The New Covenant - Part 2
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #13
June 17, 2014
Before we begin let's have a few moments of silent prayer this is to give you the opportunity to make sure you are in fellowship. Anyone who has trusted in Christ as Savior cannot lose their salvation, but when we sin we lose our fellowship with God, our rapport with God, just like when a child disobeys parents. And to recover that fellowship we confess sins. It is simply a silent prayer admitting or acknowledging a known sin to God the Father and instantly He forgives us of those sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness; even the sins we don't mention. So we always begin with a few moments of silent prayer and then I will open in prayer; let's pray.
"Our Father, we are so thankful we can come together this evening to be reminded about Your plan and purposes for human history. To be reminded of Your grace and how You have supplied everything for us in this church age; that Your grace is so magnificent that it is beyond anything that we can imagine, anything that we can fathom. We cannot comprehend its extent; it is beyond anything we could ever articulate. And Father, yet, we are its beneficiaries. And it is because of Your grace that we have eternal salvation because of what Christ did on the Cross. Now Father, as we continue our study of Your plan for the ages, we pray that you will help us to understand the issues that are brought up; that we might clearly and precisely define Your Word and divide Your Word so that we can apply it as it should be applied and as You intended it to be applied. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
XIV. New Covenant - Part 2
Okay, as I pointed out when we started this study we are going to have time for questions and answers. And there have been a couple of questions that came in last time that were good questions and they came in right at the end and so we didn't get to them. But if any questions come up tonight along the way…. So we are continuing tonight on our study of the New Covenant. This is found as the core passage, the central passage for the New Covenant, is found is Jeremiah 31:31-33 (see slide #3). As I pointed out last time, this is the only place where the New Covenant is identified as a new covenant. I didn't say that this is the only place it talks about a new covenant. Because I think that what this says about the New Covenant it said in other places about what is called the covenant of peace or an eternal covenant, but not called a new covenant. The reason I emphasize that is that one of the questions that came in had to do with this being the only place it is identified as a new covenant. The question was, doesn't it make sense that the New Covenant would only be mentioned once in the Old Testament (OT) since Christ in His first advent came to offer the kingdom to Israel, which was a real offer and if accepted no new covenant would have been needed?
No, that is a misunderstanding. The New Covenant … (Jeremiah 31:31-33) this is the only place that identifies it by name, but not the only place that talks about it. And it has nothing to do with the contingency because this is a promise to Israel that the Old Covenant, which is the Mosaic Covenant, would be replaced by the New Covenant and the New Covenant would come into effect. And as I pointed out in going through the various Scriptures that these three covenants, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant will all be inaugurated and be fully applied when the Lord Jesus Christ returns as the Messiah. We see this in this particular chart. The OT gives us promises and in the future they are fulfilled. So we have the promises in the OT made and then promises fulfilled in the future (see slide #4). Now in this addition to the chart we have God's Plan of the Ages, the OT moving from the time of the Patriarchs and the time of Moses through the Theocracy of the Judges and 1 Samuel into the Monarchy, the Exile, the Restoration, and then Christ coming followed by the Church and the Millennium.
Now in the OT we had the giving of the Abrahamic Covenant. It is summarized in Genesis 12:1-3 and also given in Genesis 15, where the sacrifice is made that is the foundation for the Covenant. The sign of the Covenant is given in Genesis 17. It is reiterated by God to Abraham; many other times to Isaac and to Jacob, and this becomes the foundation. Three points: Land, Seed, and Blessing. The Land part God promises a specific piece of real estate to Israel bounded by the River of Egypt, the Euphrates River, and the Great Sea, which would be the Mediterranean Sea. All that land God gave to Israel. Now that touches on another question that came in: first part of the question, were the full boundaries of the Land Covenant as given to Abraham meant to be established under the conquest generation? And the answer to that would be, yes; that was the intent. The reason they didn't conquer all the land that God had given them was because they began to compromise with the inhabitants. That is clear from Judges chapter one. As the conquest advanced they began to compromise on the holy war that God had called for in terms of the complete annihilation of the Canaanite inhabitants.
So that after a point they so compromised with the Canaanite inhabitants that they weren't fighting them anymore. They were intermarrying with them and it was like they advanced so far and they just didn't trust God to go the whole way. So Israel has never conquered or fully commanded, fully controlled, all of the land that God originally promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now we have the second covenant; that real estate covenant is not fulfilled until the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus returns. Then the second covenant, the Davidic Covenant, is God's promise to David that a descendant of his would eternally sit on the throne; there would be an eternal house, an eternal dynasty, and eternal throne and this is outlined in 2 Samuel 7 as we studied. And this again is fulfilled through Jesus, but not until He comes to sit on the throne of David as the Messiah, as the reigning Messiah, when He returns at the second coming. A question came in because I had mentioned David's rule over Israel in the Millennial Kingdom: Is that related to the Davidic Covenant? No, that is not spelled out in the Davidic Covenant. We don't really learn that until we get into passages in Ezekiel.
