Songs and Praise
   

 
 
 

Less 159 THE NEW COVENANT

 
Jeremiah 32:37-42; Romans 4:9-16; Hebrews 8:6-13;

Lesson 159 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "For this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promse of eternal inherit¬ance" (Hebrews 9:15).

'But now bath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
'For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
'For finding fault with them, he saith, 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:
'Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
'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:
'And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
'For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
'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' (Hebrews 8:6-13).

God's Perfect Plan

The Plan of Redemption, when unfolded step by step before us, is most 'wonderful. The stages of God's dealings with the peoples of the world,that they might come to know Him as their God and Father, show the mercy and love that only an infinite God could possess. It was often hard for the Israelites, especially in the latter period of their history as a nation, to perceive that their God, the Lord Jehovah, was God of all — that He was no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Many of the Pharisees, and also some of the converts to Christianity in the Apostolic days, clung to the idea that salvation was of and for the Jews alone. They looked upon the people of the Gentile nations as heathen, without hope in this world or in the world to come.


In the beginning, when men fell, God gave the promise of a Redeemer. That this promise was for all men is clearly seen. The Jews dated their beginning from Abraham, calling themselves the children of Abraham (John 8:39; Acts 4:12; 9:7); therefore, the promises for a Deliverer and Redeemer which antedate those given to Abraham must, beyond all doubt or possibility of a question, apply to all men. However. we do not want to infer by this statement that the promises given Abraham, or those given since Abraham's time, apply only to the Jews. The studies we have already taken up relative to the Covenants made with Abraham and the Israelites bear out the truth of the matter very well. 'In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,' was the Covenant-promise given to Abraham (Genesis 12:3).


Christ was slain from the foundation of the world (I Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8) that all men might come to Him. We have seen that there is no limit in the extent or provisions of the perfect Sacrifice made by Him, since it is because of Him and the sacrifice He made, as the Seed of Abraham, that 'all families of the earth' are blessed (Genesis 12:3). We have seen that this includes those who lived prior to Abraham, as well as those who followed him. It. includes Jew and Gentile, bond and free, rich and poor; for the One in whom 'dwelleth all the fulness of the God¬head bodily' is 'all, and in all' (Colossians 2:9; 3:11). Bearing these facts in mind we are able, then, to go deeper into the great Plan of God to see and meditate upon the ample provisions there for the redemption of all mankind.

Steps Leading to the New Covenant

The new Covenant is a great mystery to some. But it need not be un¬fathomable. God's ways are sufficiently plain in all things necessary to our salvation (Isaiah 35:8). At times God may give us an insight into a few depths of His revealed Word that staggers our imagination, it is true; but still these sublime truths are basically as simple as the 'whosoever will' of the Gospel invitation. A brief résumé of God's Plan may serve to help clear up the minds of any who are beclouded in this matter.


God's infinite wisdom — His foreknowledge — revealed the need for a Redeemer before the worlds were formed. He endowed man with free will — the power to choose right and wrong — and nothing can inter¬fere with the exercise of that will on the part of man. Even God Himself cannot change it. Man is sovereign in this one thing. Temptation came; man yielded and sinned, and thereby plunged the whole human race into sin. The promise of the Redeemer was made as soon as the need for that Redeemer was made plain to man (Genesis 3:15). The promise could not have been made prior to that time. There was, in the mind of man, no occasion for a Redeemer when there was no sin, no curse, and no death. From that time on, the plan was carried out step by step.


Some men walked with God and pleased Him during those early days of the world, after the Fall and the resulting Messianic promise (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5, 6). Some men were perfected in the days before the


Tabernacle worship was instituted (Genesis 6:9). God talked with some (Genesis 7:13-21; 9:8-17). We can see, also, that He made covenants with them and asserted His will and righteous judgment. And, logically speak¬ing, He could not assert a judgment, and do so righteously, if He had not first given them a law or principle, the violation of which would bring about that judgment. Men were righteous in those days (Hebrews 11:4). And one blessed man was called the 'Friend of God' (James 2:23).


These and many other instances unequivocally demonstrate that men were justified and sanctified in those days. In fact, the records of their lives are preserved for us as examples of godliness made possible through faith in the God of the Word, as well as faith in the Word of their God.


