Study 10 Objective:
What is the New Covenant and why is it of vital importance to the believer?
Back to Bible Study 10:
Whose idea is it?
It is important to understand that the New Covenant is God’s idea, and that it is not a concept concocted by human beings.
Christ explains to His disciples, as He instituted the Lord’s Supper, “This is My blood of the new covenant” (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28). This is “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20).
The Old Testament prophets prophesied of this covenant to come. Isaiah records the words of God “to Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors, to the Servant of rulers…I will preserve you and
give you as a covenant to the people” (49:7-8; see also 42:6). This is a clear reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Through Isaiah God also foretold, “I will direct their work in truth, and make with them an everlasting covenant.” (61:8).
Jeremiah also spoke of this. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant”, which would not be “according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt” (Jeremiah 31:31-32). This is again referred to as “an everlasting covenant” (32:40).
Ezekiel points to the reconciliatory nature of this covenant. He notes in the famous “dry bones” chapter of the Bible, “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant” (37:26).
If this concept of a new everlasting covenant has originated with God, do you think it has relevance to faith?
If so, how would you describe that relevance to your personal faith?
Why a covenant?
In its basic form a biblical covenant implies a mutual relationship between God and humankind in the same way that a normal covenant or agreement implies a relationship between two or more people.
This is unique in religion because typically, in ancient cultures, gods do not entertain meaningful relationships with men and women.
Jeremiah 32:38 indicates the intimate nature of the divine covenant relationship, “They shall be My people, and I will be their God”.
Covenants were used and are used in business and legal transactions. Often, in Old Testament times, both Israelite and pagan customs involved ratifying human covenants with a blood sacrifice or lesser
ritual of some sort in order to stress the binding and serious status of the agreement.
Today we see an enduring example of this idea when people exchange rings ritualistically in order to seal their commitment in the marriage covenant. Biblical characters, under the influence of their societies, would apply varied practices in order to solemnize physically their covenantal relationship with God.
“It is clear that the idea of a covenant relationship was not at all strange to the Israelites, and thus it is not surprising that God used this form of relationship to give expression to His relationship with His people” (Golding 2004:75).
God’s covenant between Himself and humanity is comparable to such agreements made in society but it is not of the same standing. With the new covenant, the concept of bargaining or exchange is missing. In addition, God and man are not equal beings. “The divine covenant
infinitely transcends its earthly analogy” (Golding 2004:74).