In reading an article sent in by a friend, we came across an item which helped us to understand the way in which the Old Covenant ended, and the New Covenant was set up. This will not be a “heavy” article, but just a little gentle theology. Perhaps it may help others as much as it helped us. And many thanks to our brother (J.R.J.) who kindly sent in his paper. We expand on the theme as follows.In Romans 7, Paul begins an argument based on the marriage commitment. He says that the wife is bound by law to her husband whilst he is still alive, but in the event of his death, she is released from the law, and is free to marry another. And in this passage Paul used the word “law” to refer to the Covenant that was established with Israel at Mount Sinai. (Romans 7:1-4)
Three times in the O.T. we are told that the Lord was HUSBAND to Israel. Here are the references. Isaiah 54:5 “Your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name.” Jeremiah 3:14 “Return O backsliding children, says the Lord, for I am anHusband unto you.” Ezekiel 16:8 ” I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness; yes, I swore unto you, and entered into a Covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine.” (The ancient rite of the skirt covering a woman to indicate ownership is beautifully exemplified in the story of Ruth.)
Hence Israel was looked upon as the Wife of Jehovah. Sadly she went astray, and by worshipping idols (which was symbolically called adultery) she broke the Covenant, which initially she said she would keep. (“All these things we will do.”) But even so, as Jeremiah prophesied, she was still the Lord’s property by virtue of the Covenant, and He called her back. But by the time of the coming of Messiah Jesus, there was no way forward. The only way in which the Old Covenant could be terminated was by the death of the Covenanter.
And this is exactly what happened. The death of the Messiah Jesus on the cross at Calvary released Israel from the Old Covenant. Henceforth she would be free to “marry another.” This is exactly what Paul said in Romans 7. “Wherefore my brethren, you were made dead to the Law (i.e. the Covenant) by the (dead) body of Christ, that you should be joined to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead!”
Jesus is now the Mediator of a Better Covenant, enacted upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6) Therefore “the first is made old, and is near unto vanishing away,” (that was in Paul’s day. Hebrews 8:13) And Paul declared that he, and the other apostles, had “become adequate ministers of a New Covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit.” (2 Cor.3:6)
Those Jews who, through the centuries since the cross and resurrection, have received Jesus as their sin-bearer, have understood the truth concerning the termination of the Old Covenant. But the nation of Israel as a whole still sits in darkness, clinging to a system that “vanished away” nearly 2000 years ago. Imagining themselves to be God’s chosen people by virtue of the Covenant of Marriage, they fail to recognise themselves as a Widowed Nation, clinging to that which no longer exists.
Some believers still say, “Jesus IS a Jew”, as if we cannot be joined to the Lord except through Israel. But Jesus is no longer a Jew. Paul said, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more.” Why? Because He is raised and seated at the right hand of God as the Lord Almighty, he is once again the Lord in Heaven, and only in this capacity can we know Him. Neither Jew nor Gentile can approach God via the Old Covenant. All transactions have to be directly with the Lord Jesus. “The way into the Holy of Holies has been made open” for all, “whether Jew, Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, male or female, bond or free.”
“All the promises of God in Him (Jesus Christ) are Yea, and in Him are Amen.” (2 Cor.1:20) None of the O.T. promises toIsrael as a Nation have any effect outside of Christ. Only by being “joined to Another” can anyone, whether individual or nation, receive the promised blessings. If in a future day the Nation of Israel turns to God, it can only be on this basis. There cannot be a return to the Old Covenant in any sense whatsoever. It served the purposes of God for 2000 years until Christ, and the New Covenant has served the purposes of God for the last 2000 years.
Although the ten commandments still serve to remind men that they are sinners, as we declared in our last article, the laws of God are no longer attached to the Old Covenant. They stand by themselves as gaunt reminders of the holiness of God, and our total inability to reach up to that standard in the flesh. Hence they throw men onto the mercy of God for salvation through Jesus’ shed blood. The new life He then gives is the blessed inheritance of the New Covenant, by which God’s laws are written in our hearts.
From Arthur & Rosalind Eedle, Lincolnshire, England.