In that age there were many days when there was 'no open vision' (1 Samuel 3:1). There were times when the spiritual status of those who were supposed to know God was very low indeed (I Kings 19:10). There were times when wickedness and sinfulness abounded to an extent that will be equaled only in the days of the consummation of all things (Genesis 6:5-7 Matthew 24:37, 38). But there were those — the 'little flock' — who found grace in the sight of the Lord (Genesis 6:8), and there was, in spite of the seeming reverses, a gradual upward trend in God's revelation to mankind of His Holy will and Word.


We have seen that God found in Abraham a man whom He could trust. He severely tested that man and drew from him a deep consecration, to determine and demonstrate the great love and trust that a mortal can have for his God (Genesis 22:12; Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19). It was between God. Himself and this man of God that a wonderful Covenant was made, about which we studied earlier in this book. We have already seen that the Covenant with Abraham contained the promise of a great blessing for all families of the earth. We who live in these last days can see, in a certain measure, what this included; and can visualize, to a certain degree, the far-reaching extent of its provisions.


The next step was the Covenant that God made with Israel. It was God's desire that Israel should be 'a kingdom of priests, and an holy na¬tion' (Exodus 19:6), that they should be a 'peculiar treasure' to Him (Exodus 19:5), and an instrument and medium whereby His Covenant Plan was to be unfolded to man and fulfilled in their behalf (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2). They were to be a sanctified nation, representatives of God to a world of sinners. They were supposed to be the medium whereby the Word of God would be revealed to the world. And through the coming of the Messiah in one of their families, there would be brought about a direct fulfillment of God's promises to them.


But how miserably they failed in the calling of God! Hardly were the words, 'All that the LORD hath said will we do,' out of their mouths until they saw the manifestations of God's holy glory; and they cried, 'Let not God speak with us,' and withdrew from the position and place to which God had called them. They had hardly voiced their verbal agree¬ment to the terms of the Covenant that God made with them, when they chose, instead of their God Jehovah, the brazen calves which they made with their own hands (Exodus 24:3-7; 32:1, 4).


God had given His Word — His Covenant with Abraham — and had confirmed it with an oath. He would fulfill that Covenant even if He had to destroy a whole nation in the wilderness and make another from the seed of the godly intercessor, Moses. He could have done that without violating the terms of His Covenant with Abraham (Exodus 32:10). The Messiah must come. The Redeemer must pay the infinite price for the salvation of mankind. God had given His Word, and the Savior would come in spite of the drawing back of the chosen people. If they, as a nation, would fail, they would lose their eternal inheritance and their eternal reward, even though through their entire history the light of God would be kept shining because of the faithfulness of a few individuals who dared fulfill the individual's part of the Covenant-promise.


Among the millions of Israelites that would be born there would be those thousands who would not bow the knee to Baal or kiss his image. There would be the faithful men of God who would seemingly dare to defy an ungodly queen and hide God's prophets that the lives of those godly men might be spared. There would be a faithful Joshua and a courageous Caleb who would bring back a 'good report' when all others doubted God and rebelled at His commandment. There would be a mere youth who, in the days of 'no open vision,' could hear the voice of God and later become Israel's great spiritual leader in a time of crisis. There would be others, raised to places of authority and power, who would destroy the imported idol worship and put away the national sins, and who would then restore the worship of Jehovah to its rightful place and practice. God's Covenants must be fulfilled! Heaven and earth would pass away before one jot or tittle of them would fail!

The New Covenant

Nationally, Israel did draw back. The Law of God, which might have been written on the hearts of His people, as a nation, at Sinai, was never written there. Individuals have received the blessing but the nation miserably failed to 'come up to the help of the Lord' and turned back from following Him We will see in this present course of lessons what bitter consequences it has already brought them, to say nothing of what is ahead for them. Their backslidings and rebellion resulted in their dis¬persion and privations such as no other people in the world have ever endured. They suffered mental anguish and physical pain beyond descrip¬tion through their almost endless persecution since they rejected the One who came to fulfill God's promise in their behalf and in behalf of the whole world.


