What’s new about the new covenant?

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34

 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. – Ezekiel 36:22-27

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” – Luke 22:14-20

 

Now we have a new covenant that was prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel and in many other places in the Old Testament. This New Covenant was inaugurated by Christ at what we call the last supper. “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The realities of the New Covenant are so vast; I cannot cover it in one post. I will do a few on this topic. The outline of what follows comes from the book, Sacred Bond.

When we speak of the New Covenant, the name implies that it is new in comparison to something else. We refer to that as the Old Covenant or the covenant mediated through Moses, the ten commandments, etc. So, what is new about the new covenant?

The New Covenant is new in relation to the Mosaic Covenant, but not the Abrahamic Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant was temporary. It came to an end with the inauguration of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:4-14; Hebrews 8:6-13). The law was designed to bring us to Christ. This is not the case with the Abrahamic Covenant. The New Covenant is the fulfillment of what was promised to Abraham. Christ is “the seed of Abraham” (Galatians 3:16), and all of us who are Christ’s are also the offspring or seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). Both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant are covenants of promise, not works covenants as was the covenant with Adam and Moses.

The New Covenant is mediated by Christ rather than Moses

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Moses mediated as a servant while Christ mediates as a Son. (Hebrews 3:1-6). Jesus is our High Priest over the house of God forever, and he intercedes for us continually (Hebrews 8:1-6).

The New Covenant blesses rather than curses

The law of Moses could not make a person righteous; it could only point out our shortcomings. The conditional nature of the Mosaic covenant was tied to our ability to obey God. “Do this and be blessed,” (Deuteronomy 28:2). The New Covenant is based on “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” It is a covenant of promise and faith, not works and curses for failure.

The New Covenant provides an internal renewal by the Holy Spirit

The Old Covenant had no power to enable internal change of heart. That covenant was purely a set of laws that informed you what your conduct should be with no power mechanism to enable obedience to that standard. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the New Covenant on the life of a believer, and he produces his own fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:16-25). The is the new heart prophesied by Jeremiah.

The New Covenant focuses on the nations, not just Israel

While there were Gentiles brought into the covenant community throughout the Old Testament like Rahab the harlot in Jericho, Ruth the Moabitess, the focus of God was on one family, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which grew from being a simple family line to becoming a nation. The Mosaic covenant, with its various laws, set the people of God apart from the rest of the world, the Gentiles. The mandate of the New Covenant is to go into all the world and share the good news. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation are called to become the children of Abraham, the seed of promise in Christ. The national restriction is gone, all are called to become part of the family of God in Christ.

The New Covenant is permanent

As I think I made clear above, the Mosaic covenant was temporary; it came to an end. However, the reign of Jesus Christ as the son of David will be forever. There will be no end. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6). “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15).

What does this say to us? We have a better covenant, one that is a permanent promise, mediated by the Son of God himself, it brings blessing to the nations and gives us a heart to love God and see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Related Posts:

Covenant: The architecture of Scripture

The mother of all covenants

The first covenant in time – a covenant of works

The mother of all promises

Everybody needs a rainbow

Episode #1 The Abrahamic covenant: the promise given

Episode #2 The Abrahamic covenant: the promise confirmed

Episode #3 The Abrahamic covenant: the promise signified

The Mosaic covenant that leads to Christ

The forever covenant that created a king

How Jesus fulfilled the impossible condition to become the King

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If you would like to do more indepth reading on the concept of covenant in Scripture, I recommend this book, Sacred Bond. Click on the book and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase a copy.