The Light of the Covenant
by Dr. Mickey Carter
Dr. Mickey Carter is pastor emeritus at Landmark Baptist Church in Haines City, Florida and founder of Landmark Baptist College.
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:4-7)
You understand the importance of light. There would be no life on earth if it can’t get some light. If you are trying to kill weeds, just put a piece of black plastic over them, shut out the sunlight, and they’ll die. We recognize that, don’t we? It takes light to sustain physical life. Man-made light like we have in here, we take it for granted. You’ve been down there on the tip of Florida where Edison’s winter place is and you’ve seen that old light bulb.
Do you know, Edison is a good testimony to us in one way? He tried and tried and tried to invent the light bulb. Finally, after many times he failed, his assistant said to him, “Mr. Edison, let’s quit. We just can’t do it.”
He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thank God he kept going. We understand a little bit about artificial light and lasers today.
I remember when we were doing some surveying for a lot where we were going to build a building. I went out there to help the guy hold the tape and he said, “I don’t need that, Preacher.” He set up this little tripod, put a little telescope looking thing on it and shot a bead down there. He said, “That’s accurate.” I didn’t understand it. I don’t understand laser surgery. I don’t understand much of that stuff, but the truth is, all of that comes from light.
Here’s an interesting quality of light? Do you understand you can’t make light crooked? Do you know you can take a piece of pipe and look through it, if it’s straight you’ll see light on the other end? If it’s got a crook in it, the light stops. A beam of light will only travel in a straight path. A lot of Baptist preachers need to learn that, where they don’t get crooked. You can’t make the light cheat. It’s going to run straight. There are a lot of good things you can say about the light, and the Bible is full of those truths.
Of course, I can’t run through all the verses tonight, but the Bible says much about light and darkness. We know Jesus is the Light of the world. We know as a church, we are to reflect His light. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” As a church, we are to reflect His light. As a Christian, we should each reflect the light of Christ. You understand the moon doesn’t have any light of it’s own. It’s a reflector. It reflects the sunlight.
You and I are to reflect the Son-light as a church, and as individual believers. Do you know what causes an eclipse? When the world, this planet Earth, gets between the sun and the moon. Do you know what causes our testimony to grow dim and black out? It happens when the world gets in between us and the Lord? So as we think a little bit about it, we are a reflector to reflect the light of God.
We are in a dark day. I don’t want to spend any time on that. We’ve even come to the place that the President says, “Don’t call terrorism, terrorism. Don’t call them enemy combatants. Don’t make anybody think that we might be at war with Islam.” I got news for you. They are at war with us, and we’d better wake up to that.
It’s a dark day. In Washington D.C., everything seems to be having its way, even Nancy Pelosi. She is having her way now. By the way, I discovered how to get out of financial trouble. I told my wife, “We’re not making the budget this week. Go charge some more on credit.” I didn’t know that before. I always thought you were supposed to cut back and not spend, but now you just spend your way out of debt, the government has discovered. Nancy Pelosi is having her way up there, not completely. I did hear the other day that she was really mad because they had made a postage stamp with her picture on it. She was mad at the postal department because people were complaining it wouldn’t stick to the envelope. They checked it out. There was nothing wrong with the paper or the stickum on the stamp. The trouble was people were spitting on the wrong side of it.
We know the verse, John 3:19. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” We recognize it’s a dark hour, a dark time in our country, but you know, the Jews were always aware that the Messiah had to do with light. I mean in the Holy of Holies there was no artificial light. There was not even the candlestick inside the Holy of Holies. What was the light? The light was the light of God. The Shekinah glory of God was in there. They understood that.
Ezekiel saw, if you read chapter 10 and 11 of the book of Ezekiel, he saw when the Shekinah glory, the Holy Spirit of God, left the Temple area and He went up over the Mount of Olives and I want to tell you what the fulfillment of that really was. On Palm Sunday when Jesus came in and they rejected Him, and He left the
Temple and went across the Kidron Valley up on Mount Olivet and He sat and looked down at Jerusalem and He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37-38) He was professing to be the Spirit of God leaving, having been rejected by the Jews, and that’s exactly who He was. He was God. He was the glory of God.