God has not forgotten His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has not forgotten that Israel is, by calling, His own people. He yearns for them as a father yearns for his son (Jeremiah 31:9). He draws them with cords of love. He pleads with them, as only an infinite Father can plead with an erring child. And He disciplines them, in His mercy for them and because He remembers the Covenant He made with their fathers, attempting by these methods to bring them back to Himself


Here again the infinite wisdom — or foreknowledge — of God reveals itself. In the pages of prophecy He has spoken to us and told us that, because of this discipline and tribulation, a certain portion of the nation will, at the end, look upon Him whom they have pierced and acknowledge Him as their Master and Lord (Zechariah 12:10; 14:16-21). God can see ahead and thereby knows that through His long-suffering and patience a remnant will be saved. God has told us that He will make an everlasting Covenant with these who will be saved, and they shall not depart from Him forever. They will be restored to their land — the Promised Land — and there will accept Jesus as their Messiah and become God's people, and He shall be their God.


'Behold, I will gather them [Israel] out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:

 'And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 'And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may
fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
'And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
'Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
'For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them' (Jeremiah 32:37-42).


It is of these — the remnant of the Israelites — that God is speaking when He says: 'I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people . . . they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more' (Jeremiah 31:33, 34). It is of these that Salaam spoke, when through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he said: 'The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations . . . let my last end be like his [last end]' (Numbers 23:9, 10). It is of these that Moses really spoke when, prophetically, he said: 'Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, 0 Israel: who is like unto thee, 0 people saved by the LORD' (Deuteronomy 33:28, 29). They will receive the same full salvation that Abraham and every other sincere penitent has received when he came in faith, confessing his sins and seeking for God's holiness.


When the Messiah comes in the glory of the conquering King of the Ages, then these former unbelieving, Christ-rejecting, God-dishonoring Israelites, who have been through the Great Tribulation, will look upon Him whom they have pierced and will turn to Him in deep penitence. He will save them! He will redeem them! He will give them the full blessings. of the Covenant-Promises! They will be to Him a people and He will be to them a God. Though lost for hundreds of years because of backslidings, disobedience, and rebellion against God, they will come into their rightful place. They will then have the Law written on their hearts, which joyous privilege has been enjoyed by Christians of every nationality under the provisions of the blessed Atonement, but denied to the great majority of Israel because of their unbelief and rejection of the One who brings that forgiveness and holiness. They will then come into the blessings that are promised and freely given to all who come to the true Prophet, High Priest, and King of kings. They will then be true children of Abraham, even as we who through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant have been grafted into the True Vine and have experienced the pardon for our sins, the sanctifying, cleansing power of the Blood, and the infilling of the blessed Comforter.


'Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.


'How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
'And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:' that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
'And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
'For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
'For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
'Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
'Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end 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' (Romans 4:9-16).


Oh, happy day! The whole creation groans for your bright dawning! What tremendous things will take place when the Jews cry out to their Messiah and are received by Him! God is dealing with the Jews today. He has not cast away His people whom He foreknew (Romans 11:2). The whole nation of Israelites have not, and will not, receive that for which they seek; but the 'election' — the remnant — shall receive it (Romans 11:7). Through their fall, salvation came directly to the Gentiles. The Gentiles have been especially favored of God because the Israelites whom He chose did not follow His will (Romans 11:11). By provoking them to jealousy, God is trying to lead them to Himself 'Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?' (Romans 11:12).


We, the Gentiles, who have enthroned the King of the Kingdom in our hearts, have been made privileged participants in the great Plan. God is dealing with us specially, that He might deal with Israel. He has given us the fullness of His blessings, the things which the prophets of old looked forward to with wonder and anticipation, and which even the angels desired to look into (Matthew 13:17; I Peter 1:9-12). We have re¬ceived the things that God wanted His chosen people to receive that they might be effective ministers to the whole world.


But God is still dealing with the Israelites, as we have seen. It is impossible for us now to imagine what that glad day will mean to the whole creation when He will again be able to look upon them and say that they are truly His people. It is that day for which we strive, for which we live, for which we hope. In that day the curse will be gone and all nature will sing the praises of the Omnipotent and ever-loving, merciful God.


'If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?' (Romans 11:15).

 
   
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