The New Covenant-Part 1
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©2002|
|The New Covenant is another significant biblical covenant which will determine important issues related to Israel and the future Kingdom of God. According to the Old Testament, the parties to this covenant are God and the nation of Israel. Dr. Showers explains some of the implications.|
The Parties of the New Covenant According to the Old Testament
Previous articles have examined the Abrahamic, Palestinian or Deuteronomic, and Davidic Covenants and their implications. Another significant biblical covenant which will determine important issues related to Israel and the future Kingdom of God is the New Covenant. According to the Old Testament, the parties of this covenant are God and the nation of Israel.
Three things in the Old Testament indicated that God would establish the New Covenant with the people of Israel. First, the Old Testament made clear statements to that effect. For example, Jeremiah 31:31 states, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” Similar clear statements were made in Isaiah 59:20-21; Jeremiah 50:4-5; Ezekiel 34:25-30, and 37:21-28.
Second, God declared that He would establish the New Covenant with the descendants of those people with whom He established the Mosaic Covenant (the Law). Having promised that He would establish a new covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah, God stated, “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” (Jeremiah 31:32). Since God gave the Mosaic Law only to the people of Israel (Leviticus 26:46: Deuteronomy 4:8) and not to the Gentiles (Romans 2:14), and since He promised to establish the New Covenant with the descendants of those to whom He gave the Mosaic Law Covenant, then the New Covenant must also be established with the people of Israel, the physical descendants of Jacob.
Third, the Old Testament associated the establishment of the New Covenant with the endless existence of the nation of Israel (the physical descendants of Jacob) and with the rebuilding and permanent standing of the city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 31:31-40).
In light of these three items in the Old Testament, it is evident that God intended to establish the New Covenant with the literal people of Israel.
The Promises of the New Covenant
God promised many things to the people of Israel in the New Covenant.
First, He promised regeneration. This would involve the giving of a new heart (a new inner control center where the issues and direction of life are determined) and the new nature (a new favorable disposition toward God consisting of the law of God in the heart)(Jeremiah 31:33; 32:39-40; Ezekiel 36:26).
Second, God promised forgiveness of sin (Jeremiah 31:34; Ezekiel 36:25). Third, He pledged the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27). Fourth, He guaranteed a universal knowledge of Jehovah among the people of Israel (Jeremiah 31:34). The context of this fourth promise indicated that God was referring to a personal experiential knowledge of Himself (the kind of knowledge which comes through a genuine salvation experience), not just a head knowledge of His existence. Fifth, God promised that Israel would obey Him and have a right attitude toward Him forever (Jeremiah 32:39-40; Ezekiel 36:27; 37:23-24).
Sixth, God promised many national blessings to the people of Israel. He pledged thatHis Spirit and words would never depart from them (Isaiah 59:21), that the nation would have a great reputation because of God’s special blessing (Isaiah 61:8-9), that Israel would have a unique relationship with Him as His special people (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:28), that God would do them good (Jeremiah 32:40-42), that wild beasts would be eliminated from their land (Ezekiel 34:25, 28), that Israel would enjoy complete security in its land (Ezekiel 34:25-28), that the nation would receive no more threats and insults from other nations (Ezekiel 34:28-29), that great abundance of food would eliminate famine (Ezekiel 34:27, 29; 36:29-30), that Israel’s land would be so luxurious that it would have the reputation of being like the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 34:29; 36:34-35), that rainfall would be controlled perfectly (Ezekiel 34:26), that Israel’s cities would be rebuilt and inhabited (Ezekiel 36:33), that the nation would enjoy a population explosion (Ezekiel 36:37-38; 37:26), that the nation would be completely unified (Ezekiel 37:21-22), that the people of Israel would live in their own land forever (Ezekiel 37:25), that once again God would have His sanctuary in Israel and would dwell in the midst of the nation forever (Ezekiel 37:26- 28), and that God would never turn away from the people of Israel (Jeremiah 32:40).
It should be noted that some of the promises of the New Covenant were purely spiritual in nature, but others were material and national in nature.
The Nature of the New Covenant
Two things can be said concerning the nature of the New Covenant. First, God intended it to be an unconditional covenant. God stated no conditions in the passages which deal with the covenant. This meant that the fulfillment of the promises of the New Covenant would not depend upon the obedience of Israel. In fact, God indicated that He would fulfill the New Covenant’s promises, not because Israel would deserve it, but because of Israel’s disobedience. In Ezekiel 36:22 God declared, “Therefore, say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD: I do not do this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the nations, to which ye went.”
In addition, in the New Covenant God promised that He would cause the people of Israel to have a right attitude toward Him and to obey Him (Jeremiah 32:39-40; Ezekiel 36:27; 37:23-24). Thus, instead of the New Covenant being dependent upon Israel’s obedience for its fulfillment, it would cause Israel’s obedience.
When God presented the promises of the New Covenant, instead of stating conditions for Israel, He continually said, “I will” (Jeremiah 31:31-34; 32:37-42; Ezekiel 36:24-37). This meant that the fulfillment of the promises of the New Covenant would be dependent totally upon God’s faithfulness to His word. God emphasized this fact when He said, “I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 36:36).
The second thing that can be said concerning the nature of the New Covenant is that God intended it to be an everlasting covenant. He specifically declared it to be everlasting in nature (Isaiah 61:8-9; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 16:60; 37:26). The fact that God intended the New Covenant to be everlasting, together with the fact it would be unconditional in nature, meant that the New Covenant would never be abolished or annulled with or by Israel. Once it would be established, its promises would have to be fulfilled. Once Israel would enter into that covenant relationship with God, it would continue in that relationship forever.
For a comparison of Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology obtain the following book: Renald E. Showers, There Really Is A Difference! (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Telephone: 800-257-7843. Mailing address: P.O. Box 908, Bellmawr, NJ 08099).