A NEW PEOPLE - A NEW COVENANT
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 (RSV): “31 Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Covenant means agreement, like a contract. The approaching New Covenant would include God writing His word upon people’s hearts. All would know Him because He would forgive their iniquities, not even bringing their iniquities to mind ever again. This is what God agreed to do. These same words are quoted in Hebrews 8:
- Hebrews 8:6-13 (ESV): “6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them (The people were at fault.) when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember (bring to mind) their sins no more.” 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
The problem regarding the Old Covenant wasn’t the Covenant itself, but the people. The people were at fault because their flesh was weak in keeping the Covenant. So, God repaired the problem. He established the New Covenant where the people remain holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). Regarding these people under the New Covenant, God never brings their sins to mind to be held against them. Notice that this record says that this New Covenant consists of what God will do and requires NOTHING from the people. This makes the first covenant obsolete.
To emphasize the importance of this New Covenant these same verses are quoted again in part in Hebrews 10:
- Hebrews 10:16,17 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."
We live in what the Bible calls the last days. According to the prophet Joel, God would pour out His Spirit upon all of His people during these days in which we live:
- Acts 2:16-21 (ESV) “16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
This New Covenant commenced on the Day of Pentecost (fifty days after the resurrection of Christ Jesus):
- Acts 2:1-4 (RSV): “1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
From the verses above we easily see that the Day of Pentecost initiated a New Covenant and a new people. Prior to the day of Pentecost, only certain people had holy spirit upon them, temporarily, under certain conditions. The "gift" of holy spirit was first made available on the day of Pentecost (which is eternally and unconditionally in every member of the body of Christ), which began a new time (the age of grace - the period of time between the day of Pentecost and Christ's return) in which even the young and the lowly servants would prophesy [this is in reference to holding forth a message from God - "forthtelling", not foretelling the future]. This was the day that the twelve Apostles and the other followers of Jesus were waiting for (those who waited in Jerusalem for the ten days after Jesus' ascension into heaven until the day of Pentecost had "fully come"), not only because they knew of the prophecy of Joel, but also because Jesus had spoken to them of a great time to come in which the promised spirit, the spirit of truth, would come and guide them into “all the truth.”
- John 16:12-13 (RSV) "12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When (This a word referring to time) the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
Joel and others prophesied about this coming new age. The Day of Pentecost was this same long awaited day, when God’s spirit would be poured out to all flesh (Acts 2:16-18). This was truly the start of a new people.
There were also prophecies made saying that the Gentiles (ethnos in the Greek - people of other ethnic groups and/or nations outside of Israel) would be blessed; however it was never inferred in the Old Testament that the Gentiles would or could be equally blessed with God’s chosen people. But this is exactly what God made available. Not only did He make a New Covenant which ushered in the age of grace, He also made a new people, the family of God, to which anyone who believes on Christ could belong. God made a new people out of the nation of Israel and of all the other nations. This new group is called the Church of God, the Body of Christ.
- Ephesians 2:11-22 (GWV): “11 Remember that once you (the other nations) were not Jewish (of Israel) physically. Those who called themselves "the circumcised" because of what they had done to their bodies called you "the uncircumcised." (the other nations) 12 Also, at that time you were without Christ. You were excluded from citizenship in Israel, and the pledges God made in his promise were foreign to you. You had no hope and were in the world without God. 13 But now through Christ Jesus you, who were once far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 So he is our peace. In his body he has made Jewish and non–Jewish people one by breaking down the wall of hostility that kept them apart. 15 He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses’ Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non–Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself (in Christ). So he made peace. 16 He also brought them back to God in one body by his cross, on which he killed the hostility. 17 He came with the Good News of peace for you who were far away (the other nations) and for those who were near (the nation of Israel). 18 So Jewish and non–Jewish people can go to the Father in one Spirit. 19 That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family. 20 You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. 21 In him all the parts of the building fit together and grow into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 Through him you, also, are being built in the Spirit together with others into a place where God lives.”
All people, whether those of Israel or those of the other nations, who believe on Christ are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is now a new group of people who walk in newness (a new kind) of life (Romans 6:4).
- Galatians 3:26-29 (RSV): “26 for in Christ Jesus you are all (all means all – anyone who believes on the Christ) sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Since this is now a new group of people who didn’t previously exist, it can also accurately be called a new race of people. Christians are a new race of spirit-filled people, an all-in-Christ (spiritual reality - our position) / Christ-in-all (renewed mind - our condition), new creation.
Jesus Christ is the “firstborn” of those raised from the dead. Jesus was raised to eternal life. He was the “firstborn from the dead” to never die again:
- Romans 8:29 (EMTV): “Because whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers [and sisters].”
- Colossians 1:18 (EMTV) “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
“Firstborn” infers that others will follow. Who are those who have also been raised from the dead by a new kind of birth to a new kind of life as was the Christ?
- Ephesians 2:5-6 (ESV): “5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ––by grace you have been saved–– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Peter 1:23 (EMTV): “having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
When a person believes on Jesus as the Christ (Romans 4:23-25, 10:9-10, Acts 2:38) he is born from the dead like Christ. Birth begins new life. Referring to this second birth the scriptures say we were “born again,” made alive together with Christ. As a result we are…
- 1 Peter 2:9 (EMTV): “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellent virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
We are now a chosen race, a people for God’s own possession. This shouldn’t produce a haughtiness in us, but instead, a sense of humility and awe. Have you or I done anything which would cause God to so immensely bless us? What could we have done to draw God’s favor to this degree, that God would have His Son endure such a brutal punishment and death in our behalf? NOTHING! God’s favor and blessings aren’t given because they are deserved, but because they are needed.
- Romans 5:6-11 (ESV): “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person––though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
God saw us in our state of being “ungodly,” “sinners” and His “enemies.” God then had compassion on us. This is why Jesus Christ died for us.
In summary we see that our Heavenly Father has made a new people. He has given a New Covenant for this age of grace in which we live. The terms of this New Covenant are revealed in the church epistles written by the Apostle Paul. Those who believe what God reveals pertaining to His Son Jesus Christ are the Body of Christ. The young and old, the mature and immature, even the lowest of our social status can now be one in Christ. God shall reveal things to both the young and old. All can speak for God and hear from God. Oh, the grace that God has given unto people because of His great love wherewith He loved us. Now, we are all partakers in God's love and grace, together as His family, blessed far beyond our realization in this age of grace, forevermore His sons and daughters:
- Romans 8:17a: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ"