THE NEW AGREEMENT WITH NATIONAL ISRAEL
The Creator God brought the Israelites out of Egypt because he had a job for them to do and a purpose for their existence as a nation. These people were called to be a nation of priests who would represent God and his plan for the salvation of humanity to the world.
After Christ's return to establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth, the descendants of Israel will be brought to the land of their inheritance. There, they will be formed into a world power to fulfill their national destiny.
During this future age, the nation of Israel will again assume its responsibility of being an example of God's way of life to the world. The city of Jerusalem will again become the focal point for the worship of God. It is from Jerusalem that Jesus Christ will administer his Father's government and religion to the nations of the world while offering the opportunity for salvation to them. See Deut.30:1-6; Mic.4:1-7; Joel 3:16-21; Zech.8:1-3.
With the return of Christ, much of the literal, prophetic, and symbolic meaning of the sacrificial system and the commanded observances and holy convocations will have been fulfilled. However, the prophecies clearly show that under the new agreement with national Israel, there will be a sacrificial system of worship along with commanded observances and festivals, which was also done under the first agreement with national Israel. See our study papers concerning the worship system after the return of Christ.
Many people wonder if the prophecies concerning the future of national Israel are simply analogies, or if they have some other meaning that has not yet been discovered.
The following biblical facts will help clarify God's new agreement with national Israel:
Although the Bible gives few details regarding the new system of worship that will be performed at the new temple in Jerusalem, it is not silent when it comes to documenting the fact that the laws, precepts, and principles that God has ordained for the purpose of worshiping him and regulating human behavior will still be in effect during Christ's rule.
Because very few details are given about God's worship system after the return of Christ, it seems that the prophecies concerning it are primarily given to show the continuity of God's plan for the salvation of humanity after the return of Jesus Christ.
It is logical to assume that, at the appropriate time, God will reveal all of the necessary details concerning this future worship system, just as he gave all of the necessary details and instructions to Moses concerning his worship system for ancient Israel.
It is important to note that, although the bulk of this study concerns the cancellation of the first agreement with national Israel and the establishment of a new agreement with them, much of what is said also applies to the righteous Patriarchs and those called to salvation during the gospel age.
GOD REMEMBERS HIS PROMISES
Although national Israel disobeyed God and did not fulfill the purpose for which they had been freed from the bondage and slavery of Egypt, he has no intention of casting them aside and using another people. Keep in mind that centuries before Israel became a nation, God made unconditional promises to the Patriarchs. Moreover, some of these promises were also made to their descendants, who include the Israelites.
"That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed my voice" (Gen.22:17-18 Para.).
The promises to Abraham assured him multitudes of descendants and that, through these descendants and Christ, all the inhabitants of the world would be blessed.
Even though Israel failed to live up to their national agreement with God, they still have an opportunity for national greatness and salvation because of God's unconditional promises to the Patriarchs. See 2.Chron.6:14; Psa.89:34; Zech.2:10-12.
"For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own treasure out of all the people on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love on you or choose you because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the Lord loved you, and because he kept the oath which he swore to your fathers, the Lord has caused you to go out with a strong hand, and redeemed you from the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Because of this, know that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to those who love him, and to those who keep his commands, to a thousand generations" (Deut.7:6-9 Para.).
"O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keeps covenant, and shows mercy to your servants, that walk before you with all their hearts" (2.Chron.6:14 Para.).
"He will ever be mindful of his covenant" (Psa.111:5 KJV).
Because of his prior commitments to the Patriarchs, God will continue to work with the nation of Israel until his purpose for humanity is finished.
A NEW AGREEMENT PROMISED
"Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new agreement with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the agreement that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt; which my agreement they broke, although I was a husband to them, says the Lord" (Jer.31:31-32 Para.).
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]: For this is my covenant to them [Israel], when I shall take away their sins." (Rom.11:26-27 KJV).
There is no doubt that God promised to make a new agreement with national Israel. It is also clear from the scriptures that the first agreement with national Israel has been canceled, and that Jesus Christ has initiated a new agreement with them. Although a united national Israel containing all of the twelve tribes has been promised, it does not exist today. So, at what time in the future will this new agreement be formalized with them?
