Was The Old Covenant A Free Will Covenant Or An Election – Predestination Covenant?
Posted by Job on October 4, 2008
Arminian (or free will) Christians regard the new covenant to be based on a free will choice of salvation; that people choose Jesus Christ. I wonder: is there evidence that the old covenant was one of free will? For instance, did Israel choose God, or did God choose Israel? Did God choose the priests (who had to come from the line of Levi) or did the priests choose their occupation? Did God choose the kings (first Saul and then David and his line) or did they take the initiative?
Of course, the old covenant is different from the new covenant. But saying that where the new covenant is one of grace where the other was a covenant of works is at best an oversimplication. Grace was always present in the old covenant. What great works did Moses do to deserve his calling to lead Israel? Commit murder and then run away? What great works did Israel do to deserve being placed under the Sinai covenant? Rebel, disobey, and provoke God over and over again in the desert? And what great works did Israel to do remain in the covenant? Israel disobeyed from the very beginning. They did not drive the Canaanites out of the land, and you saw the dark wicked period of Judges, plus there was the continual idolatry and wickedness that continued until Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and Babylonians. As a matter of fact, the entire tribe of Dan NEVER served God, but went after syncretism from the very beginning. That is why the tribe of Dan is not mentioned among the 144,000 in Revelation 7; they were replaced by Manasseh. So Israel never received a thing under the old covenant by works, because their works were wicked.
Jesus Christ made the point to the Pharisees and scribes in the gospel that in their zealotry over the failure of people to keep rules and regulations, they were ignoring the weightier matters of the law such as MERCY. Paul moreover made the point in Romans and Galatians that the works of the law never justified, sanctified, or sealed anyone. It was all by grace.
And then there was the Jonah incident. Where was free will in that story? God compelled Jonah to go to Ninevah, and the conflict was merely Jonah’s submitting to God’s sovereign will. There was also the child of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14, whom God declared as His remnant from the house of Jeroboam and slew before Jeroboam could corrupt him into wickedness.
So, those searching for evidence of free will decisions for YHWH in the old covenant are basically limited to the queen of Sheba, and that is inconclusive at best. So if we have two covenants from the same God, both apply to the children of Abraham, both are of grace, then how can one be a covenant of free will decisions and another a decision of corporate election and predestination?