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THE THREE GREAT COVENANTS
CHRISTENDOM in general recognizes only two Covenants, the Old or Law Covenant, with Moses as its mediator, and the New Covenant, with Christ as its Mediator. Christendom may be said to know nothing whatever about the Abrahamic Covenant. When rarely they recognize the Abrahamic Covenant at all, or enter it into their calculations, they identify it with the New Covenant. We all inherited this general line of thought through Sunday-School sermons, commentaries, etc. It is not strange, therefore, that we all had this confused conception of this subject. Gradually, as a part of the light due to the Church in the end of this age, we got to see that there are three Covenants, instead of two, as we first supposed. We got to see that the Abrahamic Covenant, the original one, is the grandest and best of the three, and that from it the other two proceeded. This light upon the Divine purpose we began to set forth in the WATCH TOWER in 1880, and later elaborated the same thought in the Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices. In the latter we set forth that these Covenants are represented in the garments of the High Priest, in the ephod of two parts, with its shoulder-clasps and jeweled breast plate. However, we did not discern so sharply as we now do the clear-cut distinctions between those three Covenants. And is not this
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in full accord with the Lord’s general dealing with us and with all people throughout the age? Is it not his proposition that the “Path of the just shall shine more and more unto the perfect day”? We believe that it is.
GROWING IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE
What we now see still more distinctly it is our duty and privilege to lay before the Household of Faith. We remind you, however, that as it took some of us quite a while to get a proper focus upon the Abrahamic Covenant, it may now take some of us a considerable time to still further differentiate between the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant. Remember also that a clear understanding of every detail of God’s Plan, while desirable, is not necessarily essential to our blessing thereunder. For instance, we believed in the precious blood of Christ and were justified thereby freely from all things, when we did not at all understand the philosophy of the Atonement—even as the majority of Christian people do not understand it now. The increasing knowledge did not bring increasing justification, but it did bring increased appreciation and love and devotion and opportunity for greater harmony with the Divine purposes better understood.
I.—GRACE. II.—LAW. III.—WORKS
St. Paul pointed out to us most distinctly that the original Covenant made with an oath to Abraham was in every way the superior one and that it, being a one-sided Covenant, an unconditional promise, has no mediator. St. Paul tells us that the Law Covenant was “added” to the Abrahamic Covenant in God’s dealing with the nation of Israel. It is called a Law Covenant because the benefits of that Covenant were offered only to those who would keep the Law in all its requirements—inviolate. He calls it the Hagar Covenant, because it was a bondage and because its offspring, the Jewish nation, could not inherit the promised blessings and privileges. He tells us that it made nothing perfect, brought nothing to perfection. Although faith had a place and the grace of God had some manifestation towards Israel, yet neither faith nor grace affected their Covenant, which was hard and fast and demanded obedience to the works of the Law—”He that doeth these things shall live by them.” Since none could do perfectly, that Covenant of works brought only condemnation of their imperfect works. It had a mediator, Moses, but he was unable to accomplish anything for the people, because of their imperfection through heredity. We properly call this the Law Covenant.
The Apostle points that as Hagar’s child was born before Isaac, who represented The Christ, Head and Body, “The New Creation,” so the nation of Israel, Moses and all the people baptized into him in the sea and in the cloud, “The house of servants,” would be developed before Spiritual Israel, the New Creation—Christ and all the members of the house of sons of spirit-begetting.
As the Covenant of Grace (Sarah) existed before the Law Covenant was added to it, so it continued to exist after the Law Covenant was set aside as a Covenant, its prize of life eternal having been won by “the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a Ransom for all.” So, then, the Covenant of Grace (Sarah), which preceded the Law Covenant (Hagar) four hundred and thirty years, continued alive during the whole period of the Law Covenant, but without children, and then brought forth the Head of the Seed, Jesus. The Law Covenant was then cast aside—”Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman”—The Christ, the Heir of the original promise, now being developed. From the Scriptural standpoint the Resurrection is the birth; as, for instance, our Lord is the “First-Born from the dead, the First-Born amongst many brethren,” and “his brethren,” “his members,” “his Bride” (three different names for the “elect” Church), must all be brought forth from the dead, all be “changed” to spirit condition before the Seed of Abraham will be complete.
