The New Covenant

Deuteronomy 30.1-10
Jeremiah 31.31-34
Ezekiel 11.17-20, 37.15-28
Matthew 26.28
Ephesians 1.13-14

We had a lively discussion about the New Covenant during midrash on Shabbat. Since we have a number of people who have joined the congregation since the last time the subject was discussed, it is probably a good idea to lay out the discussion.

First we need to understand that the New Covenant is made with the whole of Israel. Judah and Ephraim being the leaders of the southern kingdom and the northern kingdom respectively, are the leaders of the nation. We see it most clearly in the Ez 37 passage where the two sticks are joined together in the Father's hand and then the New Covenant is given.

It is also stated more subtly in the Jeremiah passage. Jer 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah [Israel divided]" Then in Jer 31:33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel [united] after those days, says the Lord:"

Note that the New Covenant is between God and a redeemed Israel; the nations are not involved except to marvel at God's glory in keeping His word.

What are the conditions of the New Covenant?

  • Israel retrieved from all of the nations where they were scattered by God.
  • Israel reunited, no longer two kingdoms.
  • Hearts of stone exchanged for hearts of flesh and
  • The Torah written upon the heart (perfect knowledge and perfect obedience).
  • Special relationship between God and the redeemed Israel.

As you read through that list, note that none of these conditions yet exists. As I understand it, we will not live under the New Covenant until either the Millennial Kingdom or the New Jerusalem (reasonable people could differ on which).

So what's going on with Y'shua's statement at the Last Supper that His blood would seal the New Covenant? Isn't that when it started? Aren't we under the New Covenant now?

Ray Harrison gave as good a metaphor as I've heard when he compared the New Covenant to a real estate transaction (which in one sense it is). When buying a house, there are several stages to the transaction. First the buyer makes an offer, accompanied by earnest money. If the seller accepts, a contract is signed. The buyer then prepares his money (often by securing a loan) and a date is set for closing. At closing, the buyer pays for the house and is entitled to move into the property.

We have much the same process going on with the New Covenant. God has made the offer in the Tanak (Old Testament). His son has signed the contract in His own blood. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as an earnest (Eph 1:13-14), but we have not yet taken possession of the property.