The New Covenant, Israel, and the Church

The New Covenant, Israel, and the Church

 

One of the great misunderstandings in Christendom today is the belief that the New Covenant was given by God exclusively to and for the church. Two of the main Scripture passages upon which this belief is based are Matthew 26:28 where Jesus states, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 where Paul rehearses the Lord’s instructions for the church to observe what has come to be known as “The Lord’s Supper.”

However, we need to understand that the New Covenant as revealed by God in Jeremiah chapter 31 was not given to the church (which is a hidden mystery in the Old Testament), but rather was explicitly given to the nation of Israel.

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— (Jeremiah 31:31)

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

So, the time is coming when the Lord will restore the nation of Israel and fulfill the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then to Moses in the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 29-30), and to David in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:5-16). Furthermore, the apostle Paul stated that the day is coming when “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). We can clearly see movement toward the fulfillment of all of these promises with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948.

The question that remains is, What is the relationship of the church to the New Covenant if it was not given to the church? The answer to this actually lies in the Abrahamic Covenant which forms the foundation for the New Covenant. One of the promises that God made to Abraham was that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3)—and we now understand that this blessing would be redemption through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, everyone, both Jew and Gentile, finds forgiveness of sin through the blood of the New Covenant. However, it must be understood that the additional promises of the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New Covenants apply exclusively to the nation of Israel. The church receives the spiritual benefits through Christ’s sacrifice, but the other promises remain in effect for national Israel.

Ironically, even though the majority of Christendom denies that national Israel has a future in God’s program, every Christian denomination observes the Lord’s table and therefore unwittingly regularly celebrates the New Covenant which guarantees that Israel’s future in God’s program is secure.

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