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“IF YE BE CHRIST’S, THEN ARE YE ABRAHAM’S SEED AND HEIRS.”—GAL. 3:29
This is the Mystery—the selection of the Church as the Bride of Christ during this Gospel Age, to be sharers with their Redeemer in the sufferings of this present time, and also in the glory that shall follow. Hence the Apostle was very solicitous that he might have share in “His Resurrection,” The Christ Resurrection, “The First Resurrection.” Not until that “First Resurrection” is finished will the Seed of the Sarah Covenant be fully born. This is quite in accord with the prophetic statement, “Shall I bring to the birth (deliver the Head), and not cause to come forth (the Body).” (Isa. 66:9.) The intimation is that so surely as Jesus, the Head of the Body, was brought forth in the Resurrection, born from the dead, so surely will all the members of his Body share with him his glorious “change” from mortality to immortality, from earthly to heavenly nature.
What about the Jews under the Law (Hagar) Covenant? Were they on that account cut off from the very privileges and blessings which they so desired—of being Abraham’s Seed and heirs according to the promise? We answer, Yes. The Apostle shows that the children of the bond-woman could not be heirs with the children of the free-woman. How, then, did the apostles and others, who were of Israel according to the flesh, come into relationship with Christ and the Sarah Covenant (of grace)? The Apostle tells us that as a human marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the parties, so those of the Jews who could recognize by faith that Christ’s death had fulfilled the terms of the Law Covenant could realize that that Covenant was dead, and hence, that they were freed from it and could become married to another—united to Christ. On the contrary any Jew who does not recognize that Christ, by his death, has “made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross,” and who still continues to believe in that Covenant, is as firmly bound thereby as though the Covenant were still alive; just as a woman whose husband was really dead, but she thought him alive, could not conscientiously marry another.
“WHEN I SHALL TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS”
The Apostle explains that all of that nation who lacked proper faith in Christ were cast off, “blinded,” not forever, but until the completion of the House of Sons, the New Creation, the spirit members of the spiritual Body of spiritual Israel—The Christ. Ah! but, says one, if they be cast off, “blinded,” until the elect Church is complete, then they can have no part in it; and, being under the conditions of the Hagar (Law) Covenant, will they not be in an unsatisfactory state, under a New Covenant? And according to this evidence, did not God rather deceive the nation of Israel, when he entered into the Law Covenant with them at Sinai, knowing that they could not keep it, and could not get life under it, and yet permitting them, so supposing, to put themselves under that bondage? Are not the Lord’s ways just and equal?
Yes, we answer, and the full scope of the Divine purpose when seen is glorious in its harmony. The difficulty in the past has been that we have seen as through an obscured glass, and not face to face. Now we perceive that God intends to recognize two seeds of Abraham, the one heavenly, like unto the stars of heaven; the other earthly, like unto the sands of the seashore. The attempt of the Law Covenant to bring forth the natural seed first was abortive—a failure. First must come the spiritual Christ, Head and Body, partaker of the divine nature, heir of all things. Then God’s favor will return to natural Israel. But since the Law Covenant completed its purpose and was demonstrated to be unavailable for them, because of the weaknesses of the flesh, God purposes to make with that nation, and with that nation alone, a New Covenant. Not a single statement of Scripture identifies the New Covenant with the Gentiles. On the contrary, it is Israel’s New Covenant given to displace the Old or Law Covenant. Let us note well that the great mass of the early Church were Hebrews and that the Apostle’s references to the New Covenant are almost exclusively in his epistle to the Hebrews. One exception is in Rom. 11:27, where the Apostle, although addressing Christians of Gentile birth, tells them that natural Israel was cast off for their sakes, but is still beloved for the fathers’ sake, and is again to have Divine favor, under a special Covenant. The other (2 Cor. 3:6) refers to the royal priesthood as able (qualified) servants of the New Covenant—dying with Christ for its sealing.—Mal. 3:1.
The more closely we investigate the New Covenant, the more we must be convinced of this fact—that it belongs to Israel alone, including the two nations into which they divided at the death of Solomon—Israel and Judah. Note the statement of the Prophet, “Behold the days will come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the Covenant [the Law Covenant] which I made with them when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt.” The Apostle, endeavoring to prove to the Jews that they could gain nothing under the Law Covenant, points out this prophecy, and tells them that the fact that God speaks of this as a New Covenant implies that a preceding [Law] Covenant had become old, valueless, and was preparing to pass away—”In that he saith, a New Covenant, he hath made the first old; now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”—Heb. 8:13.
THE OATH-BOUND COVENANT SURE—HEB. 6:17-20
The New Covenant is to take the place of the old and unsatisfactory one. There were two old Covenants, the Grace, or Sarah Covenant, and the Law, or Hagar Covenant. Which did the Apostle mean had grown old, valueless, and would pass away and give place to the New Covenant? Surely there can be no doubt or misunderstanding on this point.
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He meant the Law Covenant, for he says so. He did not mean the original Grace or Sarah Covenant, for he points out that our claim to relationship to God is under that original Covenant, as members of the Body of Christ, members of the Bride of Christ, Joint-Heirs with him. Our Lord Jesus, by his obedience, became heir of all, heir of the original Covenant and heir also of the Law Covenant. Of the people there was none with him, neither Jews nor Gentiles. But by the grace of God there was provision made, as we have seen, that any Jew, seeing that the Law Covenant was dead, nailed to the cross, might become betrothed to Christ. They did not need to wait for the New Covenant, the provisions of which apply only to those on the earthly plane. Instead, by a faith justification and a consecration unto death, they were counted worthy of begetting to the new nature—betrothal to Christ. And similarly Gentiles, favored of God by the hearing ear and seeing eye of faith, were subsequently privileged to go through the same process, except that they did not need to reckon themselves dead to the Law Covenant, because they never were under it. Otherwise, recognizing Christ’s death as the blood of the original Covenant, typified by Abraham’s offering up his son, these also were reckoned justified and, presenting their justified bodies to the Lord as sacrifices, they were begotten of the same holy Spirit as the Jews, to be fellow-members of the same Body—the Body of Christ.
We come now to the other part of the question: What provision has God made for those Jews who bound themselves under the Law Covenant, from Moses’ day down to the first advent; and for those who since then have not discerned the death of the Law Covenant and who will not be made aware of it until after the spiritual Seed shall have been completed and glorified? If they have not lost all share and privileges in connection with God’s special mercies, where do they come in? We answer that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others before
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the Law Covenant were not bound by it, yet were not in the fullest sense justified to life until the Abrahamic Covenant had been established at Calvary. Their faith, then, entitled them to a share in the merits of that sacrifice. Likewise throughout the period of the Law Covenant, before it was annulled at the cross, there were Ancient Worthies who lived above the masses of their time, and who, although bound by the Law, had above it a living faith in the original Oath-Bound (Sarah) Covenant of Grace. These in the Divine records were entitled to their share of that grace, as soon as the merit of Calvary’s sacrifice had been presented on behalf of believers, when Jesus “ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Although they lived while the Law Covenant was alive, they foresaw its death and trusted not in it, but in the superior Covenant of Grace. Hence these in due time will come forth to a life resurrection, not because of their relationship to the Law Covenant, under which they lived, nor because of their relationship to the New Covenant, of which some of them knew nothing, but because of their relationship to and faith in the original (Sarah) Covenant of Grace.
Thus the Scriptures account for the faithful ones of the past under the Covenant of Grace. But what now shall we say respecting those earthly Israelites, who lived not on that higher plane of faith, but of whom the Apostle says, “Our twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night hope to come” unto this promise. (Acts 26:7.) Were they all deceived? Will they get those special blessings?
