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The New Covenant, Part 2

  

There is now a schedule for new blog posts, with a different writer each day of the week.  From this point on I will be posting once a week, on Mondays.  Today I will finish the article I started, and continue with another one next week. (Please note I added another passage of Scripture to Part 1 which I had missed before.)

In Part 1, we looked at the prophecies of a New Covenant which God promised to make with His people.  The Book of Hebrews quotes the Old Testament references to it, in which God promised to write His law in His people’s hearts, and pour out His Spirit upon them, so they would walk in His ways.  It would be at a time when Israel is restored to their land, and the Day of the Lord comes with signs in the heavens.  This identifies the time of the New Covenant as the Age to Come when Messiah would come in judgment. There is coming a day when God will bring these things to pass, and then His will shall be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Yet we are told that the New Covenant was ratified by the blood of Jesus. At the Last Supper, when he instituted Communion for a remembrance of what he would accomplish, he said it was the blood of the New Testament, or New Covenant. He stated the purpose of the New Covenant a few verses later, in Luke 22:29, when he said, “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The word for “appoint” is diatithemai, which is a verb form of diatheke, the word for “Covenant.” He was literally saying, “I make a covenant with you to give you a kingdom, as my Father has made a covenant with me.” The whole purpose of the New Covenant was to offer his followers a place in the Kingdom. That is why Jesus shed his blood.

The New Covenant which Jesus ratified with his blood was for the purpose of redeeming the sins of mankind, so that “they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). The payment for sins was more than just a way for us not to feel guilty in this life. It was the “price of admission” into that future Kingdom, which we could not pay on our own.

A major characteristic of the Kingdom in the Age to Come, according to the Prophets, is that God would put His Words in His people’s hearts, and pour out His Spirit upon them, and all would know God, from the least to the greatest. This is necessary because only those who are righteous can dwell in God’s tabernacle (Psalm 15:1-2).  Obviously that has not happened yet. “All” do not know God the way Jeremiah said they would. Neither has Israel been restored to their land, nor has Jesus established his Kingdom or begun to reign and subdue the kingdoms of the world. These are all things that will happen in the future.

Yet the prophecy in Joel is specifically cited in Acts 2:16ff, when the outpouring of the holy spirit on Pentecost took place. It couldn’t be a complete fulfillment of that prophecy, since it refers to signs in the heavens, the sun being darkened and the moon turned to blood, etc., and we haven’t seen those things come to pass.  Some have suggested that when Peter said “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” it actually means “This is like that…” But there is nothing in the Greek to indicate such a meaning. The prophecy from Joel is specifically identified with the outpouring of the holy spirit on Pentecost, after Jesus had ratified the New Covenant with his blood.

We saw in Mysteries of the Kingdom that the New Testament references to Psalm 110:1 (“Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”) imply an interim phase before the Kingdom is inaugurated. Similarly, the quote of that verse in Hebrews 10 which we examined (in Part 1) shows there is a period of time between the ratifying of the New Covenant with Jesus’ blood, and the fulfillment of it at his return.

The terms of the New Covenant are offered to the world now, and anyone can enter into it. When they do they receive certain benefits, but the complete fulfillment of the Covenant will not be realized until Jesus returns. It can be compared with being added to someone’s will, but not yet receiving the inheritance. James refers to being “heirs” of the Kingdom which God has promised (James 2:5) which means we stand to inherit it in the future. But while we have a “calling” and an “election” we do not inherit it until an entrance into the Kingdom is ministered to us (II Peter 1:10-11). However, there is a foretaste, or a “down payment” in the meantime.

Joel said that the outpouring would be in “the last days,” according to Acts 2:17. This phrase does not only refer to the time immediately before the return of Christ. Hebrews 1:2 refers to “these last days” and I John 2:18 tells us that it is “the last time.” Following thousands of years of promising the Messiah, the last days began when he finally came. We are now in a time when many (though not all) of the prophecies have been fulfilled, and the King has been identified. The Kingdom is being announced as the good news is proclaimed, and the people of the Kingdom are being prepared for their coming co-reign with Christ. The New Covenant has been ratified, and the holy spirit is said to be an “earnest,” or a foretaste, of the inheritance to come.