Then we have the New Covenant, which is what we are studying now, which the foundation is laid, the foundation for the New Covenant is the death of Christ on the cross, but the New Covenant, as it is laid out and its stipulations given in Scripture, does not come into effect until the Second Coming. Because the foundational sacrifice has been made, it is applied in terms of blessings in the present time, but we are not living in the time of the New Covenant; because as I pointed out in the previous class, those conditions aren't met at all today. Conditions such as, every believer is so indwelt by the Holy Spirit, in a way different from today, that there is no need for the Jews to be taught. It is primarily focused on the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Somebody pointed this out, which I thought was a great connection to make, is that in Isaiah chapter two the Gentile nations in the Millennial Kingdom come to Jerusalem to learn about God. But the Jews are told that no one will need to even teach their neighbor about God because they will all intuitively inherently know all of these things; and that all Jews are going to be saved in the Millennial Kingdom. There is none that will not trust in Jesus as their Messiah.
So that takes us up to kind of where we are, where we ended last time. One thing that I alluded to last time, but I didn't go to this passage, is in Isaiah 11:11-12 (see slide #5). Now if you have your Bible turn there. This is a key passage here, but I want to look at the context. So often it is important to examine the context surrounding these verses that I put up, because they set the stage for what is being said. In Isaiah chapter eleven, the verses preceding this, we have a focus upon the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah 11:1 says, "There shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse." Jesse was David's father. Jesse is, as it were, the Davidic house has been cut down to a stump. And out of that stump a new branch grows. And this terminology, the branch of Jesse that is used here in the second part of verse one: "A Branch shall grow out of his roots." That is a reference to the Messiah. The "rod from the stem of Jesse" is a reference to the Messiah, and Isaiah 11:2 talks about "the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him."
Again, all of this is talking about the Messiah. And then we have the characteristics of the Messianic reign. If you look at Isaiah 11:5, talking about the Messiah, this Branch that comes forth, "righteousness shall be the belt of his loins, and faithfulness the belt of his waist." Talking about that this is characteristic of the reign of the Messiah. It will be a righteous reign. Isaiah 11:6 says, "the wolf shall also dwell down with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." And so talking about this is a totally different scenario than what we have in the world today. The curse, at least as it impacts man's relation to the animal kingdom and the antagonism between animals is going to be rolled back; that is not going to be in effect during the Millennial Kingdom.
What we see here in the lead up to this sets the stage for the coming of the Millennial Kingdom in the future. And then we read in Isaiah 11:11, "Then it shall come to pass in that day". What day? The day that the Kingdom is established. "It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who were left." Key terminology, the "second time" and the "remnant." Now he says in verse eleven that this is the second time that God recovers them from, it list of several nations: "From Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush," these are located, Cush is located in North Africa. "From Elam and Shinar," that is in the lower Mesopotamian valley area. "From Hamath and the islands of the sea." That is Greece and everything to the west out pass the Mediterranean; that is covered under the general term the "islands of the sea" that is used in the Scripture.
So this is a recovery from all of these places. Now at the end of the Babylonian captivity, remember the first scattering was the northern kingdom. They are scattered all over Assyria and their scattering is so far flung that they are often referred to as the ten lost tribes. That is really a misnomer because many of the people, the Jews who lived in the northern kingdom, fled the northern kingdom, fled from Israel in the north to Judah in the south, as the Assyrians were advancing on them. So they maintained their identity; they knew who they were; and even to this day you have Jews that know that they are from one of those tribes. There were many Jews who were scattered in the Assyrian empire who probably lost their identity, but they are scattered far and wide. Jewish communities have shown up in India, in China, in all of these different areas not just in the Middle East, but toward Asia itself that are the result of these communities that never returned back to Israel.
So this is talking about a massive return. At the end of the Exile the first return occurs under Zerrubabel in 538 BC and it is about 45,000 Jews. There are a couple of other returns that occur under Ezra and Nehemiah over the next 150 years, and they never amount to a huge number. They are coming back from Babylon. There are some that return once they reestablish the temple, which is the second temple under Zerrubabel. There are others that return and by the time you get to the time of Christ you had a sizable Jewish community, but it didn't even amount to probably a third of worldwide Jews. So it is not a worldwide return that takes place prior to the coming of Christ.
