IF: A word that defines the Old Testament

One of the most prominent and significant words in the Old Testament is the conditional word, “IF.” The word occurs frequently in the Torah as the Law is expounded to the people, warning them that curses will surely come with disobedience and that the LORD will only bless IF you listen to His voice. It is painfully obvious that the LORD will only bless IF certain conditions are met.

Psalm 81:8 – “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, IF you would listen to Me!”

:10 – “I, the LORD, am your God. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

In Psalm 81:14-16 a host of magnificent promises follow as the LORD declares what He will do IF . . .

81:13     IF My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!”

In many ways, this word defines the old covenant. IF you meet these conditions . . . IF you obey the LORD, THEN you will be blessed. But this small word (IF) created an impossibly large obstacle, because the “IF” of the old covenant established a condition that had to be met and Israel consistently failed to satisfy the condition. The old covenant was a covenant of works focused on the condition of obedience. IF you obey the LORD you will be blessed. But the other edge of that sword was just as sharp . . . IF you do not obey the LORD, you will be cursed. You must meet the condition to be blessed. Under the old covenant you were always having to meet the condition of “IF.” Huge sections of the Old Testament are devoted to declaring the IF conditions of the Law. (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy)

By contrast the new covenant in Christ is a covenant of certainties, a covenant in which the promises are already guaranteed to those who believe and in which our hope is sure and steadfast, anchored by Christ. IF you believe in the Lord Jesus, all the promises are yours, for Christ has accomplished your salvation.

The IF of the old covenant is vanquished by the cross.    SDG   rmb   7/15/2016

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