The truth is the Jews knew a lot about this. They actually celebrated on their holy feast days. They’d light the Sabbath candles. The Catholics didn’t start the candle lighting. The Jews did. That represented the light. They had two feast days in particular, two celebration days, that had to do with light. That was the Sukkot and Hanukkah. Hanukkah is around our Christmas time, close to it. Hanukkah is the festival of lights. Hanukkah comes from the time that Antiochus IV Epiphanes had come in and desecrated the temple. The family of Maccabees got together and had run him off and won the war enough against Syria that they were able to come in and cleanse the temple and try to restore the worship. In so doing they had to get the candelabra going again.
Remember the candlestick. The middle pipe in the candlestick is Jesus. Read it in Revelation 1, He’s in the midst of the candlesticks. There are three arms on this side and three arms on that side and there is the pipe in the middle. The oil comes through the one pipe and feeds out to the others. I want to say something to our churches and to you and I. We need to realize that if we don’t have Him in the midst, we don’t have any power. We don’t have any oil. We don’t have any light unless Jesus is where He is supposed to be. They are in their feast of Hanukkah. When they took over they only found enough of the consecrated oil, special oil, to burn the candlestick for one day. They wanted it to burn for eight days in the ceremony. They needed eight days to purify ceremonially another oil to operate the candlestick. So the miracle was that God took an oil that should have lasted only one day and He made it last eight. So Hanukkah today, the festival of lights, is commemorating the time that God worked a miracle and that’s one of the latest feast days or ceremonial days of the Jews, so they knew something about the light.
At the end of the Sabbath, they had a separation service in which they used a big candle. Go with me to the book of Habakkuk. How many of you have seen these cartoons that the kids watch on TV? By the way, you’d better watch it, parents. There is some filth and evil going on there. That TV babysitting your kids, that twig is going to get bent the wrong way if you are not careful. You see all these super hero characters on the cartoons. They’ve got beams coming out of their eyes. They got light beams coming out of their hands. It’s the craziest looking stuff to me. When I was a kid, Batman was good enough for me, maybe a little bit of Superman, but all this junk now, I can’t handle it.
Habakkuk 3:3 says, “God came from Teman,...” That’s just a direction--south. “...and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.” Look at verses 4-5. “And his brightness...” This is the Lord Jesus now. It’s dealing with the return, the Millennial Reign, when He comes back in His glory. “...was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.” The horns are talking about points of light. It’s saying that the Lord Jesus, when He comes back in His brightness, Revelation 19 tells us His eyes are like a flaming fire. He’s got light beams. He’s got brightness.
Paul described to the church of Thessalonica how Jesus would come back and destroy the antichrist with the brightness of His coming. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” (II Thessalonians 2:7-8) He’s not coming back as ‘lowly Jesus meek and mild’ to die on a cross. He’s coming back a little bit angry, I think. He’s coming back in judgment. He’s coming back to take the kingdoms of this world over and the whole theme of the Bible is about who gets the kingdom. Adam lost it in the garden. Satan tried to get Jesus to bow down to him on the mount of temptation, but Jesus is the One, Psalms 2, that is going to sit on the throne of Zion’s holy hill. He’s the Lord’s Christ, and the kingdoms of this world are going to become God’s kingdom, that is Christ’s, the book of Revelation says. The Jews understood the Messiah had to do with light. He’s coming back in the brightness of His coming.
This light, though, was long predicted and you and I have a covenant with this light. How many of you understand that a covenant is a contract? They are about to destroy the contract now with the Constitution of America, but you understand that a covenant with God, in a sense, is a contract that God made with us.
How many of you ever watched some of the old black and white westerns? They made a lot more sense than movies do today. You always knew who the good guys were. You always knew good was going to end up as the winner. How many of you understand that the theme of those old westerns and the theme of the old movies and books all came from the Bible?
