:11-12, 28:7-10), as well as exorcised demons (Acts 5:16, 16:16-18). Healing in James 5:14-16 also included repentance and forgiveness, since sickness can be the result of sin. God promised through the prophet Isaiah that, “no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment shall be condemned (Isaiah 54:17). When Paul was bitten by the venomous snake in Acts 28:3-6 he shook it off like it was nothing. In addition, Paul was once stoned nearly to death but miraculously recovered in Acts 14:19-20, and the same happened with a guy named Eutychus that fell from three stories high in Acts 20:9-10. Paul list all of the gifts of the holy spirit which relate to these signs in 1 Cor 12:4-11. God’s people have access to both physical, mental, and spiritual protection and healing. God can protect us just like he shielded the Israelites from the plagues of Egypt starting with the flies onward (Ex 8:21-23).

God said to the Israelites “You shall lend and not borrow” and that is about owning bonds (debts) and collecting interest. They were expecting to be made “the head and not the tail” and this can be seen as buying low and selling high. When the Israelites left Egypt they left with so much bling from reparations (Ex 3:20-22, Ex 11:1-2, Ex 12:35-36), that we’re able to melt it down and built the Tabernacle which consisted of at least 994 kg of gold, 2,407 kg of bronze, and 3,420 kg of silver (Ex 38:21-30). The Tabernacle had a wooden box (the ark), table, and altar as well as 48 wooden beams all covered in gold, plus a solid gold lampstand. Along with silver and bronze components, and coverings made of expensive Tyrian purple, plus blue and scarlet yarn. The high priest’s outfit had gold filigree and pieces with 12 kinds of precious stones. Long before Moses, Isaac was so rich King Abimelech of the Philistines, put him out of Gerar because he was afraid of his wealth (Gen 26:12-18). God blessed Isaac in the middle of famine by the way (Gen 26:1-6). In addition, God used the enslaved and imprison Joseph to save Egypt and his family from Canaan from a famine (Gen 50:20-21). Why would God promise them a land of “milk and honey”, if he wanted them to stay poor?

Of course, he wanted the Israelites not to let their wealth get to their head causing them to have idols (Deut 8:11-20). The Israelites melted that bling down and made a golden cow in Exodus 32, and God was not a fan. Jesus (Matt 6:24) and Paul (1 Timothy 6:10) remind us that loving money is a problem, however, anyone who is the following spirit instead of their flesh will use that money correctly (Matt 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27). The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the just (Prov 13:22). A believer’s goal is growing in wealth and should put making an impact on, reaching, and blessing people before anything else (Matt 25:31-46, Acts 4:32-37, James 1:27). The bible forbids charging interest to the poor (Ex 22:25-27, Lev 25:35-38, Prov 28:8). Yet, Proverbs 19:17 says those who lend to the poor, lend to God, and God will pay them back. This means God will pay their principal with interest, so they won’t have to. Proverbs 22:9 says generous people are blessed because they feed the poor. This is what Paul did when he asked his churches to help other churches. He told the Philippian church that God will supply all of their needs because of their giving in Philippians 4:15-19. 2 Cor 9:6-12 promises that God will provide for and bless his people in response to giving to those in need. In verse 7 it says not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure, but rather cheerfully and this references Deut 15:7-11 which says the same thing. Remember that God loves you and will provide for your food, clothes, and other needs, so he commands you not to worry (Matt 6:24-34).

The promises are a part of the Kingdom of Heaven and God wants his will done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:7-14). That means God’s people should be healed so that they can go where they need to go and do what needs to be done and they can share that healing by laying hands on the sick. They need protection from danger, affliction, and persecution. Lastly, they need financial resources to execute Matt 25:31-46, Acts 4:32-37, and James 1:27 by providing for those in need. The main thing holding believers back lack of faith in these promises. Cessationism theology has rejected the gifts of the spirit and the healing power of God through the laying on of hands. Meanwhile, the “poverty equals humility” teaching has shamed people for having resources which is an extremist response to the theology that focuses only on wealth usually called the “prosperity gospel”. There is a balance to all of this, believers can be healthy, wealthy, protected, and blessed, without being greedy, corrupt, or haughty.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Sickness, poverty, and danger are challenges to our faith that come from Satan because he comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He sends affliction and persecution to take the word of God away from those that hear it (Mark 4:13-17). They also can be the result of our sin (John 5:1-14, Matt 9:1-6), so we must repent as well (James 5:14-16). Satan tempts us to sin, not God (James 1:12-15), and he does this to trap us in the curse. The covenant promises are conditional (Deut 11:26-28), but God’s love is not conditional, so we trust that the way he made for us through Jesus meets the conditions. We have the option of repenting without an animal sacrifice (1 John 1:9) because of what Jesus did for us (Heb 10:1-18). Under the new covenant, we are sanctified and receive the holy spirit to help us overcome sin(1 Cor 6:9-11), and this is why Paul said that believers are “redeemed from the curse of the law” (Gal 3:8-13). Believers are no longer slaves to sin (John 8:31-36, Rom 6:6-22), so we no longer have to be trapped by the curse of the law. James 1:16-17 reminds us that God is trustworthy and that every good thing comes from God. He promises these good things because he is good and his mercury endures forever (Ps 100:5). Mark 9:23 Jesus said to a man doubting his ability to exorcise his son, “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Jesus said that when we pray with faith we will receive anything we ask (Mark 11:20-24). The power Jesus used was the holy spirit and Paul said that the same spirit that raise Christ from the dead lives in believers (Romans 8:10-11). John says “greater is he that in us than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and the “he that is in us” is God’s spirit and the “us” are believers. In Rom 8:28 Paul says all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purposes. Later in that same chapter, he says this:

Rom 8:31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[Ps 44:22]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Believers must trust that God is good and that is capable and willing to help us and be there for us. Believers must have faith in the God they claim they believe in. Paul says believers are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20) and ambassadors are not paid by the host country but rather by their home country that they represent, and believers are citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20), so heaven pays them. Our covenant includes healthcare, travel expenses, insurance, restitution for anything lost or stolen, security, and an eternal retirement plan. These are covenant promises from a God that wants to draw people away from sin and depiction and into the light (John 3:16-21).