Three: What is the New Covenant?
Have you been told that we are no longer under the old covenant, so the Old Testament no longer applies to your Christian walk? By wrongly believing that we are living under the terms of the New Covenant, many disregard a good share of God’s instructions for our lives as found in Torah. (Torah means “law” and refers to the five book of Moses - Genesis through Deuteronomy). Yet when looking at the wording of the new covenant, you’ll find that it is all future tense, and that the events that define the new covenant have not yet occurred.
Look at key phrases of Hebrews 8:8-12 (parentheses mine): Behold, the days come (future tense), saith the Lord, when I will (future tense) make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (notice there is NO covenant outside of the children of Israel): For this is the covenant that I will (future tense) make with the house of Israel (again, not with the Gentiles or a new group called Christians) after those days (future tense), saith the Lord; I will (future tense) put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts (God’s laws are the central focus in the new covenant): and I will (future tense) be to them a God, and they shall (future tense) be to me a people: And they shall not (future tense) teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall (future tense) know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will (future tense) be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I (future tense) remember no more.
The apostle Paul quoted these words from Jeremiah, yet when he wrote them it was well after the resurrection. If Paul believed and taught that the new covenant was now in effect, would he not have said things like “now that those days have come…” and “God has now…”, etc? Look at each of the events that define this new covenant. None of them have yet occurred.
1. “I will put my law in their mind and write them in their hearts” (vs 10). Not only does this make it absolutely clear that God’s law is not done away with when the new covenant does take effect, but it is quite evident in our world today that God’s law is not in the hearts of everyone. Otherwise, there would be no murder, theft, lies, or the breaking of any other commandment.
2. “All shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (vs 11). If Yeshua taught and believed the new covenant took effect with his death and resurrection, then why, forty days later, did he give the “Great Commission” just as he was about to ascend to heaven? Commanding his disciples to go into all nations teaching about him would have been unnecessary had the New Covenant already been in effect. And if this is in effect today, why do we still send out missionaries? Do all know him today? No.
3. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (vs 12). Do you believe that God will no longer remember any sins you commit today? Don’t stake your eternal salvation on the answer to this question being “no”. Repentance is as necessary today as it was before the cross because our sins are still remembered.
Nothing in this New Covenant description gives any indication that the time of the new covenant will occur prior to the second coming of Yeshua. At that time, those of us blessed enough to be part of the new earth will all know him, we will have his law in our hearts so that we will never sin again, and our sins from the old earth he will remember no more. But that hasn’t happened yet.
So the obvious conclusion is that we are still under the first covenant. The only change is that instead of offering the blood of bulls as a sin sacrifice, we claim the blood of Yeshua. It is only those who accept His sacrifice on their behalf who receive forgiveness of sins. Those who don’t accept His sacrifice have no part of forgiveness. Clearly a need for sin sacrifice still remains. Those who try to throw out any of God’s laws under the guise of now being under a new covenant need to rethink their theology.
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