Understanding the New Covenant given by Jesus
To understand the New Covenant given by Jesus, we need some background.
Promises by God, Covenants with God, and laws of God
A Promise was given looking forward with covenants being part of that promise.
A Covenant was reconfirmed to following generations while still being part of the original covenant.
A Law was given thru Moses to the Nation of Israel to be obeyed as part of the covenant with Abraham.
God is one and unlike anything we know. What's normal to Him is beyond our ability to conceive or understand. He exists eternally and we have but one very short life time, therefore we see in relation to time. He sees one covenant over many life times, but to Him it is just one covenant with many facets.
A promise is something that He has given concerning the future. It has two meanings.
1. It is His written Word. It was written to know for a certainty.
2. It is His Word given as a bond and can be relied on as such. When we have a close friend, we accept “their word” as a bond and trust it.
A covenant was a bond or agreement between two parties that has promises and consequences.
1. Promises for keeping the covenant.
2. Consequences for breaking the covenant.
A Law was given by God to the Nation of Israel to be obeyed as a nation and was part of the covenant with Abraham, given by God to Moses.
Let’s take a look at the term “Covenant”
The word covenant comes from the Hebrew word “barah” in the sense of cutting, or cutting covenant, a compact made by passing between the pieces of flesh that were cut in two, signifying a covenant, contract or league between those who pass between the pieces. The pieces represent the witnesses. This is the original meaning and we see that covenants were established with or without “the cutting” but they were still a covenant with all the legality involved.
This could be a covenant between men, the nation of Israel and other nations, or men and God. All of the resources of either party was available to the other party if needed. What is interesting, is, if a person violated the covenant, all the resources of the one who has been violated become available to destroy the one who broke the covenant. That is why making a covenant with God was a very serious business not to be done lightly. We, unfortunately, have nothing like this in our culture that represents a covenant other than marriage, and that has been so weakened it can not be a symbol any longer.
The term covenant is used about 275 times in the Old Testament so we will look at a few major promises and covenants in the Old Testament and that will give us greater insight to what Jesus was referring to in the New Testament.
Let’s start with the Old Testament written in Hebrew to the Jews
God sanctifies the Sabbath, the seventh day. On the seventh day God rested and He promises to sanctified the seventh day.
Genesis 2:1-3 (Historical Highway) Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day Eloheim the Creator ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then Eloheim the Creator blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which Eloheim the Creator had created and made.