After Christ Returns
The prophet Ezekiel speaks of a future time when Israel will be gathered out of the nations and the wicked will be purged from among them:
"And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezk.20:38 KJV).
"As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, . . ." (Ezk.34:12-13 KJV).
It is logical to assume that a formal presentation of the new agreement with national Israel cannot be made until they are again a nation. Therefore, it seems that this formal presentation will occur at some point shortly after the return of Jesus Christ as conquering King and the gathering of national Israel.
WHY THE FIRST AGREEMENT FAILED
"For if that first agreement had been faultless, then there would have been no need to make a second one. For finding fault with them [i.e., the people], he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new agreement with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not according to the first agreement that I made with their ancestors in the day when I led them by the hand out of Egypt; because they did not continue in my agreement, and I did not regard them, said the Lord" (Heb.8:7-9 Para.).
The first agreement with national Israel did not work. If it had worked, there would have been no need for another agreement to replace it.
The major fault was not with the agreement; it was with the people who were under the agreement. The terms and conditions of the agreement could be performedGod could perform his part and a number of individuals did perform their part. However, it was extremely difficult for individuals to perform their part of the agreement, because the people did not have the desire to worship God correctly. Therefore, God canceled the first agreement and made a provision in the second one to change what was wrong with itthe people.
THE FIRST AGREEMENT CANCELED
Hebrews 10:5-10 Paraphrased
"Wherefore when he comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you do not want, but a body have you prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure" (vs.5-6).
God the Father was not interested in the killing of animals just for the sake of killing. He had no pleasure in the death of these animals and he would not have required that they be sacrificed if it were not for the necessity to atone for the sins of humanity and to teach the lesson that the penalty for the violation of God's law is death (Rom.6:23).
"Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you do not want, neither had pleasure in them; which are offered by the law" (vs.7-8).
It would have been much better if the people with whom God wanted to have a relationship had been able to live before him in obedience to his basic laws of behavior; however, this was not the case. Adam and Eve were not able to live in obedience to God nor were their descendants. Therefore, the sacrificial system was necessary in order to put people back into right-standing with God so that they could have a harmonious relationship with him.
"Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. By who's will [i.e., the Father's will] we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (vs.9-10 quoted Psalm 40:6-8).
The writer to the Hebrews points out three very important things in verses nine and ten:
1. Christ is now the perfect sacrifice and through him, the first agreement with national Israel has been canceled and a far better one has been made.
2. The sacrifice of Christ purges away the sin of those whom the Father calls during the gospel age of salvation and sets them apart for a holy purpose.
3. The sacrifice of Christ eliminates the necessity to perform animal sacrifices to atone for spiritual sins.
A NEW AND BETTER AGREEMENT
While speaking of God's first agreement with national Israel, the writer to the Hebrews says that the ministry of Christ is more excellent than that of the priesthood who offered sacrifices that were only prophetic of what was to come from heaven. Additionally, he says that Christ (the Creator God) has instituted a better agreement than the first one. See Heb.8:5.
"But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better agreement, which was established upon better promises" (Heb.8:6 KJV).
The new agreement is better than the old one because it is based on better promises (i.e., better terms, conditions, and benefits). Moreover, these promises are far better than those given in the first agreement with national Israel.
FIVE MAJOR CHANGES
Although there are many differences between the first and second agreements with national Israel, the following five major changes make the second agreement much better than the first one:
1. A Perfect Sacrifice
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Heb.10:1-4 KJV).
The sacrifices had to be given year after year yet they could never save the people from their sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. The reason for this is that an inferior being cannot pay the penalty for a superior being's violation of the law: a human life is superior to that of an animal life. Humans were created inferior to the angels, but with the potential to become superior to them; neither animals nor angels have this potential.
The inadequacy of the sacrifices is another reason the first agreement is inferior to the new one. Animal sacrifice could only provide a temporary stay of execution for the violator of God's law. Under the sacrificial system, before the advent of the Messiah, the penalty for a violation of the law could only be temporarily set aside by the blood of a sacrificial animal. Therefore, there was a need for a perfect sacrifice and a new agreement.
