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Promises of the New Covenant

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"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." (Heb 8:6)


Does the New Covenant establish a different law?  Based on what this says it doesn't seem to.  It is the promises that come with the covenant from the Creator that have improved.  There is no indication here that the terms for those who would honor the Creator have changed.  Christians are sometimes confused about what is expected from them.  This is because there is confusion about the difference between "My Law" and the Law of Moses.  If one does not understand the difference it would be confusing.

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Heb 8:10)

It is fairly apparent that there were flaws in the Law of Moses.  Some stipulations allowed hard heartedness (Mat 19:7-8).  The Levites were an extra level of administration between humans and their Creator that He never intended.  The Law of God does not include these regulations and stipulations.

But what are the better promises?  Certainly there is a clue in verse twelve.  "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."  Generous forgiveness is a major difference.  

Forgiveness was promised in the Old Covenant too, but it required the sacrifice of usually an animal upon every infraction.  It also required an appearance at the temple, which was most of the time in Jerusalem.  This could be extremely inconvenient and time consuming not to mention expensive.

Infractions under the Sinai covenant could mean the scofflaws death.  That was the default penalty if nothing else was specified.  In some cases restitution could be made.  There is no indication that forgiveness was an option.

"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Heb 9:15)

The New Covenant is intended to supply or support believers in receiving an eternal inheritance.  At first glance this may seem to indicate another better promise, but if we read carefully this may not be so.  First, His death was evidently intended to redeem or pay the penalty for all transgressions of the 'first' covenant, the earlier Old Covenant, too.  So it is applicable or administered retroactively.

Second, the Greek original uses the definite article in connection with 'eternal inheritance'.  When used, this article designates a specific and unique thing, one of a kind. In this context it is like saying "the eternal inheritance for which all Israel has always sought".  

Now Hebrews main focus is on the living believers to whom it is directed.  However, the inclusion of Old Covenant transgressions would indicate that those who lived under the Old Covenant will be included in the promise of eternal inheritance as well.  If their transgressions are covered by the mediator of the New Covenant, why wouldn't they qualify to participate in the promises of the New Covenant as well?

Indeed, the thought that one could receive eternal life was not foreign to Jews.  'And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"' (Luke 10:25)

Job, who most scholars believed lived before Moses, knew there would be at least a resurrection.  "And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:26).

"Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die.  O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction." (Hab 1:12)  Habakkuk understood that there would be a time of judgment.  Why have a judgment if everyone will be condemned?  Haven't all sinned?  Is God a sadist that He wants to make everyone squirm, or is His intent to share with them?  

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6:23).  At the very least people must be given back life if they are to share in anything.  Habakkuk knew that death was temporary.  There was something beyond it.  Of course evil people would be corrected, but it stands to reason the righteous would not be totally ignored.  Some reward would come.  Would it only be temporary?  Could the creator only resurrect them once for a short time?

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1John 3:2).  Long after Jesus death the exact reward of believers was not clear in John's mind.  So it's not clear that John really understood much more than Job did about the next life.

We presume Job was unaware of some things that John knew and of which we are aware.  "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'" (Mat 25:34).  We seem to have a more detailed knowledge of the kingdom God has planned.  However this kingdom is not something intended only for people who lived during the last 2000 years is it?  It seems that preparing people to populate this kingdom was the aim since the foundation of the world, the creation.  This doesn't seem to be a function of the New Covenant specifically.

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1Joh 3:1a) "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father" (Rom 8:15).  We are promised to be made sons of God.  Indeed we are referred to as brothers of Yeshua/Jesus Christ (Heb 2:11, 17).

Being a brother of Messiah is not totally unique to the New Covenant.  "You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you." (Deu 8:5) It is clear that God was attempting to teach ancient Israel to conduct themselves as He would conduct Himself.  One is the child of the one he obeys.  "If you were Abraham‘s children, you would do the works of Abraham" (John 8:39b) "Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice" (Deu 26:17).  God was attempting to make Ancient Israel His children by having them walk in His ways.  This involved keeping His statutes, commandments and judgments.

So the better promises of the New Covenant seem to be summed up in the definition of remission as used by Jesus in Matthew 26:28.  That is the only obvious promise totally unique to the New Covenant.  It provides forgiveness so the believer can be reconciled to God and releases the participant from the continual pulls of sin so they can remain in that condition, reconciled.  There is no totally new standard to follow, but we are given a better example in Yeshua/Jesus and the wherewithal to walk in His way

"This is the genealogy of Noah.  Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Gen 6:9).  "And he blessed Joseph, and said: "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day" (Gen 48:15).

The Patriarchs lived the way the nation of Israel was instructed to live.  God's way and God's law are the same thing.  He asks nothing different of us.  But don't confuse this with the Law of Moses.  There are significant differences although the underlying purpose of each was the same and much is shared between the two.