GOD’S GIFTS AND CALLINGS SURE—ROM. 11:29-32
Nay, we answer, the gifts and calling of God are things not to be repented of. He who knew the end from the beginning knew exactly what Israel would be and do, and was not disappointed, and all of the plans and promises to that nation were made from the standpoint of this knowledge. Although the chief feature of the Sarah Covenant was secured by our Lord Jesus as a trophy of his victory over sin and death, and although he laid down his human nature completely to this end, nevertheless the Divine arrangement is such that the blood of Christ, the merit of his sacrifice of earthly things, must accrue to the benefit of the natural seed of Abraham, because it all goes to seal the New Covenant, which belongs exclusively to fleshly Israel. The opportunity granted to both the Jews and Gentiles to become Joint-Heirs with the Redeemer was based upon their offering themselves to him in sacrifice, and his acceptance of their offerings as his own—his sacrificing them throughout this age as his own flesh—and God’s acceptance of them as New Creatures, begotten of the Spirit, as brethren of Christ, or the betrothed of Christ, or members of his Body. Only by thus sharing with our Lord, drinking his cup, being baptized into his baptism of death, surrendering all into his hand, can we have fellowship with him in his sufferings; and his death (including ours) seals the New Covenant in his blood, of which he said, “Drink ye all of it.” In his cup we are partakers, joint-sacrificers.—1 Cor. 10:16.
Thus while natural Israel had been counted enemies for our sakes, for the Gospel’s sake, our only opportunity for gaining the great prize is in connection with the sealing of a New Covenant between God and Israel. How beautifully the features of the Divine program balance! Their loss was our gain, and our gain through sacrifice becomes their gain; and, altogether, the Lord will be glorified!
As already shown, the New Covenant will not be sealed, ratified, until the sacrifices of The Christ shall have been finished. And the finishing of these sacrifices closes the work of this great Day of Sacrifice and Atonement. With the second presentation of the blood of Atonement in the Most Holy, at the end of this age, the New Covenant with Israel will be sealed, and the blessing of the Lord will begin to Israel, “For this is my Covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.”—Rom. 11:27.
ABRAHAM’S TWO SEEDS
Not only did the original promise indicate two seeds of Abraham—one as the stars of heaven, and the other as the sands of the sea—but St. Paul elaborates this thought, saying of the promise, “It is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (including you who are Romans); as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations.” We have seen how Abraham, as a type of God, is the father of the spiritual Seed and how through Christ, by the provision of the New Covenant, the Jewish nation, dead under the Law Covenant, is to be regenerated by The Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant; and that this regeneration will commence at the close of this Gospel Age and the opening of the Millennial Age. But these are only two—”the (Church) holy nation,” and the (Jewish) chosen nation. How do all nations come in? It will not do to say the Body of Christ, the Bride class, fulfils this prophecy, because, although they were taken out of the nations, they are not all nations, and do not even represent all nations. Each first died to his earthly estate and nationality, before he was begotten of the holy Spirit to be a member of the holy nation, the New Creation.
The Scriptures distinctly show that Christ and his Church, spirit beings, must constitute the Kingdom class, but they also show that the Ancient Worthies, and through them the nation of Israel under the New Covenant, will become the representatives of the heavenly Kingdom amongst men. It will be with these that the blessing of the Lord in the Millennial morning will begin. Thus we read of Jacob’s trouble, that he shall be saved out of it and that the Lord will restore their judges as at the first, and their law-givers as at the beginning—the Ancient Worthies resurrected on the earthly plane. (Jer. 30:7; Zech. 12:7.) The New Covenant will be the Law Covenant over again, only that it will have the better Mediator—The Christ, Head and Body, who will be able to make allowances for the imperfections of Israel’s heredity. The sins of the past will all be forgiven, their physical blemishes waiting for restitution. They will be dealt with according to what they are, allowances being made in each individual case, and each will be required to heed the voice of the antitypical Moses. “And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not heed that Prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from amongst the people.”—Acts 3:23.
HOPE FOR THE MANY NATIONS
Since God’s favors are thus marked out for the heavenly and the earthly Seeds of Abraham—the earthly through the heavenly—it follows that the blessing of the other nations will come about through their affiliation with these. In other words, we may understand that the Divine Government established in Israel in the hands of the Ancient Worthies will be the center of Divine favor, and the people of other nationalities must come to this center for their supplies of truth and grace. Thus the Prophet represents the matter, saying, “Many nations shall go and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain (Kingdom) of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the Law shall go forth from Mount Zion (the spiritual Kingdom) and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the center of the earthly Kingdom).”—Micah 4:2.
