The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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Themes Archive

 
The New Covenant
 
     The night before his death, Jesus Christ spoke these words: “And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20, ASV). Many of us may not know what means this Covenant and which was the purpose of the utterance of these words. During this subject, with God’s Word help, we will try to offer an answer for a deeper understanding.

     First of all, we must understand what a covenant means?

     A covenant is a necessary arrangement or a promise to do or not to do a particular thing. Jehovah’s judgment to do a particular thing is a covenant without conditions or unilaterally. If Jehovah gives His Word of His promise, He commits no condition to carry out this decision. He say: “I have purposed, I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:11). “My Word it shall accomplish that which I please.” (Isaiah 55:11). A covenant did by Jehovah with one or more of His creatures is a mutual arrangement to accomplish particular things. Jehovah God has always fulfilled His part of covenant. (Deuteronomy 7:9). Those who are engaged in a covenant with Him have the same responsibility, in order to honor the terms of this arrangement.
     The first Passover celebrated by Israelites in Egypt more than 3500 years ago was the beginning of such arrangement or the beginning of the Mosaic Law covenant with the nation of Israel. The lamb’s blood splashed upon the doorways of the Israelite homes was what validated that covenant and put it in force between Jehovah God and his chosen people. Hence the Law covenant directed, in writing, that the passover memorial should be celebrated each year on its anniversary date that is Nissan 14. (Lev. 23:4-8; Num. 9:1-5; 28:16; Deut. 16:1-8.
     In like manner the new memorial supper which Jesus set up that last valid passover night with the use of unleavened bread and wine pointed to the beginning of the new covenant, and for that reason Jesus brought up the subject, saying respecting the cup of wine which he passed on to them: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:20, ASV). According to the apostle Matthew’s account Jesus said: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins." (Matt. 26:28, ASV).
     Jesus’ statement, "This is my blood of the covenant", quoted almost word for word what the prophet Moses said when acting as mediator and inaugurating the Law covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai in the third month after Israel left Egypt. We read: "And Moses came and told the people all the words of Jehovah, and all the ordinances: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which Jehovah hath spoken will we do. … And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT which Jehovah hath made with you concerning all these words." (Ex. 24:3-8, ASV) With that splashing of the blood of the sacrificial victims upon the scroll of the Law, representing Jehovah God, and upon the people, His covenant of the Law was formally inaugurated. It took the blood of sacrificial victims and the sprinkling of their blood to do this.
     In like manner it took the actual death of Jesus Christ and the spilling of his blood sacrificially for the new covenant to be made on earth and then be ratified up in heaven. The means for putting the new covenant into force or validating it is the blood of the perfect man Jesus Christ. So the. new arrangement could not go into effect when Jesus passed around the memorial cup of wine, but only when he died bleeding upon the torture stake, in the midst of this world, symbolized by Egypt. (Rev. 11:8).
     Again note, please, that the apostle Paul says that because Jesus Christ offered his own lifeblood to purge the believers from a consciousness of sin and dead works "he is the mediator of a new covenant". (Heb. 9:15, ASV). In the ancient type the mediator Moses did not die in order to establish the Law covenant between Jehovah God and Israel, but Moses was represented in the passover lamb, and so the passover lamb was slain for him in Egypt. Had Moses died in Egypt instead of the passover lamb so as to put the Law covenant in force upon Israel, he would not have been able to mediate the Law covenant at Mount Sinai, for God’s time to resurrect the dead was not then due. Hence animals were substituted to die instead of Moses. But in the case of the new arrangement, its Mediator, Christ Jesus, actually did die as the covenant-victim in order to put the new covenant into effect. By his sacrificial death he became the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" and he was foreshadowed by the passover lamb in Egypt. (John 1:29,36). In the case of Jesus, Jehovah God offset the effect of his human death by resurrecting him from the dead, not again as a man, but as an immortal spirit Son of God more highly exalted than before he came to earth and became man. Had God raised him from the dead as a man Jesus would have continued forever in his humiliation. He would have been taking back his sacrifice and thus would have no sacrificial merit to present to God so as to secure the benefits of the new covenant for his believing disciples. Hence, when raised from death as an incorruptible spirit, he could ascend with the merit of his human sacrifice into God’s presence and could continue on with mediating the new covenant with its better promises.