If you look at Isaiah 11:12 says, "He," that is referring to God, "will set up a banner for the nations." This has the idea of a huge invitation, as it were, and this is an allusion to the Messiah, Who is the protection. "He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel." These are those who have been scattered. "And gather together the dispersed of Judah." So you have a parallel between the outcasts of Israel, the northern kingdom, and the dispersed of Judah, the southern kingdom. "From the four corners of the earth." Now that is a key phrase because you don't have a return of Jews from the four corners of the earth at any point to this day. It is happening in our generation. They are coming back from the four corners of the earth. But until the first aliyah, which began in the 1880s, and you begin to have Jews returning from Russia and from Eastern Europe, and that was the beginning and you've had numerous aliyahs or migrations of Jews back to Israel since.
Until the last hundred years you did not have this massive return. Today we have almost 50% of Jews in the world. We are at about 48-49% of worldwide Jews now live in Israel. That is massive! I believe that is a fulfillment or pre-fulfillment of prophesy, setting the stage for the Second Coming, which is at the end of the Tribulation. It is has nothing to do with the rapture. It has to do with the Tribulation. So it is setting the stage for that. That would be the first return. This verse is talking about the second return. The second return is a worldwide return that occurs when Israel is recovered at the end of the Tribulation. Now that is the second return. That means that there can only be how many returns in history? Worldwide returns? Two. That is the second one that comes at the end of the Tribulation. So when is the first one? Well it seems to me that what we are seeing now is the first one. So that is why that is significant.
Last time I also concluded by looking at Romans 11:25-27 (see slide #6) as a New Testament (NT) reference to the New Covenant, where it is established that there will be this universal salvation or deliverance of Israel and their material prosperity in the land. I want to go back and look at that verse very briefly before we go on. In this section Paul concludes his section of Romans 9-11, which is a focus on Israel, God's plan for Israel; and he concludes in Romans 11:25-27 (see slide #7) saying, "I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery." A mystery is something that hadn't been revealed in the Scriptures before. "Lest you be wise in your own opinion." He is talking to primarily Gentile believers. He says, "that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." And the grammar is really interesting there. The Greek word "until" indicates that when this condition is met, "the fullness of the Gentiles" then the ends and that there will be a full openness on the part of Israel to the Gospel.
And then he (Paul) says, Romans 11:26 "And so, [in this manner]" that I am about to tell you about. It is a forward-looking word. He's saying, and thus in this way, "all Israel will be saved." How will this occur? "'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob." And that idea is that when the Messiah comes He turns back ungodliness and apostasy from Israel. Concluding by saying, Romans 11:27, "For this is My Covenant with them." God is saying this is when I will fulfill My Covenant with them "when I take away their sins." Now this idea that he says "And so [in this manner] all Israel will be saved." This isn't talking about individual justification, individual deliverance from eternity in the lake of fire. That is not what it means. Nowhere else in Romans does the word "saved" refer to that. Remember in Romans 5:9-11 Paul said, we have been justified, looking back to the point of when we trust Christ as Savior. We had been justified in the past; that we shall be "saved" in the future. In Romans Paul is very careful to distinguish justification from salvation. Justification is what secures our eternity in heaven and frees us from an eternal destiny in the lake of fire. Salvation often focuses on the culmination of that process, when we are face to face with the Lord and in heaven.
It also has, in several contexts, Romans 10:13 being one of them; a quote from the OT, Joel 2, that salvation refers to physical deliverance. The timeframe for the fulfillment of Romans 11:26 is when Israel is rescued by the Messiah from the armies of the Antichrist. I believe this is talking about that physical rescue of Israel when the believing Jews have fled into the hills of Judea and across into what is now modern Jordon, the area of Basra and Petra, and that they will call upon the Name of the Lord. And Jesus the Messiah will come and rescue them and deliver them. I believe that is what Romans 11:26 is talking about. Paul consistently avoids using the word "saved" as a synonym for justification.
Any questions so far? (No questions.)
F. Let's look at the relationship of the church to the New Covenant (see slide #8).
In several places the NT talks about the New Covenant in the context of the church. This gets a little confusing for some people because we have a Bible that is divided into the Old Testament or Covenant and the New Testament or Covenant. The word translated "testament" is the same word that is translated "covenant." So if we are now living in the NT period, doesn't that mean that we are living under the New Covenant? It sure sounds that way because of how we use that term to describe what we have as the church age documents: The Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles. But that is a misunderstanding of how this terminology is used, as I will point out. So there is several places where the New Covenant is related to the church and as I pointed out last time, in every place where the New Covenant is talked about in terms of who it describes, whose involves, it is always between God on the one hand and the House of Israel and the House of Judah on the other hand. There is never a mention of a covenant with the church. But this is an issue for people, so we want to take it very carefully and look at these verses.
