6. The New Covenant

As mentioned earlier, this covenant was made with Israel at Mount Sinai, some 430 years after the covenant made with Abraham. But Jeremiah, in the middle of the 7th century B.C., prophesied of a new covenant that would be unlike the Mosaic Covenant. This is found in Jeremiah 31.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is being prophesied here, and the Holy Spirit is able to put God's will within the believer so that a life pleasing to God may be lived. This new covenant can be found in Hebrews 8 and Galatians 3.

The New Covenant has general principles rather than detailed laws. Hebrews 8:9 says the New Covenant is not like the old. In the Old Covenant everything was laid out in minute detail, as a parent would spell out detailed rules for their young children who cannot at their level of maturity understand the general principles behind the rules. However, the New Covenant is set forth as given to sons who know what their Father is doing. The Old Covenant made provision for forgiveness and grace was present, but its focus was on the law. In contrast, while the New Covenant has laws, its focus is on Jesus and the grace He offers us as a result of His life, death, and resurrection. (6)

The New Covenant includes all of the moral laws of the Old Covenant, but not in the Old Covenant form. Instead of volumes of detailed laws, the New Covenant gives a few basic principles falling under the one chief moral commandment of "Love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13:34). Under the New Covenant we also have civil duties. These principles would include how the Christian is to relate to society and the governing authorities, and would include interpretations and applications of New Covenant principles to the specific time and culture. And, of course, under the New Covenant we also have the Gospel, which deals with Christ's life, death, and resurrection and how we participate in that finished work.

In the Old Covenant only key leaders were filled with the Holy Spirit and had a personal knowledge of God. However, in the New Covenant all are to know God personally and be taught by Him. The Old Covenant was limited to the sons of Israel and those who would join themselves to the LORD by being circumcised and keeping the Sabbath (signs of the Old Covenant), thus coming under the Old Covenant law. And if one were to refer to a Bible concordance, such as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, one would find that the majority of Biblical texts in the Old Testament regarding the Sabbath after the book of Deuteronomy deal with the people of Israel neglecting or profaning the Sabbath, for it was the sign of the Mosaic (or Old) Covenant. And whenever the people of Israel neglected to observe this covenant sign, they faced the judgment of God. By contrast, the New Covenant is good news for everyone. Jew and non-Jew alike. All may join the New Covenant community by believing in Jesus, demonstrating this belief by being baptized (and being sealed by the Holy Spirit) and observing the Lord's Supper (signs of the New Covenant). When someone becomes a Christian, that person is no longer under Old Covenant law. (7)

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