The New Covenant

the new covenant

A little boy was waiting for his mother to come out of the grocery store.
As he waited, he was approached by a man who asked, “Son, can you tell me where the post office is?”
The little boy replied, “Sure, just go straight down the street a couple of blocks and turn to your right.”
The man thanked the boy kindly and said, “I’m the new pastor in town, and I’d like for you to come to church on Sunday. If you come, I’ll show you the way to God’s Kingdom.”
The little boy replied with a chuckle, “Awww, come on; you don’t even know the way to the post office!”

When a promise is made to you, you expect it to be kept unless there’s a slight misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the little boy didn’t understand what the pastor meant since the pastor’s words were not clear enough to him. Kids have a natural tendency to take the words of adults literally.

We, as God’s children, ought to understand the promises of our heavenly Father. And we can take them literally when we discover that God never fails to keep his Word. This is especially true when it comes to the promises God has made through his covenants to mankind.

But what is a covenant, anyway? One resource says that covenant (Hebrew berit, in O. T.; and Greek, diatheke, N.T.) is “the idea of two or more parties bound together,” (Bible Study Tools). For example, the marriage bond is a covenant between a man and woman that is to be kept “’til death do us part,” (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Cor. 7:39). There are other covenants or treaties made between personal competitors (Gen. 26:26-33), kings (1 Kings 5:12); and even close friends (1 Sam. 20:3, 16-17).

But the most important covenants in the Bible are the ones God made to faithful persons such as Noah (Gen. 6:18; Heb. 11:7), Abraham and his sons, Isaac, and Jacob and his descendants (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:1-8, 21; 22:9-19; 26:2-5; 28:13-15; Exodus 2:23-25; Heb. 11:8-10), and King David (2 Sam. 7:8-17; 1 Chron. 17:7-15; 2 Chron. 6:16; Heb. 11:32).

These covenants are prophetic—that is, they are promises based on the future. God’s rainbow in the sky was a sign to Noah and his family that, in the future, there would never again be a worldwide flood like the one that they just survived (Gen. 9:8-17). For Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his sons, God’s covenant was about inheriting the land promised to them as an everlasting possession and that their descendants (Israel) would be a blessing to the nations of the earth. God’s covenant with David, King of Israel, is that he “…promised David, an eternal seed, an eternal throne, and an eternal kingdom. His seed would rule over the kingdom of Israel forever. This kingly covenant was confirmed and repeated to Solomon, David’s son (1 Chron. 22:8-10; 2 Chron. 7:17-18),” (Dr. Alva Huffer, Systematic Theology). God will never break his covenant that he made to David (Jer. 33:20, 21).

The fact that God’s covenants are based on the future is important in many aspects. Brown-Driver-Briggs refers to the meaning of it as, “a prophetic covenant, a divine covenant through a series of prophets to establish a new constitution with new institutions and precepts.” For example, the Old Covenant was the law given to Israel by God through Moses (Jer. 31:32). Israel broke the first covenant by disobeying God and following after idols (Ex. 19; Jeremiah 9:12-16). So God established a New Covenant. In the New covenant, Israel will have a change of heart, for God says, “I will be their God and they shall be my People.” Those from the least to the greatest will know him, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,” declares the Lord (Jer. 31:33-34).

We know from the Bible that God always keeps his covenants. Like the old hymn says, “God’s promises are sure.” But, as we know from Israel’s failures to obey God’s law, humans tend to break their end of the promise. The Good News is, however, God has initiated a New Covenant that is literally written in blood and is to be fulfilled for ever by his grace.

The Book of Hebrews talks about this New Covenant put into effect through Jesus Christ who is “also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises,” (Heb. 8:6). What makes this covenant better than the old one is the blood that Jesus shed for our sin. The blood of animals that was required in the Old Covenant was only a foreshadow of what was to come—that is, the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross for our redemption and salvation (Heb. 9:11-28). During the scene of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus referred to “the fruit of the vine (cup)” which represented his blood he was about to shed on the cross: “And when he had taken a cup, and given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank from it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many,’” (Mark 14:23-24). The sacrificial blood of Jesus was the purchase price not only for our forgiveness of sins, but the guarantee that those who are in Christ have the hope of entering the Kingdom of God when he comes again. Jesus added, “Truly I say to you, I shall never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God,” (v. 25).

The New Covenant, therefore, is God’s promise not only to Israel (Heb. 8:8-10), but to the Church, as well, since God’s Son is the person who will fulfill it (Heb. 9:15). The writer of Hebrews is referring to believers in Christ when he says, “for us”: “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God FOR US…” (9:24). Jesus is now our mediator of the New Covenant (Testament) acting as our “go-between” interceding as our High Priest before God. But a day will come when Jesus will appear from heaven to complete God’s New Covenant plan for his people: “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of man, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await him,” (v. 28).

What a wonderful promise! God’s New Covenant applies to all those getting ready in anticipation for his Son’s glorious return. It’s for all those “who eagerly await him” to come again. It begs the question each one of us must ask: Am I eagerly preparing for him to come whether it be today or any day of my life?

We can trust that God will keep his New Covenant for he will fulfill all his promises proclaimed as the  “yes!” and “amen!” to his glory (2 Cor. 1:20). Here’s Chris Tomlin singing, “Yes and Amen!”

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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