Ephesians 1:
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

II Corinthians 1:
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

II Corinthians 5:
5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

The holy spirit is called the “earnest” of our inheritance. It literally means a “token” or a “pledge” – that is, a “down payment” of that which will be poured out when Christ returns.  We have been purchased with Christ’s blood, but the “redemption of the purchased possession” is yet to come, although we have a token of it now.  Hebrews 6:4-5 says that those who are enlightened “have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world [aion, age] to come.” The holy spirit we have now is a token, a foretaste (limited because we are still mortal and imperfect), of God’s promise to pour out His Spirit and to put His Word into His people’s hearts in the Age to Come.

This explains why, when Jesus told his disciples they would receive the holy spirit “not many days hence” in Acts 1, they replied in the next verse, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” It was a logical question considering the prophecies of the outpouring of God’s holy spirit that would characterize the coming age of Messiah’s reign. Jesus had been talking about things pertaining to the Kingdom of God for forty days by then (verse 3). Notice he did not correct the notion that the Kingdom was coming, just the timing of it. He stated that it was not for them to know the times or the seasons, and yet they would receive power that would enable them to be ministers of the Gospel, “unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”

With the New Covenant, a number of things changed regarding what is expected of us. Physical circumcision has been replaced by a circumcision of the heart, the rest of the Sabbath is replaced by the rest we can enter every day, and we now offer “spiritual sacrifices” instead of animals (see the article Law or Grace). The Church is said to be the Temple of God, in place of the physical temple. Yet nowhere in Paul’s explanation of these things does he ever say that the nature of the Kingdom of God has changed from a literal, physical kingdom to a spiritual one. The promise to Abraham included land; and the Law, which was 430 years afterward (Galatians 3:17) did not change that. The Old and New Covenants are both within the larger overall scope of God’s covenant with Abraham, and His plan to bring about His Kingdom on earth.

Because of the holy spirit, we are said to be “new creatures” (II Corinthians 5:17) and are encouraged to walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul describes in Romans 7 the problem of trying to do God’s will while having sinful flesh. The answer, according to Romans 8, is to walk by the spirit. We can walk according to that token of the holy spirit we have been given, in a limited way. But it goes on to speak about the glory that we have to look forward to.

Romans 8:
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Hebrews 2:8 says that God has put all things in subjection under Jesus’ feet, but adds that “…now we see not yet all things put under him.” Because we don’t yet see it, some have doubted that he is truly God’s Messiah. A day is coming, though, when every eye shall see him and everyone shall recognize his authority. While we don’t yet see the world transformed by the pouring out of God’s spirit, each of us as individuals can experience such a transformation in a personal way, as a foretaste of what is to come, and will be completely transformed when we are raised from the dead at the return of Christ. It is this individual regeneration and transformation by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that characterizes the current period of preparation for the coming Kingdom of God.

3 Responses to “The New Covenant, Part 2”

  1. on 13 Oct 2009 at 12:13 pmrobert

    I am not going to argue over the Sabbath but am going to provide some articles that goes over the facts that dispute what you wrote in your article.
    I know we have debated this, but it was you that brought it up in your article so my response is related to this thread

    http://www.sabbath-day.net/

    http://www.oneinmessiah.net/confess.htm

  2. on 15 Oct 2009 at 2:32 pmKen

    This is a good summary of what it means to have the fortaste of the spirit while still having a real struggle to walk by the spirit (due to our fleshly weaknesses.) We have wonderful understanding and solutions provided for the present challenges and at the same time wonderful hope for that which is to come.

  3. on 24 Feb 2010 at 7:06 amJoseph

    Great article I found on the New Covenant….

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/erik-adoniqam/exegesis-jer3131-34-and-the-new-covenant/349735615468

    Many believe that the New Covenant (NC) is has already begun and is in full-swing effect these days. Is this the case?
    Jeremiah says this:

    Jer 31:31 Lo, days are coming, an affirmation of Jehovah, And I will make *with the house of Israel* And with *the house of Judah* a **new covenant**,
    Jer 31:32 **Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers**, In the day of My laying hold on their hand, To bring them out of the land of Egypt, In that they made void My covenant, And I ruled over them–an affirmation of Jehovah.
    Jer 31:33 For this is the covenant that I make, **With the house of Israel**, after those days, An affirmation of Jehovah, I have given **My law in their inward part**, And on their heart I do write it, And **I have been to them for God, And they are to me for a people**.
    Jer 31:34 And **they will not teach any more Each his neighbour, and each his brother, Saying, Know ye Jehovah, For they will all know Me**, from their least unto their greatest, An affirmation of Jehovah; For I pardon their iniquity, And of their sin I make mention no more.

