What is the New Covenant?

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In its basic form, a covenant governs a reciprocal relationship between God and humanity in the same way that a normal covenant or agreement involves a relationship between two or more people. The New Covenant is in force because Jesus, the testator, has died. Understanding this is crucial to the believer, because the reconciliation we have received is only possible through "His blood on the cross," the blood of the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus our Lord (Col 1,20).

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 humans. Christ declared to his disciples when he instituted the Lord's Supper: "This is my blood of the new covenant" (Mk 14,24, Mt 26,28). This is the blood of the eternal covenant "(Hebr 13,20).

The prophets of the Old Covenant foretold the coming of this covenant. Isaiah describes God's words "to him that is despised of men and abhorred of the Gentiles, to the servant who is under tyrants ... I have kept you safe and appointed a covenant for the people" (Isaiah 49,7-8; see also Isa 42,6). This is a clear reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Through Isaiah, God also predicted, "I will give them the reward of faithfulness and make an everlasting covenant with them" (Isaiah 61,8).

Jeremiah also said, "Behold, the time comes, saith the Lord, I will make a new covenant," which "was not like the covenant that I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt "(Jer 31,31-32). This is again referred to as "eternal covenant" (Jer 32,40).

Ezekiel emphasizes the reconciling nature of this covenant. He notes in the famous chapter of the Bible about the "withered bones": "And I will conclude with them a covenant of peace, which shall be an everlasting covenant with them" (Hes 37,26).

Why a covenant?

In its basic form, a covenant implies a reciprocal relationship between God and humanity in the same way that a normal covenant or agreement involves a relationship between two or more people.

This is unique in religions because in ancient cultures gods usually do not enter into meaningful relationships with men or women. Jeremiah 32,38 refers to the intimate nature of this covenant relationship: "You should be my people and I want to be their god."

Frets have been and are used in business and legal transactions. At the time of the Old Testament, both Israelite and pagan practices included ratifying human cages with a blood sacrifice or lesser ritual of any kind to emphasize the bond and the first status of the covenant. Today, we see a lasting example of this notion when people solemnly exchange rings to express their commitment to marriage. Under the influence of their society, Biblical characters used various practices to physically solemnly seal their covenant relationship with God.

"It is clear that the idea of ​​a covenant relationship was not at all foreign to the Israelites, and thus it is not surprising that God used this form of relationship to express his relationship with his people" (Golding 2004: 75).

God's covenant between himself and humankind is comparable to agreements made in society, but he does not have the same rank. The New Covenant lacks the concept of negotiation and exchange. In addition, God and man are not equal beings. "The divine covenant goes beyond its earthly analogy" (Golding, 2004: 74).

Most ancient frets had a reciprocal quality. For example, desired behavior is rewarded with blessings, and so on. There is an element of reciprocity expressed in terms of agreed terms.

One type of covenant is a covenant of aid [support]. In it, a higher power, such as a king, grants undeserved favor to his subjects. This type of covenant is most similar to the New Covenant. God grants humanity its grace without preconditions. In fact, the reconciliation that was made possible by the bloodshed of this eternal covenant happened without God attributing to humanity its transgressions (1Kor 5,19). Without any action or remorse on our part, Christ died for us (Rom 5,8). Grace precedes Christian behavior.

What about the other Biblical frets?

Most Bible scholars identify at least four other frets in addition to the New Covenant. These are God's covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David.
In his letter to non-Jewish Christians in Ephesus, Paul explains to them that they were "strangers outside the covenant of promise," but in Christ they were now "those who were once distant, near by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2,12-13 ), ie through the blood of the New Covenant, which makes reconciliation possible for all people.

The covenants with Noah, Abraham and David contain all unconditional promises that find their direct fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

"I believe it was the time of Noah when I swore that the Noah's waters would not go over the earth any more. So I have sworn that I no longer want to be angry with you and do not want to scold you anymore. For the mountains shall yield and the hills fall, but my grace shall not depart from thee, and the covenant of my peace shall not fall, saith the LORD your Merciful. "(Jes 54,9-10).

Paul declares that Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, and therefore all believers are heirs of saving grace (Gal 3,15-18). "But if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham's children, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3,29). The covenant commitments to the line of David (Jer 23,5, 33,20-21) are embodied in Jesus, "the Root and Descendant of David," the King of Justice (Rev. 22,16).

The Mosaic Covenant, also known as the Old Covenant, was conditional. The condition was that blessings would follow if the Israelites followed the codified law of Moses, especially the inheritance of the Promised Land, the vision that Christ spiritually fulfilled: "And that is why he is the mediator of the new covenant, and his death that is done for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, which receive the promised eternal inheritance to the professed "(Heb. 9,15).