As thus all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues shall be brought gradually to an appreciation of the Divine Plan; they shall all be blessed with Restitution privileges and opportunities and with an enlightenment from the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, which then through the appointed channels will be flooding all the earth. Thus will the original Covenant
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have its amplified fulfilment; first, in The Christ, the spiritual Israel; secondly, under the New Covenant with Israel after the flesh; and through these bless all the families of the earth, so that all the willing and obedient may gradually attain to the standards of the children of God and be possessed of the “liberties of the sons of God”—freedom from sin, sorrow, pain and death. As the old Law Covenant was with Israel only, so the New (Law) Covenant will be with Israel only. Other nations will share it by becoming Israelites, “Proselytes of the gate,” not under the old but under the New Covenant. (Ezek. 16:60,61.) “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.”
“Know your calling.” Let us who have accepted the Divine call in Christ bear in mind that, according to the Apostle’s declaration, we are the children of the Sarah Covenant. We are the Bride of Isaac, and his Joint-Heirs, of whom it is written, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s Seed and heirs according to the promise.” Our only relationship to the New Covenant is that the Father drew us to Jesus and Jesus covered us with his robe of righteousness and thus made it possible for us to be called to joint-fellowship with himself in the “better sacrifices,” participation in the “cup” of suffering and death—”the blood of the New Covenant”—for the sealing of the New Covenant for Israel, under which all the families of the earth will get a blessing. Thus in the divine purpose our Lord’s death or blood justified the Church and (with the Church’s) will seal the New Covenant for Israel and through Israel will become effective to all of Adam’s race. “As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive—every man in his own order.”
The Church comes into Christ as his Members or Body or Bride. Israel will come into The Christ family as children. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children.” And this same privilege shall extend to all—to become regenerated “in the regeneration” when we shall sit with him on his throne.
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant are Scripturally styled “The Everlasting Covenant,” in contrast with the Law Covenant, which passed away, a failure because of its “unprofitableness.” (Heb. 7:18.) The one is perpetuated in the other, even as the spiritual Seed (spiritual Israel) will rule and bless through the earthly Seed (fleshly Israel). Note the Scripture testimony that the original Grace (or Sarah) Covenant is everlasting. (Gen. 17:7,13,19; 2 Sam. 23:5; Psa. 105:8-10.) Note other Scriptures which apply the same term prophetically to the New Covenant. (Jer. 32:40; 31:31,32; Ezk. 16:60.) Note carefully the context in each instance, that the reference is to the Millennium.
THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
The blood of the Everlasting Covenant is the “blood of Jesus,” his sacrifice, through the merit of which believers are now “justified by faith” under the Grace or Sarah Covenant (not by the New Covenant which does not yet exist and which is to be made only with Israel). And the blood or sacrifice of Jesus is “the blood of the New Covenant,” yet to be established with Fleshly Israel, just the same only that by the Father’s good pleasure Jesus is now accepting the “little flock” as his members and counting their sacrifice or blood as a part of his own.
Note how this is set forth in Isaiah 55:1-3. Here believers of this Gospel Age are described as those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Under the Father’s drawing they come to Jesus now. They are not of those who, blind and deaf under Satan’s power, love darkness rather than light and will need the Kingdom regulations and corrections to make them bow and confess, under the New Covenant arrangement with Israel and indirectly with all nations.
To these hungry, thirsty, seeing, hearing, believers the Lord offers the “fatness” or cream of the Everlasting Covenant, saying, Obey and your soul shall live and I will give unto you the sure or promised mercies of David. David means beloved and is another name for the Redeemer, the antitypical King of Israel by Divine appointment.
