What is the New or Renewed Covenant? – Covenants – Part 5

Written by Schalk_and_Elsa on. Posted in Covenant

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Renewed Covenant or New covenantIn this study, we will continue our investigation into the most significant covenants contained in the Scriptures.  We have already looked in a bit more detail at the Abrahamic covenant and the Sinai covenant.  We will now look at the covenant that is most commonly referred to as “the New Covenant.” It is important for us to understand exactly what this is, when it starts, how it relates to the two covenants we have investigated so far and what the impact of this covenant is on us. We also need to take special notice of the role of Y’Shua our Messiah in this covenant.

While studying this topic, it is important to try to keep ourselves clear of preconceived ideas of what this covenant is and how we are impacted.  Many of us have been introduced to this covenant via a wrong point of view.  It is challenging to look upon this study with a new point of view that does not bring the previous teachings with.  However, it is of extreme importance to allow Scripture to speak for itself.  Let us look at what the Scriptures say about this covenant, rather than man’s view of how it should be interpreted.

What is the New/Renewed Covenant?

Compared to the previous two covenants we investigated, there is actually very little in the Scriptures regarding the “new covenant.” The key verse that refers to this covenant is found in the Tanakh in a prophecy made by the prophet Jeremiah. This prophecy was given to the Southern tribes before the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the nation to Babylon. The specific prophecy was most likely made when Jeremiah was held captive in the court of the guard in the king’s palace. It implies that the prophecy was speaking as the Babylonians were preparing to conquer Jerusalem. It would date the prophecy around 588-587 B.C.

Jeremiah 31:31–34
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares YHVH, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 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 YHVH. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares YHVH, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. 34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know YHVH,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares YHVH, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

This specific verse is the only verse in the Tanakh to use the phrase “new covenant” (Berit haDasah). In the Apostolic Scripture, we find a reference to this verse in Hebrews 8:8-12.

Renewed Covenant - Jer 31 - EnglishLet us first study the words that we would most likely use the most: “new” and “covenant.” Let’s start from the word that is translated  as “new”. In the Hebrew scriptures, we find the word חֲדָשָֽׁה׃ (“haDasah”). The lemma (dictionary form) of the word is חָדָשׁ (“hadas” or “chadash”) that is marked as Strong’s #2319.  When used as an adjective, it is “chadash” but when it is used as a noun it is the word “chodesh”. We already know “chodesh”as “new moon” or month. The verb of the word (chadash)is translated as “to renew” as seen in 1 Samuel 11:14 or “restored” as can be seen in 2 Chron 15:8. It is interesting to note that this word does not appear in the Torah (first 5 books).   When looking up the adjective form of the word (as is the use here) in the lexicons 1 you will find that has two related meanings:

  • That what is recent (not old) – young or new
  • That what was not previously known

This indicates that the covenant being referred to here, can either be a renewal of the existing covenant, or it can be a covenant that did not previously exist. Thus, we will need to use the context to try to determine exactly which one of the two is most applicable in this specific case. What we learn about the “new” covenant from this phrase is:

  • it is not like the previous
  • “this is the covenant indicating the content that will be contained in the covenant

These two bits of information give us the clue that this covenant does not exist independent of the previous two.  If we look into the content of the renewed covenant, the connection to the earlier two covenants can easily been seen in “I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people” and “My law.” This is a clear link to the Sinai covenant. We also know from our previous study that the Sinai covenant contains many elements that first appeared in the Abrahamic covenant. We can thus clearly see the connection and that, in my opinion, makes the choice of “renewed” better for this specific term.

In our initial study of the introduction to covenants, we saw that a covenant is different compared to a testament. We have seen that a testament is normally the transfer of ownership at the death of the creator of the testament. It is also the norm for the content of the testament (or last will) not to be discussed with the other parties, and they do not need to be informed if it is altered or annulled. Thus, we cannot see this as a new testament, because that would mean it only becomes active at the death of YHVH (the creator of the testament).  We know that this cannot be the case.

This then points me to favor the use of the phrase “renewed covenant.”  It is also the reason why I do no refer to the last third of the Scriptures as the “New Testament.”  It does not contain anybody’s testament, and it contains mostly what is already known to us from the Tanakh.  Thus my preference for the term “Apostolic Scriptures” to refer to the writings of the Apostles of Y’Shua.

Scriptural references

Tanakh

As I have already mentioned, the phrase “renewed covenant” only appears once in the Tanakh. We do, however, see a number of places where similar concepts are being discussed. In these scriptures, different phrases are being used to describe what we have seen in Jeremiah. Here are some of the verses from the Tanakh:

Jeremiah 32:36–41
36 “Now therefore thus says YHVH Elohim of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.’ 37 “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. 38They shall be My people, and I will be their Elohim; 39 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. 40I 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. 41 “I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.

Ezekiel 37:21–28
21 “Say to them, ‘Thus says YHVH Elohim, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23 “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their Elohim. 24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. 25 “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their Elohim, and they will be My people. 28 “And the nations will know that I am YHVH who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.” ’ ”

From these verses, we can see that it is also referred to as “an everlasting covenant” and a “covenant of peace.” These two terms then lead us to even more verses that explain the timing and the content of this covenant.

Ezekiel 34:23–30
23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24 “And I, YHVH, will be their Elohim, and My servant David will be prince among them; I YHVH have spoken. 25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 “I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. 27 “Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am YHVH, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 “They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. 29 “I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. 30 “Then they will know that I, YHVH their Elohim, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares YHVH Elohim.

Isaiah 55:3–5
3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. 4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. 5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of YHVH your Elohim, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.”

Isaiah 61:8–9
8 For I, YHVH, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; And I will faithfully give them their recompense And make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Then their offspring will be known among the nations, And their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them Because they are the offspring whom YHVH has blessed.

We also see two other verses that share the same context, even though they never use the term “covenant.”

Ezekiel 36:25–32
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. 30 “I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares YHVH Elohim, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

Jeremiah 33:14–22
14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares YHVH, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 ‘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. 16 ‘In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: YHVH is our righteousness.’ 17 “For thus says YHVH, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’ ” 19 The word of YHVH came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says YHVH, ‘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 time, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22 ‘As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’ ”

Apostolic Scriptures

In the Apostolic scriptures, we find more references to the term.  We see the term being used within the context of what Y’Shua did during His last supper with His disciples.  The phrases that describe the “renewed covenant” are actually referencing one another.  Based on the chronology of the different books (when they were actually written), it was most likely that the quotes in 1 Corinthians preceded that of Luke.

Luke 22:15–20
15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of Elohim.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of YHVH comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

1 Corinthians 11:23–26
23 For I received from YHVH that which I also delivered to you, that the Y’Shua the Messiah in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 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.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

It is also interesting to note that the correlating verses in the other two gospels (Matthew and Mark), never actually use the term “renewed covenant,” but simply the term “covenant.”

Matthew 26:26–29
26 While they were eating, Y’Shua took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Mark 14:22–24
22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Some manuscripts like the Textus Receptus do contain the Greek word for “renewed” in their text for Matthew and Mark, but the earlier manuscripts in the  Sinaiticus and Vaticanus codexes both do not contain the word. The result is that some of the early English translations (e.g. King James version, Tyndale and Wycliffe) include the word “new” also in the verses in Matthew and Mark. Most modern translation does not include “new” in the verses in Matthew and Mark.

In the letter to the Hebrews, we find a number of references to the renewed covenant.  These start of with a direct quote from Jeremiah 31.

Hebrews 8:7–13
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says,

“Behold, days are coming, says YHVH, When I will effect a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 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 YHVH. 10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says YHVH: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their Elohim, And they shall be My people. 11 “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know YHVH,’ For all will know Me, From the least to the greatest of them. 12 “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.” 

13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews then continues to explain for us the role that Y’Shua plays in relation to the covenants.

Hebrews 12:22–24
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living Elohim, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to YHVH, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Y’Shua, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews also make some indirect references to the covenant by calling it “a better covenant” and “the eternal covenant”.

Hebrews 7:20–22
20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath 21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “YHVH has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’ ”); 22 so much the more also Y’Shua has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Hebrews 13:20–21
20 Now the Elohim of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Y’Shua our Elohim, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Y’Shua the Messiah, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Extra biblical references

We also find a reference to the renewed covenant in one of the non-canonical books. The book of Baruch is an apocryphal book of five chapters. The authorship of the book is attributed to Baruch son of Neriah, who was the scribe/secretary of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer  36:4). The book claims it was written at the time that the Chaldeans (Babylonians) took Jerusalem, and that it was read to  Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah.

Baruch 2:27–35
27 Yet you have dealt with us, YHVH our Elohim, in all your kindness and in all your great compassion, 28 as you spoke by your servant Moses on the day when you commanded him to write your law in the presence of the people of Israel, saying, 29 “If you will not obey my voice, this very great multitude will surely turn into a small number among the nations, where I will scatter them. 30 For I know that they will not obey me, for they are a stiff-necked people. But in the land of their exile they will come to themselves 31 and know that I am YHVH their Elohim. I will give them a heart that obeys and ears that hear; 32 they will praise me in the land of their exile, and will remember my name 33 and turn from their stubbornness and their wicked deeds; for they will remember the ways of their ancestors, who sinned before YHVH. 34 I will bring them again into the land that I swore to give to their ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they will rule over it; and I will increase them, and they will not be diminished. 35 I will make an everlasting covenant with them to be their Elohim and they shall be my people; and I will never again remove my people Israel from the land that I have given them.”

We see that even this book refers to the same key concepts of YHVH being their Elohim and Israel being His people.  It also agrees with some of the text in the Scriptures that refer to the people being given a new heart, and that they will return to the land and be blessed.

Content of the renewed covenant

From the previous section, we have seen that the renewed covenant actually contains a substantial  number of promises.  Let us do a bit of organization to put all the elements together.  This will provide us with a better view of what is contained in the renewed covenant.

Jeremiah 33:14–19
14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares YHVH, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 ‘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. 16 ‘In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: YHVH is our righteousness.’ 17 “For thus says YHVH, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’ ”

Ezekiel 36:25–32
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. 30 “I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares YHVH Elohim, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

If we analyze all the texts that we have seen, we could come up with the following breakdown of the content of the renewed covenant that YHVH makes with Judah and Israel:

Promise

Reference

Prior Reference

1 YHVH will put His law within their hearts Jer 31:33; Jer 37:39; Eze 36:26 Deut 30:6
2 YHVH will be their Elohim Jer 31:33; Jer 37:38; Eze 36:28; Eze 37:27 Exo 6:7; Exo 20:2; Lev 18:2
3 They will be His people Jer 31:33; Jer 37:38; Eze 36:28; Eze 37:27 Exo 6:7; Lev 26:12
4 They will all know Him and not teach each other Jer 31:34
5 YHVH will forgive their iniquity Jer 31:34; Eze 36:25 Exo 34:7; Num 14:18
6 They will sin no more Jer 31:34; Eze 37:24
7 They will be gathered from the lands where they had been driven Jer 32:37 Deut 30:3
8 They will dwell in safety in the land Jer 32:37; Jer 33:16; Eze 36:28; Eze 37:24 Deut 30:5
9 The righteous branch of David will spring forth and rule over His people Jer 33:15; Eze 37:24 Amos 9:11; 2 Chron 13:5; 2 Sam 7:16; 2 Sam 23:5
10 The Levitical priests will never lack a man before YHVH to offer burnt offerings Jer 33:18 Num 18:19
11 YHVH will put His Spirit within them Eze 36:27 Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:28
12 YHVH will not bring famine on them Eze 36:29
13 They will be multiplied Eze 37:26 Deut 30:5
14 YHVH will set His sanctuary in their midst forever Eze 37:26
15 The nations will know that YHVH sanctifies Israel Eze 37:28

It is clear from the list above that there are numerous promises contained in these verses.  We will see later that not all off these promises have been fulfilled yet.

Is it really a covenant?

Unlike the Sinai covenant that we discussed earlier, this one does not follow the characteristic Suzerian structure. It surely does not contain the typical pre-amble that explains the parties involved and their history prior to the covenant. It does, however, contain a number of the elements that we would typically see:

  • parties – Jeremiah 31:31
  • blessings – See the list above
  • blood – Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20;
  • meal – Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:14
  • remembrance – Luke 22:19

From the text of Jeremiah, we can clearly see that YHVH will make this covenant with Judah and Israel.  We read in Ezekiel 37, that these two will be joined together again as one nation on the mountains of Israel, and that they will have one king to rule over them.  The prophecies in Jeremiah 33:15 then support Ezekiel 37:24 of to confirm that this king will be David. There is also currently an interpretation that states that “the righteous branch of David” is a reference to Y’Shua, who was from the line of David, who will come to rule again as the King over all on earth. This is further supported by Psalm 89:19-29 that promises David a throne forever.  Although this is completely aligned with the reference in Jeremiah 33:15, it is difficult to reconcile with Ezekiel, who specifies that it will be David, not a descendent of David:

Ezekiel 37:24–25
24My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. 25 “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.

Y’Shua and the Renewed Covenant

Earlier, I explained that there is some uncertainty as to the precise words that Y’Shua spoke during the last meal.  The two eye witnesses of the event did not use the term “the new covenant in My blood” but simply “My blood of the covenant.”  Luke and Paul, who weren’t eyewitnesses did add this to their accounts of what was spoken. We can assume that Luke got the wording from Paul. The most common view of what Paul was teaching is that the death, resurrection and ascension of Y’Shua did away with the Law is now being questioned.  Even within the academic circles of Christianity this debate has been raging for a while.  The “new perspective on Paul” is being taken by more Protestant scholars. In this new perspective, they are focusing on reading the works of Paul with a lot more of a “Jewish” view of the first century.  One key point that they emphasize is that it is wrong to think of Judaism as a single unit.  Within Judaism of the period, many different views existed.   Here is a well-written summary from Wikipedia 2:

Thus, the “new perspective” is an attempt to lift Paul’s letters out of the Lutheran/Reformed framework and interpret them based on what is said to be an understandY'Shua Jesus is the advocate of the Renewed New Covenanting of first-century Judaism, taken on its own terms.

This is important to us due to the view that they are now putting forward regarding the “Works of the Law.” Here is some more explanation from Wikipedia:

Paul’s letters contain a substantial amount of criticism of “works of the law”. The radical difference in these two interpretations of what Paul meant by “works of the law” is the most consistent distinguishing feature between the two perspectives. The old perspective interprets this phrase as referring to human effort to do good works in order to meet God’s standards. In this view, Paul is arguing against the idea that humans can merit salvation from God by their good works (note that the New Perspective agrees that we cannot merit salvation; the issue is what exactly Paul is addressing).
By contrast, new-perspective scholars see Paul as talking about “badges of covenant membership” or criticizing Gentile believers who had begun to rely on the Torah to reckon Jewish kinship.

The new view of what Paul was talking about when he referred to the “works of the Law”also has its own name: “covenantal nomism.” This view states that:

Covenantal nomism, in opposition to merit theology, is the belief that 1st century Palestinian Jews did not believe in works righteousness. Essentially, it is the belief that one is brought into the Abrahamic covenant through birth and stays in the covenant through works. E. P. Sanders and other proponents of Covenantal nomism do not ask the question of whether this is simply another type of works righteousness, since works are necessary to maintain standing in the covenant. It suggests that the Jewish view of relationship with God is that keeping the law is based only on a prior understanding of relationship with God.

The “structure” of covenantal nomism can be described as the follow:
(1) God has chosen Israel and (2) given the law. The law implies both (3) God’s promise to maintain the election and (4) the requirement to obey. (5) God rewards obedience and punishes transgression. (6) The law provides for means of atonement and atonement results in (7) maintenance or re-establishment of the covenantal relationship. (8) All those who are maintained in the covenant by obedience, atonement and God’s mercy belong to the group that will be saved.
An important interpretation of the first and last points is that election and, ultimately, salvation are considered to be by God’s mercy rather than human achievement.

Thus, we see the Protestant scholars also starting to discuss the previously held views.  The view that what we do makes no difference, is now being questioned. This implies that they should also question their view on what Paul’s view was on the previous covenants.

This view is strongly supported from Scripture by Y’Shua’s own words.

Matthew 5:17–19
17Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For Y’Shua there was no idea of the commandments (included within the Sinai covenant) being abolished or annulled. So if Y’Shua’s ascension did not take away the Sinai covenant, then what did it actually achieve for us? Let’s look at the information we can find in the letter to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 8:4–6
4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by YHVH when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

From this first there are two key points to consider.  The first is again related to paying attention to the tenses of verbs.  The first point from the verse is that Y’Shua would not be a priest if He was on earth. This is a bit different from the typical teachings we hear that states He wasn’t a priest when He was on earth.  The difference in these two views have a significant impact on the discussion about the Levitical priesthood coming to an end.  According to the tenses of the words being used, this is not what the author is saying. he is simply stating that after the ascension of Y’Shua, the Levitical priests were still the only priests on earth in YHVH’s service.

The second point the author raises is that Y’Shua is the mediator of a better covenant. Paul uses the same term in his letter to Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:5–6
5 For there is one Elohim, and one mediator also between YHVH and men, the man Y’Shua the Messiah, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary3 defines a mediator as “a person that mediates between parties at variance.” The two parties here would be YHVH and His people. Eerdman’s Bible dictionary makes the definition a bit wider:

A person who stands between two parties to reconcile their differences or to establish a relationship between them.4

Thus, we see that after the ascension of Y’Shua we now have Him to mediate the differences between us and YHVH and also to establish a relationship. How does Y’Shua then do this? Via His life that He sacrificed for us as the full price of the redemption.

Hebrews 9:15
15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

The author of Hebrews already explained the point about the relationship. Y’Shua can save all whom draw near to YHVH through Him.  Not only His people, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but anybody who chooses to draw near will be saved.

Hebrews 7:25
25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to YHVH through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

This concept of Y’Shua drawing the gentiles into the covenants, is what Paul explains in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:11–13
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without YHVH in the world. 13 But now in Y’Shua Messiah you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah.Renewed Covenant - Puzzle pieces

Thus, we see that the death, resurrection and ascension of Y’Shua have changed the members of the commonwealth of Israel (relationship) and has also reconciled the gap (sin) between YHVH and the commonwealth of Israel. It has not yet removed sin from this world, but He has paid the full redemption price and thereby bought us free.

What is the current state of the Renewed Covenant

By simply looking at the elements of the covenant, as discussed earlier, it is very clear to see that all the promises of the covenant have not yet been fulfilled. I do not believe that the following parts of the covenant have been fulfilled yet:

  • They will all know Him and not teach each other
  • They will sin no more
  • They will be gathered from the lands where they had been driven
  • They will dwell in safety in the land
  • The righteous branch of David will spring forth and rule over His people
  • YHVH will set His sanctuary in their midst forever

However, we have seen that the death, resurrection and ascension of Y’Shua did make a change. Thus, the only conclusion that we would be able to make is that it has been started but not yet established!  This will not be the first time that a covenant is started before being established. The Sinai covenant promised that the Israelites would become YHVH’s people.  When did this happen?  When the commandments were given at Sinai, and the blood sprinkled. We recognize that YHVH saw them as His people long before this event.

Exodus 3:7–8
7 YHVH said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8 “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

The covenant started when the people were taken out of Egypt, and the first born were saved by the blood of the lamb.  In the same way, the salvation according to the Renewed Covenant started when Y’Shua gave himself as our kinsman redeemer and died for our sins.  The Renewed Covenant will only be fully established once Messiah returns, reunites the Houses and return them to the Land.

Has it replaced the previous Covenant(s)?

Based on the facts that we have seen here, it is clear to me, that Y’Shua and His apostles did not see Him initiating a covenant that replaced the previous covenants.  There are some more ways to illustrate this point. Let us look at what the Scripture says should happen to anybody that says the commandments should not longer be followed:

Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5
32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it. 1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for YHVH your Elohim is testing you to find out if you love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 “You shall follow YHVH your Elohim and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against YHVH your Elohim who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which YHVH your Elohim commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.

If Jeremiah was prophesying that a time will come where the people no longer have to follow the commandments, due to the renewed covenant, would that not have made him a false prophet? Would he not have been counseling rebellion against YHVH?

Lots of people try to twist the words of Paul to show he taught we no longer need to keep the commandments and that the Sinai covenant has come to an end.  This is nothing new.  It started only a couple of years after Paul originally wrote these letters.  The Apostle Peter was already warning people about this deception.

2 Peter 3:14–17
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of YHVH as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,

It is very interesting to see that the author of Hebrews never refers to an “old covenant.” He simply refers to the “first” in Heb 8:7, 9:1, 9:15, 9:18.  Please also take note that the word “covenant” does not appear thoughout the source text. The implies that the author simply saw the previous as preceding the current, not being replaced by the current. It is also very important to look at the tenses of the verbs that the author uses in this key verse.  He mentions that the first is “is ready to disappear.” This does not indicate that at the time of the letter to the Hebrews being written that the first already disappeared! The letter to the Hebrews was written after the resurrection of Y’Shua.  If the resurrection and ascension of Y’Shua had annulled the first, the tenses of the verbs would have been different. To get a better understanding of what is going on in the letter to the Hebrews, please study the article that we wrote as part of the series on Bible study on Jewish  hermeneutics in the Apostolic Scriptures. Take note of what Kal vaHomer (Light to Heavy) is used for.  Then search the letter to the Hebrews to see how many times you find phrases like “how much more/severer,” “For if x how y” and  “shall we not much rather” being used.  This should give you a clue as to how to read the letter to the Hebrews.

Conclusion

Based on what we could find in Scripture, clearly this is a renewed covenant.  It still contains large parts of what was promised in the Abrahamic and Sinai covenants.  We see that according to Jeremiah, this covenant is between YHVH and Israel & Judah. Through the mediation of Y’Shua the gentiles have also been brought into the commonwealth of Israel and will share in the blessings and curses with Israel & Judah.

Y’Shua did not believe that His purpose was to take away the Law.  He taught that not even the least of the laws would be annulled and anybody who does so would be the least in heaven. His disciples continued to keep the laws and the apostle Paul still went to the temple to make a sin offering ( Acts 21:26 ). Thus even Paul believed that the commandments were in force after the ascension of Y’Shua. He did not believe  a renewed covenant had now been made that annulled the first. Thus, the sacrificial system and commandments were still in place.  Peter warns us that a lot of people twist the words of Paul to say something that Paul did himself not believe or do.

Although the Renewed Covenant has been started, it has not yet been fully established.  A number of the promises of the Renewed covenant have not yet come to pass.  We await the return of our Messiah to establish this covenant.

References

  1. Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). electronic ed. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul
  3. Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.
  4. Leschert, D. F. (2000). Mediator. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers & A. B. Beck, Ed.) (878). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
Spread the word:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Reddit Email Linkedin

Further reading

Tags: , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Comments (4)

  • Daniel

    |

    Love to hear the truth preached and lived. Appreciate the encouragement and the challenge to live the word.

    Reply

  • Jackie

    |

    Why would they continue the sacrifices?
    Great study!

    Reply

  • Sherri Stadel

    |

    I love this study and I hope and pray my family will finally understand. Thank you.

    Reply

Leave a comment

Subscribe to get notified of new posts!

  • Around 1 e-mail per week
  • We do not share your information
  • Our Privacy policy can be found here - http://www.setapartpeople.com/privacy-policy