The Covenant

The national sins of Israel culminated in her expulsion from the Land of Canaan. However, all was not lost. God foresaw her failure and determined to restore the nation by instituting His New Covenant that would include the nations of the Earth, the “Gentiles.” Moreover, the New Creation would become the ultimate Promised Land and the true inheritance of His people.

The God of Israel did not abandon His covenant with Abraham. However, He would bring its promises to fruition in unforeseen ways and through a most unexpected redeemer, Jesus of Nazareth, the true “seed” and “heir” of the Patriarch.

Elephant Island, Antarctica, Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash
[Antarctica, Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash]

Not only would Jesus “achieve the purification of sins” and thus redeem his people as their High Priest and once-for-all sacrifice, but he also would establish the long-promised New Covenant and bring about the New Creation in which man would reign alongside him when God “again introduces the firstborn into the habitable earth” - (Hebrews 1:6).

  • For not unto angels has he subjected the coming habitable earth of which we are speaking. But one somewhere has attested, saying, what is man, that You should mention him? Or the son of man, that You should put him in charge? You made him little less than the angels. With glory and honor have You crowned him and set him over the works of Your hands” - (Hebrews 2:5-9).

When Israel repented wholeheartedly, God would gather her “from among all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.” Then He would “multiply you beyond your fathers” and “circumcise your heart to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live” - (Deuteronomy 30:3-6).

Two things are of note. First, God planned to “multiply Israel beyond her forebears.” “Multiply” translates the same Hebrew verb used when God called Adam to be “fruitful and multiply,” and in God’s promise to multiply Abraham’s seed - (Genesis 1:28, 17:2).

Second, the restoration would occur when God “circumcised Israel’s heart” and inscribed His Law on it, an internal change central to the New Covenant promised in the Hebrew scriptures and connected to the Spirit - (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20).

The God of Abraham promised a restoration more glorious than anything the ancient nation ever knew when He would enable His people to fulfill the covenant by giving them a “new Spirit.” This would be nothing less than a new creative act that would impact all the nations of the Earth - (Isaiah 65:17-18, Revelation 21:1-3).

The fulfillment of these promises is accomplished through Jesus Christ. In him, the promises give way to fulfillment as God implements His New Covenant through His Son, especially the covenant promises made to the Great Patriarch, Abraham.

Jesus of Nazareth came to fulfill the “Law and the Prophets,” including the Abrahamic Covenant. The Jews who saw him experienced something “greater than Jonah,” “greater than Solomon,” “greater than David,” and greater than the Temple. God inaugurated the Kingdom of God through Christ - (Matthew 5:17-21, 12:6, 12:28, 12:41-42).

Having established the “New Covenant,” Jesus began to build his community based on “the New Covenant in my blood.” However, his Assembly would be centered on him, not on the land of Canaan or the Temple in Jerusalem, and it would include Jews and Gentiles:

  • What things God had before declared through the mouth of all the prophets…the covenant that He covenanted with your fathers, saying to Abraham, in your seed shall be blessed all the families of the Earth” - (Acts 3:24-26, Acts 10:42-43, 13:18-33).

Likewise, “All the promises of God find their ‘Yea’ and ‘Amen’ in Jesus.” He ascended on high “that he might fulfill all things.” The jurisdiction of the Torah was only for a limited time “until Christ came,” the “seed of Abraham” - (2 Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 3:24, Romans 10:4).

Jesus “confirmed the promises to the fathers so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” Thus, the fulfillment of the “blessing for the nations” in Abraham is achieved by the man from Nazareth.

  • (Romans 15:8-9) – “For I affirm Christ to have become a minister of circumcision in behalf of the truth of God, to confirm the promises of the fathers; and that the nations for mercy should glorify God, even as it is written: For this cause will I openly confess you among the nations.

Before his death, the Gentiles were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” However, through Jesus, “those who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

FULFILLMENT IN JESUS


The purpose of God from the beginning was “to sum up all things in Christ in the fullness of the times,” including the redemption of the nations - (Ephesians 1:10, 2:11-13).