This prophecy evidently, therefore, is the prophecy of the call of this Gospel Age to share with Jesus the glory, honor and immortality of the Kingdom. Note the context, “A nation that thou knowest not shalt thou call, and a nation that knew thee not shall run unto thee.” (V. 5.) Unquestionably this is the Church—Spiritual Israel, “a holy nation,” a peculiar people, chosen out of all nations to the heavenly Kingdom of the Millennium.
Note the description of Christ Jesus and his “Body” in Isaiah 42:1-7. Note that Messiah is “given” for [sacrificed in the interest of] a Covenant to the people (Israel) and for a light to the nations or heathen, to enable them all to come in that light under the blessings of Israel’s New Covenant.
Come now to Hebrews 13:20, “Now the God of peace who brought again from the dead the Great Shepherd of the sheep (Jesus), through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant make you perfect.” Does this refer to our justification from Adamic guilt and reconciliation to God? Not at all. The Father will have nothing to do with us (except to “draw” us to Jesus for justification and consecration) until after our justification. Then his mighty power which brought our Great Shepherd from the tomb to glory and immortality begins to mightily “work in us to will and to do his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13.) If we abide in his love he will perfect us as New Creatures by the privileges granted us of sharing in the sufferings of Christ—participating in the shedding of the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, which as the New Covenant will bring blessings to Israel and then to the world. The Greek word here rendered “perfect you” signifies “knit you together,” that is, make you completely one with the Shepherd as his “members” both in sufferings and in glory to follow.
Note also that in Hebrews 10:29 it is the blood of the Covenant that sanctified and not the blood that justified that, sinned against, merits the Second Death. We were justified by faith in the blood of Jesus. We were sanctified by our consecration to drink of his cup—the blood of the New Covenant. Only those who have gone on to this second degree and presented themselves as sacrificers (Romans 12:1) and have been accepted or sanctified by the begetting of the holy Spirit, as members of the “Body” of Christ and sons of the Highest, can commit the sin unto death. “If any man [thus presented and sanctified] draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back unto perdition”—Second Death.—Heb. 10:39.
Let us now briefly refer to all the Scriptures which mention the New Covenant, that we may note their full harmony with the foregoing. We have already examined the one statement connected with our text and see that it applies to the closing of this age—a shaking of the nations and everything out of harmony with God, preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom, as the foundation of the New Covenant blessings to the world during the Millennium. There are just eight other texts in the New Testament which refer to the New Covenant:
(1) “For this cause he is made Mediator of a better Covenant [not better than the Grace or Sarah Covenant, but better than the Law Covenant], which was established upon better promises.” ( 8:6.) Our Lord Jesus had already begun the work necessary to his fulfilling this office of Mediator of the New Covenant. He had laid the foundation, but he had not yet accepted to himself all the members the Father intended and foreknew and predestinated. We notice from the context that the contrast still is between the Law
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Covenant and its Mediator Moses, and the New Covenant, superior because of its better Mediator, the Messiah. Moses could offer only imperfect sacrifices, but Christ, by antitypical sacrifices of the bullock and goat (himself and his Body), makes satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and prepares to mediate the New Covenant, which God has promised shall be his channel for blessing Israel and the world.
(2) In the succeeding verse (8) the Apostle supports his argument by a quotation from the Old Testament promise to Israel of a New Covenant, saying, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Clearly this does not refer to Spiritual Israel.
(3) Neither does the next reference to the New Covenant, which is a part of the same quotation from Jer. 31:31, refer to Spiritual Israel—”Not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers … For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”—Heb. 8:8-10.
The days referred to in the above are “after” the days of this Gospel Age. The Apostle goes on to say, “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me from the least to the greatest, and I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” This is a description of what will take place during the Millennium, and not a description of what we see about us today. God has not yet put his laws into the hearts of the house of Israel, and they are not his people, as he states they will be at the proper time in the end of this age when the New Covenant becomes operative. Compare Acts 15:15.
(4) “In that he saith, a New Covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Notice that the Apostle is not saying one word about the New Covenant being for the Church of Christ. His readers understood very well that they came
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in under the Sarah Covenant. But certain Judaizing teachers insisted that they must be under the Hagar Covenant, as well as under the Sarah Covenant. And this is what the Apostle is disputing. He is making clear that the (Hagar) Law Covenant would not continue, but perish, and that, in God’s due time, he would provide a New Covenant to take its place with Israel.