    What to take note of:

    a) v. 31 tells us that this is a covenant to the two kingdoms, it says nothing directly about gentiles.

    b) The covenant is called חדשה meaning most typically something that is “brand new” and when functioning in the verb-piel stem it means to make “new” or “to renew”. But beings the word is functioning as an adjective here it simply means a “new” covenant.
    As a side note, the Dead Sea sect (the Yahad) understood the new covenant to be something that is renewed, probably based upon exegesis.

    c) V.32 tells us that this isn’t the same covenant that was made with their fathers.

    d)V.33 specifically describes the covenant’s stipulations upon the people of the house of Israel aka Ephraim. These are the scattered ten tribes of the north.

    e) V.33 says that ADONAI’s Torah will be inside of the people of the House of Israel.It will be written upon their hearts. Being pagan and assimilating, they were carried away to forever lose out on the Torah. And because only a select few were into proselytizing they couldn’t be a light to the nations where Ephraim has been scattered. So Yeshua and his emissaries were the men to do the job.
    **Side Note**: Notice that when the text speaks about the *TORAH* it ONLY mention Ephraim. Why? Simple. Because Judah never stopped keeping Torah! Judah is still a people, and Judah still have ADONAI to them as GOD. It was Ephraim that needed all of these reparations.

    f) Regarding Ephraim (The house of Israel) V.33 says “they shall be to Me as a people” and “I will be to them for GOD”. They weren’t to the Holy One as a people, nor was He their GOD. These were they which were exiled by the Assyrians and these were they which Yeshua came to restore (Matthew 10:6; 15:24; John 11:49-54). These are the seed of Ephraim that would be the “multitude of the nations” (Gen 48:19) because they were scattered and mingled into the nations. Through them Abraham’s blessing of GOD would become literally true(Gen. 22:18), and through Yeshua’s message reaching them it would become spiritually true as well (Gal. 3:16).

    *g)* THIS IS PERHAPS THE MOST OBVIOUS POINT:
    they will not teach any more Each his neighbour, and each his brother, Saying, Know ye Jehovah, For they will all know Me.
    That clearly has not happened yet. That is only fulfilled at the time when the knowledge of GOD completely covers the earth (Rev. 14:6-7; Isa. 11:8-10) and the Torah goes forth from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:1-5).

    The above point “G” is clearly unfulfilled at this point in time and therefore the New Covenant is not at it’s fulness. I believe that it was implemented but hasn’t reached ful fruition yet, just like the promise of GOD the Holy land to Father Abraham that hasn’t been fulfilled yet. Though both were already implement they haven’t reached fulfillment yet.

    How do we know that Yeshua implemented the NC?
    Mat 26:28-29
    [28] For this is *My blood of the New Covenant* which concerning many is being POURED OUT for remission of sins.
    [29] But I say to you, I will not at all drink of this fruit of the vine after this until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of My Father.

    Also see – Mat. 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1Co. 11:25; 2Co. 3:6; Heb. 8:8; 9:15; 12:24;

    When Yeshua’s blood was poured out, the NC began. And that was the time that the atonement of Yeshua to us began.
    But more is still to be fulfilled, even the passover of which Yeshua was to us still hasn’t reached complete fulfillment yet:

    Luk 22:15-16
    [15] And He said to them, With desire I desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering.
    [16] For I say to you that I will not eat of it UNTIL when *it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God*.

    Lastly, it isn’t until the *fulness of the Gentiles (nations)** that Israel (the people of Judah) will recognize Yeshua as the Messiah (Rom. 11:25).
    The fullness of the gentiles is called a mystery by Paul. It wasn’t just a phrase that he made up either. So what is it? It is the regathering of Ephraim from all of the nations by the belief of One GOD again. The term “fullness of the Gentiles” IS THE EXACT SAME PHRASE THAT IS USED BY JACOB WHEN HE BLESSES EPHRAIM and says to Joseph:

    [Gen. 48:19] howbeit his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become **the fullness of the nations (Gentiles)**.’

    So when Ephraim who is not a people per se and his Gentile neighbors, returns to the Torah and/or GOD this will provoke Israel (the house of Judah) to jealousy (Rom. 10-11).

  

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