2. A Perfect High Priest
Hebrews 7:11-16 KJV
"If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar" (vs.11-13).
"For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedec there arises another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life" (vs.14-16).
Under the first agreement with national Israel, the High Priest was to act as a bridge between God and his people. Because the high priest himself was guilty of sin and under the death penalty, he was also in need of a perfect sacrifice and a perfect high priest to intervene to God on his behalf.
Because of the imperfection of the sacrifices and the High Priest of Israel, no human could pass beyond the Creator God and into the presence of God the Father. But why not? The reason is because the Father dwells in heaven, and any human who is allowed to come into his presence must be totally sinless, holy, and righteous. No human could qualify or had the authority to go before him prior to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, because all people were under the death penalty for the violation of the Father's law before the advent of Christ.
Hebrews 7:11-16 shows a change in the conditions of the agreement with Israel. This change allows the elect of God during the gospel age of salvation to go directly before God the Father without going to a physical priest and having him speak to God on their behalf, which was done under the first agreement with ancient Israel.
"Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, Here I amit is written about me in the scrollI have come to do your will, O God . . ..He sets aside the first to establish the second . . .. Day by day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" (Heb.10:5-12 NIV).
Jesus Christ is now the High Priest who sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Furthermore, because of his sacrifice and the new agreement, there is a new, life-giving way to gain access to the very presence of God the Father.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest over the house of God" (Heb.10:19-21 KJV).
"But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better agreement, which was established upon better promises" (Heb.8:6 KJV).
Through his sacrifice, Jesus Christ is now the immortal high priest and the mediator of the new and better agreement, which is built upon new and better promises from God the Father to his people.
3. The Forgiveness of Sin
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins" (Rom.11:26-27 KJV).
Until the Messiah came and offered himself as a perfect sacrifice, all of Israel and the rest of humanity were lost and doomed to death, because there was no adequate sacrifice to pay for the sins of humanity. Therefore, if the Messiah had not come, or if he had failed in his mission to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice, all of humanity would be doomed because they would have no way to be saved from eternal death.
"And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb.10:11-12 KJV).
"If the plan that leads to doom was glorious, much more glorious is the plan that makes men right with God" (2.Cor.3:9 LBP).
The first agreement failed because of the inherent weakness of the human spirit, which resists the law and will of God. The new agreement with national Israel offers Jesus Christ as its atoning power and the transformation of the human spirit through the power of the Father's holy spirit.
The reason that the first agreement with the nation of Israel could lead to death as well as life was because of a problem with the people, not the agreement. Therefore, God corrected this problem with a new and better agreement.
Although the law revealed what sin was and the sacrificial system showed how to have sin temporarily set aside, the flesh was weak and the people found it difficult to keep the law. Because they knew what sin was but were not able to keep the law, they had no hope of being saved from eternal death, because the penalty for breaking the law is death (Rom.6:23).
Righteousness and the Law
"And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us" (Deut.6:25 Para.).
"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of breaking the whole law" (Jms.2:10 Para.).
When speaking of the benefits of the new agreement over the old, the apostle James said that, if a person who is seeking to be justified before God by keeping the law breaks any one of these laws, that person is guilty of breaking all of the law.
Humans can forgive, but they have great difficulty forgetting an offense against them. However, the Father's forgiveness is totalhe will not only totally forgive our sin but also totally forget our sin:
"He has not dealt with us according to our sins; or punished us according to our lawlessness. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, this is how far he has removed our transgressions from us" (Psa.103:10-12 KJV).
"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawlessness I will not remember" (Heb.8:12 Para.).
A person who is forgiven under the terms and conditions of the new agreement will never have to worry about being punished for past violations of God's law, because their sin is gone as if it had never existed.
The Blood of Christ
The violation of God's law requires that the violator be put to death (Ezk.18:4,20; Rom.6:23). Under all of the old agreements, the Creator God allowed the life of an animal to be substituted for the life of the violator, in order to temporarily set people's sins aside.
