So What’s New?
As we begin a new year, we want to look at new beginnings, for that is what a new year is all about. We want to look at all of those new beginnings in God's Word.
Let's start with the New Testament. Why do we call the New Testament new? Are we saying that the Old Testament has been done away with? Can one do away with its foundation? We need to call it the Hebrew Scriptures, for that is what they are. The gospels and epistles may be better known as the 1st Century Scriptures, for they were written in the 1st Century; or perhaps the early church writings may even be a better name, but surely we can not call one old and one new. We never read that God said, "Behold, I make new Scriptures, for the old has passed away." But He did say, "Therefore, if any man is in Messiah, he is a new Creature, the old things passed away, behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The scriptures also speak of a new way of living in Hebrews 10:19-22, "Since, therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Yeshua (Jesus), by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
So what is this new way and new man that God has made? Well, this new man begins in John 3:3. Yeshua, speaking to Nicodemus—one of the leaders of the Jewish people—tells him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." What is this new birth? He goes on and tells him in verse 5, "Truly, truly. I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." We see that one must be born of the Spirit, not just of the flesh. Romans 6:4 tells us, "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." Galatians 5:24 says, "Now those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
To be born again and experience the new life found in Messiah, we must then crucify the flesh. We must stop the deeds of the flesh which are "immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:19-21). "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" (Galatians 5:17). "But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
So what else is new? Isaiah 65:17 tells us, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind." John writes in Revelation 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." Revelation 21:10 also tells us, "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the (new) holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God."
We have seen many things that God has and will make new, but we have one more "new," and that is the New Covenant. We first see that a new covenant was to be made in Jeremiah 31:31-33, "‘Behold days are coming', declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which 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. ‘But this is the new covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'" Yeshua tells His disciples at His last Seder Meal recorded in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Paul tells the corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:25, "In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My Blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'"
Even though Yeshua is the ratifier of this covenant through His shed blood (for all of God's covenants were made with blood), the old covenant was not abolished, for Yeshua said in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."
So what's so new about the new covenant? Well, God's Law, His Torah, will now be written on our hearts, not on stone like as the first time. And why? Because the people could not keep it without the help of the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, "Now He who establishes us with you in Messiah and anointed us in God, who also sealed us and gave us the spirit in our hearts as a pledge (or down payment) . . . ." So the Holy Spirit was given to us as a down payment or a pledge of things yet to come, for the New Covenant will have its fulfillment in the Messianic Age, which is the 1000 year rule of Messiah in Jerusalem (Revelation 20:4). We are just the first fruits, as it says in Romans 8:23, "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."
"Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5).