The first place that we have a mention of the New Covenant occurs at Passover as our Lord is celebrating the Seder with His disciples the night before He went to go to the cross. And while He is observing the Seder meal, as we state every time that we have the Lord's Table, He takes two of the elements and gives them new meaning. He goes through a normal, traditional Jewish Seder, but when He comes to the bread He breaks the bread and gives it a new meaning. He says this is My body which is given as a substitute for you. Then He comes to the cup, the third cup, which is called the cup of redemption. These terms developed not because of the Scriptural mandate that we know; we don't really know where these terms and some of these added elements took place. Some of them took place during the first temple, some took place during the second temple, some of them obviously were authorized by prophets in the OT. We just don't know. That is an argument from silence. But it is this third cup that is called the cup of redemption. That is the Messiah's mission from the OT, from passages like Isaiah 53, several others; He is the Redeemer of Israel.
1. Luke 22:14-20 (see slide #9). So He says, this cup, He has taken the cup, and He says, this is the New Covenant in My blood. He identifies His death on the cross; that is the significance of the phrase "in My blood." Scripture talks about the blood of Christ, the shed blood of Christ, all of these are terms that are somewhat metaphorical; that is, they are not talking about the literal blood of Christ. They use the phrase "shed blood" or someone "shed His blood" or "the blood" of someone is a metaphorical way or descriptive way of talking about their death. Genesis 9, in the Noahic Covenant, we read "Anyone who sheds man's blood, by man his blood will also be shed." So this is the foundation for understanding the Biblical emphasis on capital punishment for murder. Does that mean that it only applies when somebody's blood is literally shed? When somebody bleeds to death? No. In fact, in our studies of idioms, our studies of figures of speech, we realize that when you use a figure of speech the literal meaning of the term is no longer significant. The phraseology takes on its own meaning. It has it's own meaning; for example, if someone suddenly becomes embarrassed or shy and they can't articulate what they want to say, we might say that the "cat's got your tongue." There is no cat involved. Nobody is holding a literal tongue. It is just a figure of speech, a way of saying that somebody is not talking; they are afraid to speak.
So that is the same thing with "blood." So the phrase here is connecting the cup of wine; and it was always wine, even this day it is wine. Baptist or probably Methodist in the early 19th century were teetotalers. There was a saying in the old west that if a preacher came, if he had a flask of whiskey in his saddlebag, he was a Baptist, a hard shell Baptist. If he didn't he was a Methodist. The Methodists were the teetotalers, not the Baptist. It has sort of reversed itself in the 20th century. But that is the way it was historically. And so as a result of that, you had a lot of Methodists in the mid-19th century revival, with the emphasis on temperance and prohibition and all these things that were being touted; they just couldn't stand the fact that most churches were using wine in communion. This is evil alcohol. So a man by the name of Welch developed a methodology for preventing grape juice from fermenting. That is Welch's grape juice. That is the rest of the story. And so, the churches at that point begin to substitute grape juice for wine.
I have often told the story that I went to a church in Dallas, a large church pastored by one of the professors at Dallas Seminary, and they had an evening service. I hadn't been to this church before. I went with a couple of friends to the evening service. It was pretty much following the traditions of a Plymouth Brethren type church. Different people would stand up at different times and teach; then they would sing hymns. It was a rather unguided service, but rather orderly and a lot of the men in the church were seminary trained. So it was an opportunity for different men in the church to teach; and then they would always observe the Lord's Table every single Sunday night and they passed the elements. Afterwards as we were driving home one of my friends said that was wine! I said no it wasn't that was grape juice. He said no, no; that was wine. I said you've never had a drop of alcohol in your life. How would you know? We got into this intense argument; and what I came to find out was that at this church their tradition was that the inner circles of the communion tray were wine, for those who wished to have wine. And the outer circles, in case someone was an alcoholic or had a problem with wine, were grape juice. I had taken the grape juice and he had taken wine, and so we argued for quite awhile. All over the fact that he didn't know what wine tasted like, couldn't distinguish it from grape juice. That was great fun!