(5) It was necessary that Jews be redeemed from the “dead works” of the old Law Covenant and that a New one be made for them by Christ—Head and members. The old one was sealed by the blood of bulls and goats, but the New one by “better sacrifices.” Antitypically the blood of the bullock has been offered, and soon that of the goat will be presented.—Heb. 9:14-23.
(6) “This is the Covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now, where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Heb. 10:16-18.) The Apostle is arguing along general lines. He would have his hearers understand that when an acceptable sacrifice has been offered to God for sins, the transaction is a closed one, and the sacrifice needs no repetition. He shows that this will be so in the future for the world. When the “better sacrifices,” sealing the New Covenant, shall have been offered to God by our Redeemer, and accepted by him, it will mean the cancellation of all condemnation. On the strength of this work for the future the Apostle urges that we, the Body of Christ, whose sins have been atoned for by our Lord, the first sacrifice of the Day of Atonement (in the type the bullock), may count that our sins are completely cancelled, and will be remembered against us no more. “For by one offering he (Christ) hath perfected forever them that are sanctified”: all justified by faith, who proceed to full consecration and sanctification. If numbered amongst the sanctified, we may know that our sins are completely obliterated from the Divine record, so far as justice is concerned, and that we have entered upon a new record as New Creatures and will be held accountable only for trespasses against our covenant to the Lord, our vow—by which we became members of the Christ, the Seed of Abraham, and heirs of the great (Sarah) Covenant of Grace.
(7) “For this is my Covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the elect, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake.” (Rom. 11:27,28.) There is no room to doubt that the Apostle here is referring to Israel’s Covenant, the New Covenant, which God will make with them after this Gospel Day. The Apostle says the Covenant will be made when, or at the time that the Lord will “take away their sins.” That time has not yet come. Israel is still under Divine condemnation, though we are now privileged to speak comfortably unto them and to assure them that the time for their deliverance is nigh, the time when the Mediator of the New Covenant will have taken on the last members of the spirit Body, the Gospel Church, “changed” by the power of the First Resurrection; the time when he will mediate that New Covenant, satisfy the demands of Divine justice on behalf of the world, as he already has satisfied it on behalf of the Church. Then he will become, as previously intended and declared, the great Mediator of the New Covenant between God and mankind in general—the Church being the exception, under the Covenant of Grace. Then will he begin his Millennial Kingdom: “For he must reign until he shall have put all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Then all who drank of his “cup,” the blood [sacrifice] of the New Covenant, as members of the Spiritual Seed, will reign with him.—Gal. 3:29.
(8) “But ye are approached unto Mt. Zion, … to the New Jerusalem, … to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborns, … and to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant and to the blood of sprinkling.” (Heb. 12:24.) Here spiritual Israel is pictured as an army marching and the things at the farther end are seen and to be reached. Jesus reached the end of the way long ago, but the Church of Firstborns is not there yet. Jesus is the Mediator, but he has accepted the Church as his Bride, his Body, and waits for her arrival. The picture shows that the New Law Covenant will be established as the old Law Covenant was, only on a higher plane and through a greater Mediator and by better sacrifices.—Acts 3:23.
Not one of these references to the New Covenant makes the slightest suggestion that it is applicable to the Church. A reference to the original prophecy from which the Apostle quotes shows that it could not apply to the Church, for we there read that the Lord “will take away their stony hearts out of their flesh, and give them an heart of flesh.” This is exactly the Restitution Work which will begin with Israel and extend to all the families of the earth, but it is not at all the work of this Gospel Age, which is far higher. The Lord does not give the “little flock” hearts of flesh, but, justified by faith, allows them to sacrifice the flesh, and begets them to a new nature, the glorious Seed of Abraham, through which all the families of the earth shall be blessed, by the inauguration of the New Covenant, sealed, made operative by the merit of the blood of Christ.
— January 15, 1909 —