When referring to the Promised Land, the Hebrew Bible employs terms like “inheritance,” “inherit,” “heir,” and “promise.” In the New Testament, the same words are applied to what God has accomplished in Jesus of Nazareth, and to the covenant community inaugurated by him, the Church, the “Assembly.” He is the “heir of Abraham” and therefore the heir of all things - (Matthew 21:38, 28:18, John 13:3, Colossians 1:12-13, 1 Peter 1:3-5).

The Gift of the Spirit confirms the status of believers as members of the Assembly. They are the “children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and coheirs with Christ.” He is Abraham’s “seed” and “heir.” As partners with him, his followers also become “heirs according to promise.” Moreover, the Gift of the Spirit is the downpayment or “earnest of our inheritance for the redemption of the possession” - (Romans 8:16-17, Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 1:13-14).

He is “the mediator of the New Covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance.” He implemented the New Covenant by becoming Abraham’s heir. Consequently, all who are “in Christ” are coheirs with him destined to receive the same inheritance - (Hebrews 9:15).

Because Israel failed to keep the original covenant, Yahweh promised to establish a new one. Thus, Jesus declared that the cup of wine offered to the Twelve Disciples symbolized “the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins.” The cup of wine represented his life that was poured out on Calvary for his people. The Apostle Paul is even more explicit: “This cup is the New Covenant in his blood” - (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, Romans 11:25-27, 1 Corinthians 11:25).

According to Paul, the apostles were “ministers of the New Covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit,” another allusion to the New Covenant in which God would write His laws in freshly circumcised hearts and grant His people His Spirit - (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 31:34, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

He became the “surety of a better covenant” and established the promised new one. Because Christ inaugurated the “New Covenant,” logically, “he made the first one obsolete” - (Hebrews 7:22, 8:6-13, 9:15, 10:16).

The bodily resurrection of Jesus was an act of new creation.  God did not simply resuscitate his corpse but instead gave him a glorious new body that was no longer subject to death and decay. Thus, his resurrection inaugurated the New Creation. However, there is an overlap between the existing age and the coming one - “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, a new creation, the old things are passed away, behold, they have become new” - (1 Corinthians 15:42-50, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The arrival of the New Creation also meant the redefinition of the boundaries of the land promised to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As Paul wrote to the churches of Rome, Abraham the Patriarch was destined to “inherit the world,” the ‘Kosmos,’ not just a tiny strip of land in the Middle East - (Romans 4:13).

Since disciples are coheirs with Jesus, they will receive their salvation in its fullness when they are resurrected and receive immortal bodies in the New Creation. At present, creation itself “sighs and travails in birth pangs” as it “ardently awaits the revelation of the sons of God.”

Beach sunrise Portugal - Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash
[Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash]

Humanity and the Universe remain subject to decay and death, including believers. However, God will reverse this when His sons receive the redemption of their bodies at the return of Jesus. He is the “beginning of the creation of God.” This refers to the New Creation that began with his Resurrection. Thus, he is “firstborn from among the dead” and “the firstborn of all creation” - (Romans 8:17-23, Colossians 1:15, Revelation 3:14, 1:5).

The New Creation is the ultimate inheritance of believers and fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham, not Palestine.  According to his promise, “We look for the New Heavens and the New Earth in which dwells righteousness.” At that time, “God will tabernacle with men, and they will be his people.” He will wipe away every tear and death will be no more, for “behold, I make all things new” - (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1-7).

Thus, the promised “New Covenant” and “New Creation” both began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, an ongoing process that will be consummated when Jesus “arrives” at the end of the age, raises the dead, overthrows the “last enemy, death,” and ushers in the “New Heavens and the New Earth” in all their glory.



RELATED POSTS:
  • His Everlasting Covenant - (Jesus inaugurated the superior New Covenant through his Death and Resurrection, rendering the old covenant obsolete – Hebrews 8:6-13)
  • One Message for All - (Jesus commanded his disciples to proclaim the Good News of his salvation and kingdom to every inhabited corner of the Earth)
  • One New Man - (By his death, Jesus formed one covenant community - One New Man - based on faith in him, not ethnicity or nationality – Ephesians 2:11-22)

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