It is the deep red color of the wine that reminds us of the color of blood. So what we have here is a double imagery. The wine is a picture of shed blood. But the shed blood is a picture itself of the spiritual death of Christ, which is when He separated from God the Father on the cross between 12 noon and 3 p.m. That is when God the Father poured out upon Jesus Christ the sins of the world. He paid the sin penalty. After it was completed the apostle John says after it was finished, TETELESTAI, meaning after it was all completed, perfect tense verb indicating it was over and one with. After it was completed he (John) says "TETELESTAI", Jesus said, "TETELESTAI." He wants us to get the point that Jesus had already finished and completed everything before He died physically. It was after His death physically that the Roman soldier pierced His side with his spear and out came blood and water, the apostle John says. It was a separation of the blood into serum and red corpuscles indicating that death had already occurred before the spear thrust. When you are hanging from the cross and your insides, all your intestines are being pushed up against your diaphragm; that what happens after you suffocate is your blood separates above your diaphragm and then when that is pierced what comes out looks like blood or water.
Now what Christ is saying here is this cup is the New Covenant of My blood. His death on the cross establishes or is the foundational sacrifice for the New Covenant. It doesn't mean that the New Covenant is going into effect. It doesn't mean that the New Covenant is operational. It just means the foundation, the sacrifice for it, is accomplished. One of the things we see from looking at the OT where you have the Land Covenant given, but nothing is fulfilled. The Davidic Covenant is given; nothing is fulfilled. The New Covenant was given, but nothing was fulfilled. So certain things can happen without things being enacted or brought into effect.
2. The first (see slide #10), 1 Corinthians 11:25, is simply a repetition by Paul of what Jesus said at the Last Supper. And he is quoting what the Lord said, "This cup is the New Covenant of my blood;" and so it is not adding anything new to the topic.
3. The third use (see slide #11), 2 Corinthians 3:6 states, "Who also" that is referring to God, "Who also made us minister of the New Covenant."
So the question is, in what since is a Christian a minister of the New Covenant? And I would answer this by saying that the New Covenant goes operational in the future when the Kingdom is established. We are going to rule and reign with Christ in that future kingdom. Therefore, our life today is in preparation for that kingdom. What we are announcing today is that there is a future kingdom and as believers we need to be preparing for it. Because when we are evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ, then those rewards that we are given directly effect our roles and responsibilities in the Kingdom. So today we are teaching people. I am teaching you about the Kingdom. I am a minister of the Kingdom. That doesn't mean that the Kingdom is in effect now. That doesn't mean the New Covenant is in effect now; but it does mean that that is what we are looking forward to; that is what we are in training for; and that what we are preparing for. So it doesn't mean or imply that the New Covenant is operational yet.
4. Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6 (see slide #12) are some of the other passages. Hebrews says much more about the New Covenant then other passages of Scripture. It emphasizes that Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant. It is in Hebrews 7 that the writer of Hebrews indicates that the priesthood, the Aaronic priesthood, the priesthood of Aaron from the OT, is inferior to the priesthood of Christ. And that is because Christ came and establishes a new and better covenant. This leads up to the passage in Hebrews 8 where the writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-38. So let's just look at a couple of these passages. Hebrews 7:22 states, "so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." It is not in effect yet, but His death is the foundational sacrifice and that is a guarantee that the New Covenant will eventually come into effect. It will become operational.
In Hebrews 8:6 (see slide #13) we read, "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry," referring to Christ in His advent to heaven, as He ascended to heaven He is seated at the right hand of the Father; He is our High Priest in heaven; that is the more excellent ministry, "by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises." What this is saying is that the promises and prophesies of the OT related to the Messiah were fulfilled at the First Coming with the sacrifice that was made by Christ on the cross; that establishes it. It is not that the covenant being enacted on better promises doesn't mean that it has gone into effect or gone operational; because as I pointed out, as we went through all those OT passages last week, none of those characteristics are true today. There are things that may be similar, but the totality is not true today. And we have learned also by comparing those passages that it emphasized that when the New Covenant goes operational a regenerate Israel will be restored to the land with a Davidic king on the throne. We don't have a Davidic king on the throne. Israel is not restored to the land as a regenerate nation; therefore, we can't be in any way shape or form under the New Covenant.
Hebrews 9:15 (see slide #14) we read, "For this reason He is the Mediator of a New Covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." See, it is connecting the New Covenant and its fulfillment to the reception of that eternal inheritance. That does not come for the church age believers until the Judgment Seat of Christ and it is not activated until Jesus returns and establishes His Kingdom.
Hebrews 10:16 (see slide #15) talks about another covenant, I mean the same covenant. It uses the term "covenant" again. Hebrews 10:16 "'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,' says the Lord: 'I will put My laws upon their heart.' We don't see that today, where God's laws are upon the heart of every Jew; this is not true today. "And on their mind I will write them.'" That is not in effect today. That is a quote from the OT talking about what it will be like when the New Covenant is established.
