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A covenant is an agreement between two parties that has been made firm by any established method that binds both parties to it. In early Bible times it was so confirmed by first slaying an animal, cutting it into pieces, then preparing it for a meal to be shared by both, or all of those making the agreement. This method was known as cutting a covenant. An example of this is in Genesis 26:28-30 where Isaac made (Hebrew cut) a covenant with Abimelech. But the New Covenant was established by God Himself through the cutting off of His Only begotten Son the promised Messiah. (Daniel 9:26, Isaiah 53:8, Isaiah 49:8, Matthew 26:28) The tokens of that covenant are shared by all participants in what is known as the Memorial Supper, where the faithful share bread and wine in memory of their Lordís death, thus reminding them that he was cut off for their transgressions.
EXAMPLES OF COVENANTS
There were several covenants made between God and man before the new one was established. The first one mentioned as such was made with Noah, when God promised never again to destroy all flesh by the waters of a flood. (Genesis 6:18 & 9:9-17). God set a rainbow in the cloud to signify this everlasting covenant. He later made a covenant with Abraham promising that both he and his descendants would inherit all the land of Canaan between the River of Egypt and the Euphrates river. (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:8-21). This Abrahamic covenant also involved the blessing of all nations in Abrahamís seed. (Genesis 22:16-18, 26:4-25, 28:10-15) He also made a covenant with King David that his seed would sit upon his throne for ever. (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Psalm 89:3-4).
Abrahamís special descendants (the nation of Israel) became the subjects of the only covenant God ever made with an entire nation. It was made within the framework of the Abrahamic covenant that promised the land of Canaan to Israel for an everlasting possession. But that national covenant was added to the Abrahamic until the promised seed (Christ) should come. (Galatians 3:17-19). God said to Israel, "if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people;" (Exodus 19:5). Unfortunately they did not always obey, but broke Godís law.
They were therefore ironically cut off from their own land and scattered to all nations of the earth. (Jeremiah 44:7-11, Ezekiel 21:2-4). This failure of Godís chosen nation clearly showed the necessity for the introduction of a better covenant. It required one that would foster individual response to the will of God, and embrace the earlier promises made to the fathers of a special descendant, whose dedication to God would ensure its success. This promised seed was Jesus the Christ whose life, death and resurrection was that guarantee.
THE NEW COVENANT is thus firmly established in the shed blood of Jesus our Lord. It confirms and establishes Godís covenants made to Noah, Abraham and David. This new covenant will ensure that the earth will be populated for ever, as promised to Noah and that Abraham and his seed will inherit not only the land of Canaan, but the whole world as an everlasting possession. (Romans 4:13). This seed of Abraham in whom all nations are to be blessed is Christ."He saith not and to seeds as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." (Galatians 3:16). Jesus, who is both Son of God and Son of David, will then be King over all nations, ruling upon the throne of David in Jerusalem. (Luke 1:30-33, Matthew 5:35 Psalm 72:1-8).
BIBLE REASONS FOR THE NEW COVENANT
Hebrews 8:6 says, "He (Jesus our High Priest) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." He (Jesus our High Priest) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." The whole discourse in chapters 8 to 10 reveals the weakness of the Old covenant. This weakness was mainly in Israel who failed to keep it. However, this former covenant also provided for the erection of a tabernacle with perishable materials, a changing priesthood, and a mode of worship that did not have the power to take away sins. These factors in themselves suggest that former covenant was never intended to be permanent, but was to be replaced. The prophecy of Jeremiah indicated this. (Jer 31:31-34 and Hebrews 10:16-17). ĎThis is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.í
THE NEW COVENANT EXPLAINED
It provided for the removal of sins as well as giving an incentive not to continue in sin. The very fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son , in itself invites genuine response. The fact that Jesus laid down his life for us in response to His Fatherís love for us, adds to our commitment for Godly living. The reality that Jesus was made in all things like unto us, and yet did no sin gives us hope and faith to be able to walk in His Godly footsteps. (John 3:16, John 15:13, Hebrews 2:14, and 4:15-16, 1 Peter 2:21-25). All this is part and parcel of the New covenant that Jesus sealed with His own blood.
"Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of it . For this is My blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission of sins." ( Matthew 26:27). Jesus had just passed the loaf to his disciples saying, "take, eat, this is my body." (Verse 26).
He thus instituted that memorial feast that committed the disciples to partake of every first day of the week. They remember his death on behalf of us sinners, so that we could share the inheritance of eternal life on this earth forever with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David and his greater Son, Jesus our Lord.
In dying for us Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 42:6 concerning Godís servant. He said, ĎI, the LORD, have called THEE in righteousness, And will hold THINE hand; I will keep THEE and give THEE for a covenant of the people, For a light of the Gentiles, To open the blind eyes, To bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.í Note clearly that it is the LORD, Israelís God, who gives His servant as a covenant of the people. Jesus is therefore the servant of God and not God Himself.
HOW CAN WE SHARE IN THE NEW COVENANT?
The answer is by sharing symbolically in Christís death and resurrection in a resolve to die to our old way of life, be symbolically buried with him in the waters of baptism and rise again to newness of life. In this way we put on Christ, and then share in the promises of God to Abraham that all nations will be blessed in Abraham and his seed. (Mark 16:15-16, Galatians 3:26-29) We can then share with him in the covenant feast of bread and wine.
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