Historically, the frets also included signs indicating the continued involvement of each party. These signs also refer to the New Covenant. The sign of the covenant with Noah and creation was, for example, the rainbow, a colorful distribution of light. It is Christ who is the light of the world (Joh 8,12; 1,4-9).

The sign for Abraham was the circumcision (1Mo 17,10-11). This ties in with the scholarly consensus regarding the basic meaning of the Hebrew word berith, which is translated as "covenant," a term that has to do with cutting. The phrase "cut a covenant" is sometimes still used. Jesus, the seed of Abraham, was circumcised according to this practice (Lk 2,21). Paul explained that circumcision for the believer is no longer physical, but spiritual. Under the New Covenant "the circumcision of the heart, which is in the mind and not in the letter, is valid" (Roman 2,29, see also Phil 3,3).

The Sabbath was also the sign given to the Mosaic Covenant (2Mo 31,12-18). Christ is the rest of all our works (Mt 11,28-30, Hebr 4,10). This rest is present as well as present: "For if Joshua had brought her to rest, God would not have spoken of another day thereafter. So there is still rest for the people of God "(Hebr 4,8-9).

The New Covenant also has a sign, and not a rainbow or circumcision or the Sabbath. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin is pregnant and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel" (Jes 7,14). The first hint that we are God's New Covenant people is that God came to dwell among us in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ (Mt 1,21, Joh 1,14).

The New Covenant also contains a promise. "And behold," says Christ, "I will send down to you what my Father has promised" (Lk 24,49), and that promise was the gift of the Holy Ghost (Act 2,33, Gal 3,14). Believers are sealed in the New Covenant "with the Holy Ghost, who is promised, which is the sub-fortune of our inheritance" (Eph 1,13-14). A true Christian is characterized neither by ritual circumcision nor by a series of obligations, but by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8,9). The idea of ​​the covenant offers a breadth and depth of experience in which God's grace can be understood literally, figuratively, symbolically and through analogies.

Which frets are still in force?

All the aforementioned frets are summarized in the glory of the eternal New Covenant. Paul illustrates this when he compares the Mosaic Covenant, also known as the Old Covenant, with the New Covenant.
Paul calls the Mosaic Covenant the "ministry that brings death and was carved with letters in stone" (2Kor 3,7, see also 2Mo 34,27-28), and says that, though he once was glorious, "not for glory to pay attention to this exuberant glory, "a reference to the ministry of the Spirit, in other words, the New Covenant (2Kor 3,10). Christ is worth "greater honor than Moses" (Hebr 3,3).

The Greek word for covenant, diatheke, gives fresh meaning to this discussion. It adds the dimension of an agreement, which is a last will or testament. In the Old Testament, the word berith was not used in this sense.

The author of Hebrews uses this Greek distinction. Both the Mosaic and the New Covenant are like Testaments. The Mosaic Covenant is the first will [will] to be lifted when the second is written. "He picks up the first one so he can use the second one" (Hebr 10,9). "For if the first covenant had been blameless, there would be no room for another" (Hebr 8,7). The New Covenant was "not like the covenant I made with their fathers" (Hebr 8,9).

Therefore, Christ is the mediator of a "better covenant founded on better promises" (Hebr 8,6). When someone writes a new will, all previous wills and their terms lose their effect, no matter how glorious they are, they are no longer binding and useless to their heirs. "By saying" a new covenant, "he declares the first to be outdated. But what is outdated and survived is near its end "(Hebr 8,13). Therefore, the forms of the Old can not be required as a condition for participation in the New Covenant (Anderson 2007: 33).

Of course: "For where there is a will, there must be the death of the one who made the will. For a will enters into force only with death; it is not yet in power as long as the one who still lives, who has done it "(Heb. 9,16-17). For this purpose, Christ died, and we receive sanctification from the Spirit. "By this will we are sanctified once for all by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ" (Hebr 10,10).

The ordinance of the sacrificial system in the Mosaic Covenant has no effect, "for it is impossible to take away sins through the blood of bulls and goats" (Hebr 10,4), and anyway the first will was lifted so that he would use the second (Hebr 10,9).

Whoever wrote Hebrews, was very worried that his or her readers understood the serious meaning of the New Testament doctrine. Do you remember what the Old Covenant was like when it came to those who rejected Moses? "If anyone breaks the law of Moses, he must die without mercy on two or three witnesses" (Hebr 10,28).

"How much harsher punishment, you think, will the one who tramples on the Son of God and considers the blood of the covenant unclean, by which he was sanctified, and abominates the Spirit of mercy" (Hebr 10,29)?

ending

The New Covenant is in force because Jesus, the testator, has died. To understand this is of vital importance to the believer, because the reconciliation we have received is only possible through "His blood on the cross," the blood of the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus our Lord (Col 1,20).

by James Henderson