The New Covenant

Written by Frank Jamerson.

About three hundred years after the nation of Israel divided, Jeremiah prophesied that the day would come when God would “make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31). We want to notice some of the new things about that covenant.

 It was “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” (v. 32). The covenant He made with them when He brought them out of Egypt was  put in “the ark of the covenant” (1 Kgs. 8:21). “There was nothing in the ark  except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt” (2 Chron. 5:10), therefore the law that was going to be changed, included the ten commandments. That does not mean that none of those commandments, or that none of the other teachings found in the Old Covenant would not be part of the New Covenant, but it is a different Covenant. The first was dedicated with the blood of animals (Ex. 24:7,8), but the New Covenant was dedicated with the blood of Christ (Mt. 26:28; Heb. 9:15-23).

The New Covenant was to be written in their hearts (Jer. 31:33). This contrasts the Old, which was written on stone, and in a book (Heb. 9:19,20), with the spiritual nature of the New Covenant. The Old was enforced by physical punishment and was temporary, but the New is spiritual and is permanent. This does not mean that the New was not written in a book. It was given by inspiration (Eph. 3:3-5) and is called Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16). We receive it in our hearts from reading or hearing the things that have been written, and being motivated because of the spiritual blessings promised.

     The New Covenant applies to each individual. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them, says the Lord...” (Jer. 31:34). Under the Old Covenant, children were born into the family of God and then had to be taught His word. Under the New, we must be taught before we enter the family. The gospel is God’s power of salvation to “everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). This New Covenant was first delivered to the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2), but it was given to Gentiles also (Acts 10). Jesus said, “preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15,16). One of the differences between the Old and New Covenants, is that under the New, men must be taught before they can enter God’s family. Infants are in a safe condition. They have no sin and therefore do not need to believe and be baptized to be saved.

The final contrast is seen in the last half of verse 34, where God, through Jeremiah said, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Under the Old Covenant, animals were offered for sin, but “it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). Under the New Covenant, Paul said, “Therefore let it be know to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38,39). This does not mean that none who lived and died under the first Covenant will not be saved, but it does mean that they could not be saved without the blood of Christ. “And for this cause He is the Mediator fo the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). Under the Old Covenant, given at Sinai, they had conditional forgiveness (it was contingent upon Christ making the final payment for sin); under the New Covenant we have genuine forgiveness, because the price has been paid.

The Old Covenant is called “the ministry of death,” “the ministry of condemnation,” or “the Old Testament” and although it was glorious when it was given, it has passed away and a more glorious system has been revealed (2 Cor. 3:6-11).

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