Of late, I have been trying get a better understanding of the New covenant in Scripture, and how it relates to us in these days of the dispensation of the grace of God. We do need to be very clear, that the prophet Jeremiah wrote, as he was moved by the Holy Ghost, spoke the word of God, and the Lord said very clearly:
Jeremiah 31:31 — “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…”
Later, in the “New Testament” (we will get to that later), the Apostle Paul quotes the prophet:
Hebrews 8:8 — “For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…”
So, clearly from this, this covenant was with Israel. All the covenants belong to the Nation of Israel, according to the Word of God:
Romans 9:4 — “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises…”
We, as Gentiles, were “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). Now the Apostle goes on to write:
Ephesians 2:13 — “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Does that now mean that we are now living under the new covenant that the Lord made with the houses of Israel and Judah?
Let us read very carefully the entire passage in Jeremiah chapter 31, beginning with verse 31 through the end of the chapter:
Jeremiah 31:31 – 40 — “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: 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; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is His Name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.
Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.”
Now, as I see it, there are some things written in this that have some commonality with the spiritual blessings in heavenly places that we, as living under the dispensation of the grace of God, have in Christ; but because their are some things in common, it does not follow that it is the same, because there are things written here that have nothing to do with us.
Since we understand to whom it is that this covenant is made (it is with the house of Israel and the house of Judah), we will now look at the contents of the covenant and from this determine if any of this has to do with us living in the present day of salvation.
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
This new covenant that the Lord makes with them is articulated — “this shall be the covenant”
The Lord promises that He will put His law in the inward parts of of the house of Israel and write it on their hearts. Now, I will ask you this: has this happened? Has the law of the Lord been written on the hearts of the house of Israel?
Some might say, “no, but we, the Church, are now His New Covenant people”. Are we now? And by “the Church” what do we mean? The totality of professing Christians, a particular ecclesiastical body, or just believers? Now, the Scriptural definition of “the church which is His Body” (Ephesians 1:22 – 23) is that it is one body with one faith and one Spirit and one baptism and one Lord and one God (Ephesians 4:4 – 6). But no, it is not the “new covenant people”, and it is not ever called the house of Israel.
And more, is the Law of the Lord written on the hearts of those in the church? By this, I mean the true body of Christ, and the members of it in particular.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD…
Now I don’t know about each and every one of you reading, but I do know that I myself have to come to know the Lord through the written word, not that written on my heart, but through that which He has given to us through His word written in the Holy Scriptures. We have to study the Scriptures to know the Lord (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15).
The Apostle Paul, the able minister of the new testament (2 Corinthians 3:6) and the steward of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1), had this to say, in the later years of his ministry:
Philippians 3:8 – 10 — “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death…”
Do you see that, living a life through faith of Christ “that I may know Him”? This is his life goal and passion, not a completed fact. It was near the end of the Apostle’s walk in service to his Lord that he could say:
2 Timothy 1:12 — “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
This is not the statement of one who did not have to study to know the Lord, but of one who came to know Him through a life of studying (diligence in listening, practice, calling to mind and “chewing on”) the things of the Lord. And he, by comparison, on the spectrum of “least of them to the greatest of them”, would surely be numbered at least toward the “greatest of them” end, wouldn’t you think? And yet this covenant that the house of Israel will all know the Lord from the least of them to the greatest is not about great sainthood, but about great position. The “king to the street sweeper” will all know the Lord. That is the extent of the promise. Yet we would laugh if we could say that the least in the church to the greatest in the church know the Lord. If anyone does know the Lord, in this sense of understanding His will, His purposes, His plans, and most importantly, His Person, is one who has listened to instruction and learned from His Word.
But this promise to the house of Israel is that this instruction will not be necessary. They will all know Him. This is the answer to that statement by the Lord regarding John the Baptist:
Matthew 11:11 — “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Did John know the Lord?
Yes, in a way. But his knowledge was indeed limited. The Lord spoke this in the very context of a question that John sent with his disciples:
Matthew 11:2-3 — “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?”
At this point, John was questioning if our Lord Jesus Christ was really, well, the Christ. So in the kingdom of heaven, they will all know Him. They will not ask this question. That is why the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. They will know the Lord. This is a promise awaiting a coming day. A day that will be fulfilled. A day when the Lord will forgive their sin (this has not happened yet).
…To be continued
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.