Here is what I’m saying. How many of you ever remember watching the Durango Kid, Three Musketeers, maybe Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, some were a little wimpy compared to some of these other guys. I’m talking about the tough guys. Most of the time they rode a white horse. In the end after they had rescued the ranch and saved the damsel in distress. You understand what I’m saying about the theme. At the end when they’d start to ride out of town, that white horse would rear up and they’d take their hat off and wave it around -- victory. Where did they get that? Did you ever read Revelation 19 where the Hero is coming back on a white horse? He’s going to put evil down. He’s going to win. He’s the Champion. That’s right out of the Bible.
The light was long predicted. In those westerns, sometimes cowboys and Indians, you would see a blood covenant made. You’d see a knife, an Indian maybe, a cowboy might, they’d give their hand and they would cut each one and then they would put their hands together, blood covenant, blood brothers. A covenant deals with cutting, something being cut. You remember that, don’t you? You say, “What is a preacher doing with a knife?” Don’t worry. I’ve got a big one at home.
There is a passage I want you to look at with me. Go to the book of Genesis, a bit of an obscure passage, Genesis 15, and I want you to understand something. I hope you do. If I go over to Galatians 3 I could show you where you and I are blessed because of the covenant that God made with Abraham. In Galatians 3 you’d discover that we are blessed as the seed of Abraham. “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:17-18) Now the last verse of the chapter says this: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” When we are using the word promise, we are talking about a covenant that God made with Abraham.
Let’s look at this promise, this covenant. Genesis 15:1 says, “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Abraham was like you and I. He had to question some. In verses 7-8 God said, “And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” Go on down through the passage. He tells Abraham to take some animals for sacrifice. Verse 10, “And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another:...” Verses 12-13 says, “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;” Verses 15-18, “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:”
By the way, in the long run, the Jews are going to take exactly the boundaries that God gave them. That’s not my point. I want to explain to you a little bit what took place here between God and Abraham. Here is the way it was done. The heifer, for instance, was brought and Abraham had to split the heifer down the back. Do you understand that a lot of times people quote the Bible and they don’t know what they are quoting? Do you understand that many of these sayings have hung over through the years? Did you fellas ever say in jesting, “I’ll split you wide open”? That’s what he did to those animals. He split them. He divided them. He laid them out on the ground. He had to fight the birds off of them, but God said, “I’m making a covenant.” What did he do when he split the animals? He cut them. There was a cutting that went on. In I John chapter one, watch the word blood, walk, and fellowship. That’s what is taking place here as God prepares a covenant with Abraham. This is an object lesson God gives. Understand God is doing something here. He is teaching Abraham.
I need just a little bit of help here to demonstrate this. Give me two young men. I’m going to let you pretend you are the sacrifice, that you are the animals and that you’ve been split down the middle. Here is what I want you to do. I want you to lay down on the carpet. You lay down right here. I’ve got two halves laying here. These are the sacrifices. They are laying on the ground. They’ve been split open. God is making a covenant now with Abram. He is fixing to teach him something here. So he has them laying on the ground. God is making a deal with Abram. Brother David come up with me. He is one of our college graduates, pastoring a great church south of Atlanta.
Brother David, I want you to play like you are Abram. God is going to tell Abram the conditions, the requirements, the terms of this contract. He’s going to tell him that you and I are going to get in an agreement. I’m going to require certain things of you. He’s making an agreement. One of the things was He was going to give him the land that He promised. This is what he is saying. These bloody sacrifices that have been split open, divided, God is saying, “If you don’t keep your side of the agreement, judgment is going to fall on you just like it did these sacrifices.” Do you know of any secret clubs that tell you where this practice comes from? If you let our secret out, we’re going to bloody you up. We’re going to do all this bad stuff. That’s where it comes from. You’ve gone into a covenant. You shouldn’t do it, by the way. You shouldn’t belong to any secret society where you put your loyalty and your vows above God. By the way, you don’t need to belong to nothing but a local church. That’s all you need to belong to.
