The New Covenant
Please begin by reading Galatians Chapter 3 in which Paul gives a full account of the Old and New Covenants.
When we think about the Old Covenant, we tend to focus on the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses on His mountain. However, when Jesus introduced the New Covenant it did not point back to that event, but to a much earlier Covenant made by God with Abraham. The coming of this New Covenant is prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
In Galatians 3:8 Paul says, ‘And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” In John 8:56 Jesus says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” (NIV)
Commentators argue that the essential ingredients of the Gospel are to be found in the Abrahamic Covenant:- Election, Promise, Faith, The Shedding of Blood, Inheritance, Assurance Can you make the parallels?
Paul teaches that the coming of the law did not negate God’s Promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:17) and that the Covenant made with Moses “came in alongside” the Covenant made with Abraham (v.19). He emphasizes all this in v.25, “Now faith has come we are no longer under supervision of the law.”
In Hebrews 9:13-16 the writer uses the Greek word, diatheke, which is translated as ‘Covenant’ or ‘Promise’ in our English bibles. The meaning and exact translation of this word has caused controversy between Bible Scholars down the ages. It appears several times in Hebrews, but sparsely in the rest of the New Testament. However, it is most generally believed that the nearest translation of ‘diatheke’ is ‘will and testament’. The writer in Hebrews explains that a will and testament is activated only after the death of the person who made it. In Hebrews 9:11-12 we see that the blood of Jesus gives us eternal redemption. In verses 13-14 the blood of Jesus gives us daily cleansing. In verse 15 he writes about the eternal inheritance we shall receive through the blood. R.T.Kendall, whose teaching I value greatly, sums up this passage thus, “Salvation is one thing, reward or inheritance is another.”
There is only one place to end our study. Jesus is celebrating Passover with His disciples. ‘Likewise, he also took the cup after supper saying, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which is shed for you.”’ (Luke 22:20) (see also Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24).
Jeremiah’s prophesy was fulfilled and the Covenant with Abraham was completed. Jesus would shed His blood and He would do this to seal the New Covenant, and with that came the promise of forgiveness for my sins and yours.
As I finish writing this, it is almost Good Friday and the amazing story of the sacrifice and victory of Easter will be celebrated by Christians across the world. I pray that as you read this, the cost and reality of the New Covenant may once again grip you and bring you to a place of awe, wonder and re-commitment.
Prayer: Father, help us this Easter to see again the immensity of the cost of our salvation and to commit ourselves anew to love you and to express that love in the lives we lead day by day. Amen