"I am the vine, you are the branches"
The New Covenant
A very popular dogma of the church is that we are now under a new covenant. Because of Jesus (Yeshua) we no longer need to keep the old covenant; it is obsolete and does not apply to Christians. We want to take a closer look at this and see if it is really true. Let's start by looking at the first reference to the new covenant.
The New Covenant Proclaimed by the Prophets
Jeremiah 31:31-32 says, "'Behold days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the Lord.'" So what is going on here? It seems that God is saying that He is going to make a new covenant with Israel only. Let's continue to look at what else Jeremiah had to say about the New Covenant.Jeremiah 32:37-41 tells us, "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. And I will rejoice over them to do good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul." He went on to say that God was going to restore all their fortunes.
So let's continue to see what Jeremiah has to say about this new covenant. Jeremiah 33:14-15: "'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.'" He went on to say that David shall not lack a man to sit on his throne and the Levitical priesthood would always offer up the offerings before Him. Jeremiah 33 goes on to say in verses 20-21, "Thus says the Lord, If you can break My covenant for the day, and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed times, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers." God backed up His promise, for we all know that the day and the night have come all these thousands of years and so this promise still stands.
Ezekiel also speaks of this covenant in Ezekiel 11:19-20: "And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God." He continues with this thought in Ezekiel 18:31: "Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?"
So we have seen so far that the new covenant has to do with God returning His people to the Land of Israel and that one would reign on the throne of David forever, which we know to be the Messiah Yeshua because the angel told this to Mary (Luke 1:32-33). There are many places in the Hebrew Scriptures which make reference to the New Covenant, and we have seen in all of them that it is about Israel and the Messianic Era. We have not been taught these things because we have been taught that the church has replaced Israel and now all the blessings are for the Christians and no longer for the Jewish people; but as we have seen, God can not and will not break His word to his people and the evidence is in each new day. We also have seen that the New Covenant will be on a Spiritual level. God will be doing heart surgery on His people.
The New Covenant in the Apostolic Scriptures
Hebrews 8:8-12 gives us a very clear idea of what the New Covenant is all about: "'Behold, days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them,' says the Lord. 'For this is the covenant that I make with the house of Israel after those days,' says the Lord; 'I will put My Laws into their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.'" Paul starts off by quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Paul is making reference to this again in 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 hearts, and upon their mind I will write them.'" But what is required is a closer look at the second half of this statement. We see here that God is going to put His laws into the minds of His people and write them on their hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says, "You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Messiah, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts."
So far we have seen that the New Covenant will be made with Israel and the fulfillment will be in the Messianic Age when Yeshua will sit on the throne of King David forever. We also have seen that this New Covenant is about God putting His Laws in the minds and writing His Torah on the hearts of His people and giving them a new spirit and heart. So far the Scriptures that we call obsolete agree with the Scriptures we say are not.
Yeshua and the New Covenant
Let's look at what Yeshua tells us. We know that Yeshua is the Word made flesh, but why do we think that He is only the Word of the New Testament made flesh? John 1:1-3 tells us, "In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Yeshua was and is and is to come, the living Torah which was from before the foundation of the world. When God spoke things into existence, He did it by the speaking of the Torah, for that was all that was from the beginning. We find that when the prophets spoke of the New Covenant, it was all based on the Torah.
John records a conversation with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and one who sat on the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) of Israel. John 3:3: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (The Messianic Era)." Nicodemus questions how can one be born again? Yeshua answers in verses 5-6, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (The Messianic Era). That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Yeshua tells His disciples in John 6:63, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." Yeshua tells Nicodemus that if a person wishes to be in the Messianic Era, he must be born of the Spirit.
Yeshua preached, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God (The Messianic Era) is at hand." Could this be true? We find Yeshua eating the Passover meal with His disciples before His death and at the appropriate time in the Seder, He takes the cup called the Cup of Redemption and says, "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in My blood: do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:20). When we drink the Cup of Redemption, we are to remember Yeshua our Messiah, that He redeemed us from the house of slavery and brought us into His Kingdom and because of this we have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11:17). Here we have a reference to the kingdom along with the reference to the New Covenant. All covenants were ratified by the shedding of blood, and Yeshua shedding His blood made Him the new mediator of this New Covenant. But if you think that you are now in the New Covenant and the Old has passed away, I say think again because nothing has been done away with; Yeshua said, "I did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it." So this did not end the covenant made with Moses, for God's promises and His Laws are forever (Galatians 3:15-17). We have seen that they were from the foundation of the world. But what was lacking in the first covenant, which caused the people not to be able to keep God's Laws, was now going to be changed so that they now could keep it, and that element was the Holy Spirit which was given at Pentecost, the same feast on which in Moses' day the Law was given at Mt.Sinai. Yeshua now had redeemed us and we were no longer slaves to sin. He sent His Spirit to lead us and guide us in all truth.
Now I want to say, we do not keep the Torah unto salvation, for Yeshua ransomed us. He paid the price and we are no longer slaves of the kingdom of darkness, but we are children in the kingdom of God. We do keep His commandments because we love Him (John 14:15, 21, 23, 15:10; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6). Yeshua told us that we are to eat His flesh and drink His blood and we are to abide in Him; this is all having to do with living by His word and keeping His commandments. Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter 5:16-17, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." Verses 24-25: "Now those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
Peter quotes the prophecy from Joel 2:28-32 on the day of Pentecost after receiving the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:16-21: "'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth My Spirit and they shall prophesy. And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'" We see that the Spirit will be poured out before the second coming of the Lord.
So I ask again, when Yeshua preached, "Repent for the Kingdom of God (Messianic Era) is at hand," was this true? Paul tells us in Romans 8:23 that the giving of the Holy Spirit was given to us, the first fruits, as a pledge of what is to come. So yes, the foreshadowing, the first-fruits of the kingdom is here and now, and we who belong to the kingdom must walk by its ways, and its ways all begin with living by the Holy Spirit and keeping the covenant which is done by the keeping of His commandments, which now we are able to do because Yeshua set us free from the bondage of slavery. In other words, Yeshua came to teach us how to live by His Torah and it all begins by having a change of heart, being born again, being lead by the Spirit and crucifying the flesh, following in His footsteps, abiding by the whole counsel of His Word, and keeping His commandments.
Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to write the Torah on your heart and mind? If not, why not? Come, be part of God's covenant-keeping kingdom today.