Hebrews 10:29 (see slide #16) states, "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" The term "blood of the covenant" there simply refers to the death of Christ on the cross, which is the foundation for the New Covenant.
Then we come to Hebrews 12:24 (see slide #17) Jesus, again, third time now, is described as "the Mediator of a new covenant." And it is a reference to His sacrifice because there is the mention there of "the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." Going back to that first murder in Genesis 4.
And then we come to Hebrews 13:20 (see slide #18), the last mention of the covenant in Hebrews. "Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord." So again it is talking about just the death of Christ that provided the foundation for the New Covenant.
So here is the point; when we look at Scripture sometimes we read things into it, preconceived notions, and we read things into what the text says as if we are living in the time of the New Covenant. But when we look at these passages the only thing that they emphasize for the present time is that the sacrifice, that is the foundation of the New Covenant, has been established. When we look at the OT passages, and nothing has been changed or modified in terms of those prophesies, those prophesies aren't fulfilled until Jesus returns and establishes a literal kingdom in the land that God promised along with the Davidic monarch.
So in conclusion with this, we go back to our chart (see slide #19) and what we see is that each of these three covenants that are expansions on the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant, find their fulfillment at the beginning of the Millennium.
Okay, I do not know if anybody has any questions at this point. This would be a good time for questions.
Question: Could you possibly say that the church is a fulfillment of the New Covenant in part?
Question: Not at all? No, I will get into that in a minute. But it is not a partial fulfillment…. You were not here last time, but there is no part that it would fulfill. But there is more to that and I am going to get into that in just a minute and over the next couple of weeks.
Question: Can you help me understand how this how the church relates to Israel in the Millennial Kingdom because at the point of the Millennial Kingdom the Jews will have accepted Jesus as the Messiah, which is what right now constitutes us being members of the church.
Answer: We will go into that in detail, but the short answer is that the church; the question he was asking is to clarify the relationship between the church and Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. Israel has an earthly destiny. They have an earthly kingdom and they will be on the earth. You will have a regenerate Israel during the Millennial Kingdom. You will have a millennial temple operation with millennial sacrifices. We will get into all those details when we get to that dispensation. The church is in Christ and everything will flow from, because of our position in Christ. We are in our resurrection bodies and we are glorified and we are ruling and reigning. We are a part of the Theocratic administration during the Messianic Kingdom. So we are going to be ruling and reigning probably over the nations during the Millennial Kingdom. Then you have the OT saints and Jewish Tribulation saints that are in resurrection bodies and I believe they will be involved in that administration of Israel during the Millennial Kingdom. So that is the short answer. We will get into more details on that when we get there.
Question: Given the mass confusion produced mainly by reformed theology concerning the relationship of the body of Christ to the New Covenant, how do you or do you teach the slight distinction between the terms covenant and testament? Given that that the Greek word for both English words is the same, what do you make of the Authorized Version's nonuse of the phrase "new covenant", but "new testament" in Matthew 26:28 and all the Pauline epistles to the church?
Answer: Well, they all relate, as he points out, the Greek word is DIATHEKE. The old Authorized Version translated that "testament." You know, I am really not familiar. I can go back and look at that for next time and see what the distinction is there between "testament" and "covenant." I know there is some minor distinction. I have read that at some point a long time ago, long time ago. I haven't really focused on that, but the biblical term is "covenant"; which is a more precise definition. I think describing the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as "testament" is really confusing and has some roots in replacement theology, but I will check that out.
Here is our chart (see slide #19), we are looking at the time that all these covenants come into effect. Now one of the things that we ought to just clarify here, because people come from different backgrounds; basically, there have been questions about how to interpret all of these different passages and there are a couple of different views in covenant theology, which is the theology that came out of reformed theology.
Now that may be a new term for some of you. Reform theology refers to that aspect of the Protestant Reformation that was influenced by John Calvin and the school at Geneva. And they refer to themselves as reformers and you have the reformed church; as opposed to those who followed Luther in Germany and in Scandinavia that were Lutherans, and those who later were Baptist. So you had the reformed church and you had different branches and they still had state churches; so you had the French reformed, the Dutch reformed. You had a lot of reformed emphasis in Anglican theology. You had the Scottish reformed church, which later develops into Presbyterianism and Congregationalism. And that had to do with how they understood church government. So reformed theology basically covers that whole realm of theology that traces itself back to the theology of John Calvin.