     What is the purpose of the new covenant which is brought into existence over the costly sacrifice of the perfect man Jesus Christ?

     This can be better understood when we clear up what the purpose of the old Law covenant was, as made with the natural Israelites through the mediator Moses. When Jehovah God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He established a covenant with them as people. It was the covenant of the Law delivered through Moses as mediator. The purpose of God was to take out from this world a people to be His own possession bearing his holy name, and to prepare them to be a kingdom of priests with benefits resulting to the rest of the nations of the earth. The Law covenant indeed separated the Israelites from the rest of the nations, but only their faithfully obeying the Law would lead to their having a part in the purpose of God as his "holy nation", enjoying his favors, blessings and protection.
     However, the Law covenant itself did not produce such a "holy nation" that was ready for the promised Messiah when he came, namely, Christ Jesus. A new covenant was necessary to produce this, and through Jeremiah Jehovah declared that the reason for making a new covenant was that the Israelites broke the old one. It showed them all up as sinners, and, by means of the law which they failed to keep, it pointed out to them their sins in detail. By means of this law they should have become very conscious of the fact that they were sinners by birth, unable to save themselves by self-righteousness, and that they needed Jehovah’s promised Messiah as their Deliverer. Moses may have led them out of Egypt, but he failed to deliver them from their sinfulness and their bondage to imperfection.
     That Law arrangement was made with a special, separated nation by means of a mediator. But where the old failed, the new covenant succeeds. Its purpose corresponds with that of the old arrangement, namely, to take out from among all nations of mankind a special people for God’s particular possession, to be outstandingly a holy nation to him, and to compose a royal priesthood in his special service. It is with this new nation that the new covenant is made, namely, with spiritual Israel. Hence the new covenant is for the purpose of benefiting the members of the "body of Christ", over whom Jesus the Mediator is the Head. It benefits the 144,000 faithful imitators of him, the ones called to be joint-heirs with him in the kingdom, to be "priests of God and of Christ". (Rev. 20:4,6).
     Only the old Law covenant was made with the earthly nation of "Israel after the flesh". The new covenant is made with the new nation, which is a spiritual nation that eventually becomes heavenly at God’s right hand. The old covenant was made with the fleshly seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the new is made with the spiritual seed of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, because these are joined with the Son of God, the Greater Isaac, namely, Christ Jesus. This new covenant was added to the Abrahamic Promise, but not in order to produce transgressions and to show up the spiritual Israelites as sinners, as was the case with the Law arrangement. No; but this new arrangement is to take away their sins. It represents the special blessing of the Abrahamic covenant for the taking away of the sins of the new nation, "the holy nation," who, together with Christ Jesus, make up the complete seed of Abraham, through whom the believers of all nations are to be blessed in the millennium.
     To these the "better promises" apply, namely: “ I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more." (Jer. 31:33,34, ASV) This divine forgiveness of their iniquity and this divine remembrance of their sin no more is because sin is really taken away by the better sacrifice which the perfect Mediator of the new covenant offered and in which those in the new covenant continually exercise faith. That is why Jesus said: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out FOR MANY UNTO REMISSIONS OF SINS." (Matt. 26:28, ASV).
     Today the modern-time "strangers in Israel", or consecrated people of good-will, are not in this new covenant. Yet they do know and feel the blessed effects of it, due to their personal association with the remnant of spiritual Israel. At the annual Memorial celebrations they do not partake of the emblems of bread and wine, because they are not ’ministers of the new covenant’. But their abstention from the emblems manifests their Theocratic obedience to Jehovah’s arrangements. To obey, rather than to be presumptuous, works out an everlasting blessing for them.
     The present multitude of consecrated good-will persons associated with the remnant of spiritual Israel hope in a precious assurance written in God’s Word. What? That they will survive along with the remnant right on through the battle of Armageddon into the new world of "new heavens and a new earth". Then during the thousand years to follow God’s "holy nation" and "royal priesthood", which He has taken out of this world by means of the new covenant mediated by Christ Jesus, will reign as heavenly kings over mankind, including those brought forth from the dead because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Furthermore, as priests under their High Priest Christ Jesus, they will administer to all believing and obedient ones on earth the lasting benefits of his sacrifice, that these faithful men and women may gain eternal life on earth in the perfect human likeness and image of God.