What is the “New Covenant” of God?
Christians typically know that God is a God of promises. When he makes a promise, he keeps it, but not without requiring something on our end of the deal. Throughout the history of the bible, God has remained committed in his promises, while man has fallen short. Let’s summarize the history of these events.
There are two covenants- the “Old Covenant” from the Old Testament, and the “New Covenant” that became available after the death of Christ. Looking to the Old Covenant, this was a covenant that began with Abraham. God gave this covenant to Abraham because he obeyed God’s laws, statutes and commandments.
“And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” ~ Genesis 26:4-5
“For to thee and to thy seed will I give all this land, and I will establish My oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all this land. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thy father obeyed My voice, and kept My charge and My commandments, and My laws, and My ordinances, and My covenant; and now obey My voice and dwell in this land.” ~ Jubilees 24:10-11
He blessed Abraham and said that he would populate the earth out of his seed. Because of Abraham’s obedience to God, God promised that Abraham’s descendents would be His people and He would be their God. Abraham is known as the father of nations because of God’s blessing. Other promises of the covenant were given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and they include:
I will make you a great nation
I will bless you
I will make your name great
You shall be a blessing
I will bless them that bless you
I will curse them that curse you
I will bless all of the families of the earth through you
A dual promise of national greatness, and a spiritual promise of the Messiah for God’s people through whom all of the nations of the world would be blessed
As a “sign in the flesh” of this covenant, they were instructed by God to circumcise their children on the 8th day of life. This is where circumcision came from in the Jewish faith.
Many years later, there came a time when the Israelites ended up being held captive as slaves in Egypt. A man named Moses was chosen by God to lead the people out of captivity. When the Israelites escaped from the captivity of the Egyptians, Moses was given a confirmation of the covenant, when he received the Ten Commandments carved out of stone by God’s own finger at the top of Mount Sinai. God through Moses again told the people, “if you obey my ten commandments (via his voice in Exodus 20) and keep my covenant, you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Jeremiah 7:21-24)
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” ~ Exodus 19:5-6
You notice that this is conditional- “if you obey me.” We must note though, that God’s commandments were known to Moses and the Israelites before they were written in the tables of stone. This is evident in scripture when Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness prior to reaching Mount Sinai where he received the tables of stone. The Israelites were caught disobeying God’s law of the Sabbath, and God scolds Moses:
“And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” ~ Exodus 16:27-29
A careful study of Genesis and Exodus reveals that all of God’s commandments were known and acknowledged centuries prior to Moses receiving the 10 commandments in tables of stone. Moses was instructed to build an ark of gold, that would hold the tables of stone from God, and it was called the “Ark of the Covenant” making crystal clear God’s requirements of the people if they were to receive the inheritance of the promise to Abraham. The people are given a warning of a blessing and a curse:
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” ~ Deuteronomy 11:26-28
When we look at the rest of the Old Testament we can summarize: God gave 12 judges to the people for a time period, yet the people disobeyed God’s commandments turning to idols constantly. God would end up punishing His people because of their disobedience over and over again via the “curse”. Then the people were given Kings to rule over them, beginning when the last judge- the prophet Samuel annointed King Saul. Following King Saul came King David, and his son King Solomon (who built the Temple of God which housed the “Ark of the Covenant”), and as you know the people once again turned towards worshipping idols and turned away from God’s commandments. Solomon had allowed many idols to come into the city because it was a hub for exchange and many nations would trade there. He also was persuaded by his many wives.
Several Kings later, during King Zedekiah’s reign- God sent the prophet Jeremiah to them with a prophecy- that the city would be destroyed by the Babylonians due to their disobedience to His covenant, and the only way the people could save themselves is to become Babylonian slaves. King Zedekiah refused to surrender, many died, many went into captivity, and Solomon’s great temple was destroyed. During this time, Jeremiah also prophecied that the Temple would be rebuilt, and he prophecied of the “New Covenant” that would one day come. As prophecied, the temple was rebuilt in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, and as prophecied we received a New Covenant which came after Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins. The remainder of the Old Testament prophets constantly warned the people to repent of their sins (sin is violating the commandments), or they would be destroyed. Here is what Jeremiah said about the New Covenant:
Prophecy of the New Covenant:
~Jeremiah 31:31-34- 31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, 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. (Ten Commandments) 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for 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 is also noted as giving some background of the original covenant of God:
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.” ~ Jeremiah 7:21-26
You can see that the covenant went from being something outward (identified by circumcision) to something inward (God’s laws would be written into our hearts). The people of the old covenant took the covenant for granted because they figured they were justified by being circumcised. Many failed to truly obey God’s commandments back then, because God’s commandments were not found in their hearts, only in their flesh. With the death of Jesus Christ, came the New Covenant, where not only we are forgiven where we have fallen short, but also through the Holy Spirit, God’s law is written into our hearts and can be seen by all in our obedience to Him. Ezekiel also prophecied about the New Covenant- a time when God restores Israel by putting His spirit into their hearts so that they would be obedient from the heart:
“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.” ~ Ezekiel 11:19-21
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” ~ Ezekiel 36:25-28
These are both prophetic statements. You can see here that this speaks of the Holy Spirit being given to Israel (which we know occurred after the ascension of Christ), and it causes them to walk in God’s statutes and ordinances, because these things of God will be put into their hearts, and their “Stony hearts” would be removed. You can see that under the new covenant, God’s law doesn’t pass away, rather God’s law is obeyed by His people because it is put into the hearts of men through the Holy Spirit. After the death of Jesus, Apostle Paul confirmed the New Covenant in the book of Hebrews. Also prophesied in the Book of Jubilees:
“And after this they will turn to Me in all uprightness and with all (their) heart and with all (their) soul, and I will circumcise the foreskin of their heart and the foreskin of the heart of their seed, and I will create in them a holy spirit, and I will cleanse them so that they shall not turn away from Me from that day unto eternity. And their souls will cleave to Me and to all My commandments, and they will fulfil My commandments, and I will be their Father and they shall be My children. And they all shall be called children of the living God, and every angel and every spirit shall know, yea, they shall know that these are My children, and that I am their Father in uprightness and righteousness, and that I love them” ~ Jubilees 1:22-24
New Covenant Confirmed:
~Hebrews 8:6-13- 6But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he (Jesus) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8For 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: 9Not 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. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws (Torah) 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: 11And 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. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (via Jesus’ sacrifice) 13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
What does Paul mean when he says “And they shalt not teach every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me“? The meaning of “knowing the Lord” can be explained by Apostle John:
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” ~ 1 John 2:3
More detail on the old and new covenant is explained in Hebrews 9 & 10. You can see again- God’s laws are now written into our hearts and into our minds. I know what you are thinking- “I thought the law passed away when Jesus died.” Paul in the Galatians and in other places in the New Testament speaks about “law passing away.” To understand what he is saying, we have to look to God’s entire testimony in the bible. Looking to the Old Testament, the people were given God’s laws and statutes at the time of Abraham, which is when the Old Covenant began. Over 400 years later, God through Moses wrote his law of the covenant in stone (the ten commandments) which would be housed in the “Ark of the Covenant”, and in addition gave Moses “sacrificial (Mosaic & Levitical) laws” of atonement, which were added because of the transgressions of the people. A transgression is a breaking of the law (breaking the ten commandments of God/sin).
“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? it was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” ~ Galatians 3:17-19
We explain this Galatians text in detail on the “Why Follow The Commandments” page of this site. In summary though, “the inheritance” comes from the original promise of God that if we obey his commandments, we will be his people and He will be our God. The “inheritance” DOES NOT come from the sacrifical laws of Moses added 430 years later because of the transgressions of the people. The high priests would go through the custom of sacrificing animals to God in atonement for the sins of the people. When Jesus died, all sacrificial laws came to an end, because he shed his blood for all sins and became the only high priest and mediator of the new covenant. When Paul was speaking to these people in the New Testament, they were still carrying on with sacrificial laws, and they were still viewing circumcision as a keeping of the covenant. Paul was explaining to them that under the New Covenant, sacrificial laws are no longer valid because Jesus shed his blood for all sins, and God’s covenant went from “outward” to “inward” meaning circumcision also wasn’t needed- rather we become “circumcised in heart.” Because God’s chosen now have God’s laws written into their hearts under the new covenant, they conciously choose not to sin (transgress God’s law):
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” ~ 1 John 3:9-10
“For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” ~ Romans 2:11-16
– and Paul even gives a warning about sin after receiving knowledge of the truth:
~ Hebrews 10:26– For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, ~ Hebrews 10:26
This is a hard word to take in, but it is God’s testimony. Believing in Jesus requires us to become transformed to the “New Man”. That means putting off the “Old Man” of sin. The New Man in Jesus Christ walks according to His word, and obeys God’s commandments. Then we must turn to Christ in repentence for where we have fallen short, but if we wilfully disobey God’s commandments knowing the truth, this puts us in a dangerous position. Note: Keep in mind- we are not justified by the Ten Commandments, because of our human nature we are bound to fall short. Even on our best day, we fall short of God’s expectations of us. We are only justified through cleansing and washing ourselves through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who died so that our shortcomings and transgressions of the law could be forgiven, and by constantly rehabilitating our lives to reflect obedience to God. According to the New Covenant, we are to regard these commandments as God’s law and conform our lives in obedience to them as they are written into our hearts. Wilfully and knowingly sinning/transgressing God’s law with the expectation that Jesus will cover it, goes against the teachings of the bible, and leads to the spiritual second death.
So how can we know that the commandments still stand? We again can only look to God’s testimony in the bible:
~Matthew 5:18……..‘18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ (Jesus)
~ Matthew 19:17 …..‘if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ (Jesus)
~ John 14:15 …..‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ (Jesus)
~ John 15:10 …..‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.’ (Jesus)
~ 1 Corinthians 7:19 …..‘Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.’
~ 1 John 2:3 …..‘And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.’
~ 1 John 5:2-3 …..‘By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.’
~ 2 John 1:6 …..‘And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.’
~ Revelation 14:12 …..‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’
~ Revelation 22:14 …..‘Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.’
We can see even in Revelation when it speaks of the saved- they are those that “Keep” and “Do” God’s commandments and carry the faith of Jesus. These commandments are kept and done because they are written into our hearts, and through the Holy Spirit, we can actually know God. Please realize, God’s commandments have been manipulated as far back as 300AD by the Roman Empire. To find the true commandments of God, you must read Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5. You can also get a glimpse on the ‘God’s Rules’ page of this site, yet these are made in laymen’s terms. It is best to read the bible. Remember God’s words don’t change:
~ Psalm 89:34– My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
There is great news for us today! If we seek out Jesus Christ with all of our hearts, believe in Him, and truly repent, He will forgive our sins, and will also write God’s laws into our hearts. Pray constantly for rehabilitation of your soul through Jesus, and forgiveness. Also pray for the salvation of all souls through Jesus. You can became a part of this New Covenant of God with Israel, God’s chosen people. We encourage you- don’t take our word for it on anything, our words mean nothing, God’s word means everything- prayerfully search God’s scriptures daily, and God will show you the way through Jesus Christ.
~2 Timothy 2:15– Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.