In covenant theology we have a view of interpreting Scripture that is not consistently literal. Going back to the beginning when I started introducing dispensationalism, there are three key elements to dispensationalism:
1. The first is a consistent literal hermeneutic. The key word here is "consistent."
2, Second, is this leads to understanding a distinction between God's plan for Israel and God's plan for the church. These are two distinct entities. This is one reason why you don't have a partial fulfillment of the New Covenant in the church; is because everywhere the New Covenant is mentioned it is a New Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It is not with the church. So within covenant theology you have this replacement idea that the church replaced Israel. Israel rejected Jesus. They are the Christ killers.
Incidentally, one of the big news items that came out today was that the United Presbyterian Church USA in their economic investment group voted for divestment; that is a nasty word that means that they are going to take all the money that they have. They are not going to invest in any companies or anyone who invests positively in Israel. And it flows out of their replacement theology, but I think the vote on their board was 45 to 20 [committee vote], which is a huge majority. Now you have got to understand something about UPCUSA, that is the United Presbyterian Church USA. It is that this is the mainline denomination and that it's a member of the World Council of Churches. The World Council of Churches has always been anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, and that is always the seedbed for anti-Semitism. That doesn't mean that everyone of them is anti-Semitic, but they hold to a form of belief system that's the historic soil out of which anti-Semitic weeds have grown. And so this is part of the problem. So it is not surprising.
There are other conservative evangelical Presbyterian denominations that hold to replacement theology, but they wouldn't go that far. They are evangelical and they accept the authority of Scripture. The United Presbyterian Church, like the United Methodist, and like the United Church of Christ, and the Episcopal Church of the US have pretty much rejected biblical authority across the board. So, the OT has no authority for them. The Abrahamic Covenant has no authority for them. They basically have thrown out the authority of God for the authority of man and they are running a manmade religious system; and so it is not surprising that they would take such a move against Israel. But anti-Semitism historically, Christian anti-Semitism, has its roots in this kind of replacement theology; and covenant theology held to this. Lutheran theology held to forms of replacement theology. Roman Catholic theology, going back to about the 3rd century with Origin, in the early church, an allegorical interpretation, held to a replacement theology. Thus was the soil out of which Christian anti-Semitism historically grew.
Now within covenant theology they believe that Israel has no future at all because they rejected Jesus. God's rejected them, forgotten them; they are off the historical board. The only thing that matters is what they call the New Israel, the spiritual Israel; so of course, we become the heirs of the New Covenant. So if you been influenced by any degree by covenant theology, then you believe that we are living under the New Covenant because we're the spiritual Israel. But we are not spiritual Israel at all. The term Israel is never used of non-ethnic Jews anywhere in the Bible. There is one passage in Galatians, but it is a mixed congregation where Paul says, "Give greetings to the Israel of God." That is the Christian Jews of God that are there in the Galatian congregation. So that is sort of the covenant theology/replacement theology view; is that the church is a spiritual Israel, so we are heirs to the New Covenant.
The second view is the view that we hold that insist that the Scripture must be interpreted literally and that this covenant has to be made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It is a covenant that God makes with the Jewish people that is the outgrowth of the Abrahamic Covenant. And on the basis of that people are blessed worldwide because that will eventually be enacted because the foundational sacrifice has already been made.
Now there have been some ways in which dispensationalists have understood this. In the old Scofield Reference Bible, Scofield believed that there was one covenant, but it had two aspects. One was for Israel and other aspects were for the church. The problem is that the Scripture never states or makes such a distinction. It never says well these are for the church and these are for Israel. You don't have anything like that in any of the verses we've looked at; nothing distinguishes between some things for Israel, some things for the church. A second way which dispensationalists have tried to understand this; and this was popular in the mid-20th century, is that there were two new covenants. Some of you have heard people teach that; that there was a new covenant for Israel and a new covenant for the church.
Now no where in any of these passages does it ever say that God is making a new covenant with the church. He doesn't say anywhere that He makes a covenant with the church. It is not stated. So this is a theological deduction that had poor grounding exegetically because the Scriptures that are used that indicate who the partners are; just like your mortgage is a covenant. Who are the covenant partners? You and your mortgage holder. Your credit card, that is another covenant. Who are the covenant holders? You and the bank that issued the credit card. So, the new covenant is between God on the one hand and Israel and Judah on the other hand. And just like in the OT, when God made a covenant with Abraham, He said on the basis of our contract that I am establishing between Me and you, Abraham, I'm going to bless all the Gentiles out there. The New Covenant is the expansion of that third paragraph in the Abrahamic Covenant and God is saying on the basis of this new covenant with Israel and Judah I am going to be able to bless all the Gentiles. I am going to bless the church; I am going to provide worldwide salvation on the basis of the sacrifice that is a foundation for the New Covenant. But the New Covenant does not go into effect; none of those things that we saw last time; none of the characteristics are present today.