There is a threat that hangs over the vows. Here is Abram. I’m playing the part of God. I like that part. I’m going to make some agreements with him. What they would do is they would start to walk together. Walk beside of me, David. Come walking around. Then we go through, right between the parts. Then we come back over here and we walk around. If you notice I’m walking in a figure 8. The figure 8 is the sign still today you see scientists write on the board. That’s the sign of being infinite. Aren’t you glad your security in Christ is permanent. You’ve got total security. We are coming in a figure 8 like this.
God knows something about Abraham. He knows that Abraham is not going to be able to live up to the agreement. He is not going to be able to meet the terms. He has already lied about his wife the first time being his sister. Abraham was a sinner. You understand that, still called Abram. I’m going to say to Abram, “You lied about your sister once. You are going to do it again.” By the way, he did do it again. Some of you think the heathen don’t know much, but they know more than you think. King Abimelech accused Abraham of getting him in trouble by not telling him the truth that Sarah was his wife. Do you know what the heathen said? He knew it was wrong to have another man’s wife. That is more than a lot of Baptists know today.
So you know what? God realizes, ‘I’ve got a problem with Abram. He’s not going to be able to keep the terms. He’s not going to be able to keep the covenant. He is a sinner.’ So you know what He did with Abram? God puts him to sleep. The darkness comes. Abraham goes to sleep. He’s out of it. Then God brings in a Substitute. In the text, the burning furnace is the light. Who does the light represent? The Lord Jesus Christ. Abraham is laying over here asleep, but the Light takes his place.
The Lord Jesus took our place. That’s the covenant of grace. I couldn’t keep it. I would break it. I would sin. I would fail, but the Light, the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, my Substitute, will never fail. He took my place and He represents me. We can walk in a figure eight all night long because I’m represented by the Light that will never sin, never fail whatsoever. It’s infinite and that’s what the figure eight is telling you. It’s going on forever. I’m secure forever. Do you understand when we read in I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I’m glad I had the Light to take my place, because I discovered a long time ago that I couldn’t keep the terms. I would fail. I would sin again.
They tell us that true light is indestructible. If the north star were to go out, the light that it has already put out would keep shining through the universe eternally. I don’t know that by my own observation, but I do know One that is eternal light. I do know One whose light will never go out. I know the Lord Jesus and His light will never be destroyed. You think about it. It got dark at Eden. Our first parents were there -- Adam and Eve. You know the sin came in and I believe the sky got dark. I believe the wind began to howl and the animals began to not fellowship but to chase each other. Sin had entered in. No wonder Adam and Eve ran and hid in the bushes. They recognized something bad had happened.
In the darkness, I believe, God came in the cool of the day. As God came, a light began to break because He said to the serpent there in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Do you know what God was saying? He was saying, “I’m going to bring a light. I’m going to bring the seed, the seed of the woman,” and a light is going to break and it did break. As time went on though, it began to get dark in the days of Noah, and what I believe were supernatural beings, fallen angels, whatever. You say, “I don’t believe that.” You have a right to your opinion, no matter how ridiculous it is. They came and co-habited with the women and produced the giants.
By the way, Scofield’s notes refer to the godly and the ungodly line. But there is no such thing as a godly line. Rahab the harlot was in the Messianic line of Jesus. What you have in the Bible is the Messianic line, but there is no such thing as a godly line. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” None can walk the covenant with God.
You know in the days of Noah it got dark. God looked down and saw the sin of man and the imagination of man’s heart was only evil from his youth up. God said that it repented Me that I made man. I’m going to destroy them. He brought the flood. It’s dark, but a light began to shine. The Scripture says when He looked at Noah, he found grace. Do you know what that covenant is? Grace. The Light took our place. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and it said that Noah was perfect in his generations, not perfect as a man. In fact, he later got drunk. (If I had been in a building program for 120 years, I might have gotten drunk, too.) Noah wasn’t perfect, but perfect in his generation.
