...It is surprising how often the covenants in Scripture are mixed and matched by Christians
without much apparent thought as to the parties involved or the purpose for establishing them.
It is little wonder that there is such confusion as to what exactly the New Covenant (NC) is and
what its relationship is with what is now known as the Old Covenant (OC). Scripture says that
the OC law is valid but only "if one uses it properly" (1 Tim 1:8). The reason the preceding
verse says that many of those who want to be teachers of this OC law are engaging in
"meaningless talk" is that they are attempting to present that law as it was delivered to ancient
Israel and not as it should be "properly" presented under the NC by which it would then
conform "to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me" (v.11).
Examples of this extend through such contentious issues as how does the Sabbath, which is
an eternal command, relate between the OC and the NC; or are the Ten Commandments (10C)
binding upon Christians today; or should believers eat pigs; or are ministers or church
attendance really necessary now that the curtain has been opened; or I thought all I needed to
do was profess faith in Jesus and I would be saved, and now I am being told that I was under
some kind of covenant out of which God expected something from me.
Jesus confronts the human tendency to mix the attractive aspects of different ideas.
Historically, mankind is inclined to adhere to the familiarity of tradition rather than to cling to the
truth, regardless as to whether or not it is considered new or old. In the synoptic Gospels, this
issue is directly addressed by Jesus and recorded by the authors. Specifically, Jesus was
questioned about the conservative practice of fasting from which he blatantly declares the
incompatibility of different religious systems.
He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old
one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match
the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the
skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into
new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, the old is
Lu 5:36-39, Mt 9:16-17, Mk 2:21-22
The "new wineskins" reference the "New Covenant in my blood" of which Christians
memorialize and internalize every time they celebrate Communion by drinking from the cup
that represents the "new wine" in the shed blood of Christ upon the cross (Lu 22:20). The
issue is not in determining if something is new or old but in syncretizing aspects of religious
systems that were not intended to be combined. This is also not an issue regarding the
content--the wine, for when it is being poured in, it is at that moment new--but rather the
appropriateness of the "skins" at the time the new wine is ready to be contained. If one persists
in attempting to mix the two, it will "burst the skins," and everything will be "ruined."
It is natural to reply to the obvious with "Don't we know that?" but when God commands
Jeremiah to tell the people of God that "every wineskin should be filled with wine," he is
making the point that what his people have taken for granted will be for their drunken
destruction (Jer 13:12-17). They thought they understood God's decrees, as many today would
naturally claim, but when absent of transformational evidence, it is just an empty wineskin.
God's appeal is that we "hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant [thinking we know
everything], for the Lord has spoken" (v.15). It is imperative that we understand to the full the
covenant to which we are bound to our Creator.
Through the prophet Habakkuk, God curses deceivers by saying, "Woe to him who gives drink
to his neighbor, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their
naked bodies" (Hab 2:15). God pronounces a curse upon those who misuse attractive
resources for their own purposes, whether that be serving wine to others in order to lower
resistance to sin or even using the wineskins of divine covenants outside of the purposes
intended by God in what Paul denounces as "peddling the word of God for profit" (2 Cor 2:17).
Whenever modern preachers misuse the OC--let alone misuse money, violate positions of
influence, or prey upon the fears of God's children--they are at direct risk of falling under this
woe. Again, Scripture declares that even "when the old covenant is read," and the truth
revealed through the NC Gospel is "veiled," God expects that "we do not use deception, nor do
we distort the word of God" (2 Cor 3:14, 4:2).
As the following evidence shows, it is most likely that Jesus was declaring through the parable
involving wineskins that the entire OC, although holy, good, and representative of the
prophesied Messiah, would ultimately be incompatible in its original form with Jesus as
revealed in the NC.
(Taken from the opening chapter of Wineskins)
Kevin Graham, Christian Author
www.grahamAlive.com © 2010 - 2016
Wineskins: God's contract with you