There may be some things that are similar, but similar is not identity; they are different. We have to remember that whenever, if you were a Jew, and Paul's a Jew, Paul is writing to mixed congregations that are composed of saved Jews, Messianic Jews. The writer of Hebrews is writing to a primarily Jewish audience; that when they heard the word "new covenant" they would automatically be thinking of a literal fulfillment of Jeremiah 31. The reason I am make that point is that there is nothing in any of these passages to qualify or change the meaning that is originally given in the OT passages. So there is nothing new given to say that it is with somebody else or for somebody else.
3. So the most consistent way of understanding this is that there is only one New Covenant just as there is only one Abrahamic Covenant, one Palestinian Covenant (Land Covenant), or one Davidic Covenant; that these others contain promises both for physical blessing and for spiritual blessings for Israel and some of it contain elements describing blessings for the Gentiles by association with the Jews. So the New Covenant, just like these other covenants is with the House of Israel and the House of Judah and it describes blessings for the Jews, but also the extension of spiritual blessing to the Gentiles. And this is described in various other places in the Scripture.
Now one last passage to go to here before we wrap up is in Romans 11. Romans 11 is Paul's final chapter in this three chapter section that talks about the fact that God's not through with Israel. God still has a plan for Israel. And in the midst of this passage Paul uses an illustration to talk about God's blessing. He starts this in Romans 11:16-17 to get the context. The first illustration he uses he talks about a lump of dough that would be brought during firstfruits. And he says "If the firstfruit is holy," that would be the very first product of the harvest. If that was ground into flour and then dough was made, "If the firstfruit is holy, then the lump is also." In other words, if that initial part is sanctified then that sanctifies the whole. "And if the root is holy" that describes a tree, "if the root is holy" or set apart, "so are the branches." Then he builds on this illustration using the picture of an olive tree. "If some of the branches were broken off," so you have this picture of this olive tree and you have the root and the truck and the branches. Some people think the root is Israel or the root is the Scripture. The root is the Abrahamic Covenant.
What Paul is describing here is blessing. The root is the Abrahamic Covenant that provides blessing and nourishment to the branches. But some of the ranches can be broken off. They are not the natural branches. The natural branches describe the Jews have a natural physical relationship to the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul (Isaiah 11:17) says that "if some of the branches are broken off in you," that is Gentiles, "if you being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them." So in agriculture you can take different trees. I have had different pictures before of a cherry tree that I took in Norwich, Connecticut, where a red blossom cherry tree was grafted onto a white cherry blossom tree outside the First Congregational Church in Norwich. So if you get there the right time of the spring half of the tree is white blossoms and half of it is pink blossoms. You can do the same thing with an olive tree. You have a natural olive tree. You break off branches and you graft in wild olive branches and they grow into the tree and they partake of the same roots and nourishment as the natural branches. And so the Gentiles are described as wild olive branches. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, by the way, married a Gentile and he always refers to her as his wild olive branch.
So Paul says in developing this analogy (in Romans 11:17-23), he says you "were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree." We participate in the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul says, "Do not boast against the branches." Don't act like it is anything inherent in you that makes you special, "But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root," the Abrahamic Covenant, "but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off," that is the reason the Jews did not maintain this position of blessing with the Abrahamic Covenant is because of unbelief and so they are removed in discipline. "… they were broken off and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off." And so this is His picture here, is that the Abrahamic Covenant becomes the foundation for blessing for everyone in the world, for Jews and Gentiles, on the basis of faith alone in Christ alone.
So that summarizes these issues with the New Covenant. One of the things we are going to get to that is really important next time is dealing with some of the interpretational issues because in covenant theology where they do not believe in a literal future millennial kingdom; they interpret certain key passages in a non-literal way. And this really effects your interpretation in Acts 2 and Acts 3 and how you come up with their view that the church is the due recipient of the New Covenant and why we are living under the New Covenant. And we have to go through very carefully some of these issues because you may not be aware of them, but they influence how many people read the Scriptures. So we need to go through these and deal with some of those hermeneutical issues next time; and so we will do that.
Any other questions before I wrap up. Okay, alright, let's close in prayer.
"Father, thank You for this time when we can look at Your Word and understand that You have given us such a tremendous blessing that is all due to Your grace, Your goodness toward us, and You have provided us such a magnificent blessing through Jesus Christ Who died on the cross for our sins. He laid that sacrifice for us; that foundation for the New Covenant. That it is not yet it is not yet come into effect, but will in the future. And Father, we pray that You will help us as we think through these issues very carefully to understand what Your Word says and how You have described these things that we may accurately handle Your Word. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."