You don’t need Greek for this. In your English, the word generations has got the word gene in it. It’s your genes. Somebody got better genes than others because of mom and dad. We got a President now that wants to mess with stem cells from aborted babies and mess with genes and genetic engineering. That’s a bunch of junk bringing God’s judgment. Noah, his gene tree was not polluted by the fallen angels. God preserved and started over with Noah, but He had to drown out that wild bunch that came in that produced the giants. I’m simply saying to you it got dark, but then the light began to shine. God saved eight souls with that ark. The light began to shine.
Things began to move on a little bit and after he got off the ark, God told them to scatter abroad, but just like they are doing today they said, “Let’s go global.” They went to build the tower of Babel to make themselves a name. Do you know what is behind the G20 meeting we just saw in the news? Do you know what is behind all this business? Globalism. That’s what is behind it. America’s sovereignty is being sold out.
It was dark at the Tower of Babel. It was pretty dark for a long time. You follow it on up and I read you where God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. God begins to prepare light. He begins to take a man. He begins to use his seed and He begins to bring to light. Abraham doesn’t have any children. He doesn’t have any heirs. Then I see a little light shining called Isaac, the promise of old age, and God brings light again. You go on up through the Old Testament and you find out you’ve got good kings and bad ones. Israel goes up with worshipping God and goes down with its idol worship. If you made a graph and checked it all the way through the Old Testament, it would be like this. Israel is up; Israel is down. Israel is blessed; Israel is judged, all the way though the Old Testament. Sometime the light is on; sometime the light is off.
At one time, you can read it in II Kings 11, all the royal seed, the Messianic seed, the seed promised in
Genesis 3:15, has been eliminated by the queen mother, the evil woman. All of them, the royal seed has been killed, but wait a minute. One nurse is hid back in a bed chamber with one little baby named Joash. At the right time, the priests bring out this baby and the soldiers come in and stand guard around him in the temple and they declare him king. Do you know when he began to reign as king? In his seventh year.
Do you know when Jesus is fixing to reign and bring back the kingdom, be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords? He’s coming back on the Sabbath rest, on the seven thousand year mark. He’s going to set up His kingdom on planet earth. Types in the Bible do tell you something, pictured ahead of time many times. Joash and the light begins to shine again. He puts down the idols and you know the story. The light begins to shine, and yet Israel messes up again. When you get to the end of the Old Testament in the book of Malachi what happens? They won’t even shut the door to the house of God without getting paid for it. Remember that? They bring the lame to God and offer it to Him for an offering. Remember that? It got dark at the end of the Old Testament.
There are 400 silent years, they tell us, between Malachi and Matthew, darkness, no priest, no preacher, no light, but then as you get into Matthew, some wise men are looking up at the sky. They see a light, a star. They follow the light and they find the Christ child. Herod hears about it and the darkness comes in as he slays all the babies and Rachel weeps as was predicted, but he misses One. That One guided by God has gone down and been hidden in Egypt. By the time Herod is dead, something is happening on the streets of Jerusalem, Capernaum, and Nazareth. The lame are being healed. The blind are seeing. The lame are walking. A light is beginning to shine. Jesus, the Messiah, has shown up and the light is shining again.
Things go on for a while, but you know He was falsely accused, how He was taken to the cross. What happened when He hung on the cross? It turned dark, didn’t it? I mean the Roman centurion and others said, “He’s dead.” Even His own disciples said, “He’s dead.” Hope could hear no angel’s voice. He was dead. Darkness. They said, “He’s the Son of God,” but it looks like death and darkness have won. They take His body and you know the story, put Him in the tomb. It’s dark. As it begins to dawn toward the first day of the week, the light begins to break and the tomb is empty, and the light begins to shine. It’s been shining ever since, and will for ever.
God’s promise, Jesus, the Light of the World.