In order to form a new and better agreement (Heb.8:1-10), this same Creator God came to earth as a human and sacrificed his own life as a substitute for the lives of those who violated his Father's law. His sacrifice enabled the sins of humanity to be forgiven (Isa.43:11; 45:21). See our study paper concerning Christ's last Passover and his sacrifice for humanity.
It is through Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice and intercessory authority with the Father that everyone who agrees to be a part of the new agreement can have their sins forgiven and forgotten by the Father. See Psa.103:8-13; Isa.1:18-19 and our study paper concerning salvation.
The writer to the Hebrews confirms that the sacrifice of Christ is the ultimate and final sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin:
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb.9:14-15 KJV).
The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ removes the sins of those under the new agreement. And because of Christ's perfect sacrifice, the Father forgets those sins forever, so that his children can stand before him as righteous individuals. Once Christ made the perfect sacrifice, there was no longer a need for any other sacrifice to be made for the atonement of spiritual sins.
4. The Law Placed Within
"But this shall be the agreement that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says 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" (Jer.31:33 Para.).
"For this is the covenant [agreement] that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws 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" (Heb.8:10 KJV).
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says 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. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (Heb.10:16-18 KJV).
Because people who lived before the second agreement was made did not have the law of God as a part of their mental and spiritual make-up, they found it very difficult to obey and worship God properly. For this reason, God decided that he would form a new agreement and include a provision to change what was wrong with people by placing his laws in their minds and spirits.
God has only one set of laws that show people how to behave toward each other and how they should worship him. Therefore, the law being spoken of in Jeremiah chapter 31 and Hebrews chapters 8 and 10 is the same law that he gave to the nation of Israel as a part of the first agreement with them. This is the law that is written in the hearts and minds of people under the new agreement. In other words, God will write these laws in their very being and thereby make the law a part of the thinking process of individuals he calls to salvation.
5. The Holy Spirit
After the return of the Messiah, anyone who agrees to the terms and conditions of the new agreement will have no excuse for not being able to fulfill their part of this agreement. Moreover, they will have no excuses for not being able to successfully obtain salvation, because under the new agreement, each person has the tools to guarantee success if they use the tools properly.
The most important tool that God gives people to help them in their effort to please him and obtain salvation is the holy spirit. Understanding the importance of this tool, King David asked God not to take his holy spirit from him. David knew that this was the tool that God gave him to help him obtain salvation and secure eternal and immortal life:
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit" (Psa.51:10-12 KJV).
Prior to and during the first agreement with national Israel, various attributes and functions of the holy spirit were given to a few people; however, there were limitations placed on the kinds of attributes, functions, qualities, and power, that were given. The scriptures also show that many of these individuals who had this spirit power within them will be in the first resurrection.
The holy spirit that David had is the same power that is given to those who are called during the gospel age of salvation and to those who will live under the new agreement with national Israel in order to help them secure eternal life. See Lk.11:9-13; Rom.8:26-27; Eph.4:21-32; 6:17-18, and our study paper about the spirit of God.
A careful study of the scriptures reveals that all of the terms and conditions that were in God's first agreement with national Israel are a part of the new agreement. The only exceptions are those items specifically changed or superseded by Christ's sacrifice (among these are the Passover observance and the temple worship system). Many other things such as keeping the commandments, the annual observances and festivals, and health laws are a part of the terms of the new agreement, and the people of God today and those in the future are bound by the new agreement to keep these terms.
Under the new agreement with national Israel, there is a better method by which a person can secure salvation and eternal life. This new method will succeed where the old one failed because it has a perfect sacrifice, a perfect High Priest, the forgiveness of sin, the law placed within our minds and spirits, and the indwelling of the holy spirit.
Salvation During Christ's Reign
The way to salvation is a growth process that requires an ongoing effort in order to receive eternal and immortal life:
"Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure" (Phil.2:12-13 KJV). See also Gal.6:3-10.
The overall plan of God for the salvation of humanity has not changed from the foundation of the world. Part of this plan is that humans must come into conformity with his laws of behavior. A fundamental teaching in the Bible is that one must put forth a serious, heartfelt effort to change from the disobedience of God's law to the obedience of his law before being granted salvation. This type of change takes time, effort, and life experience.
During the reign of Christ, and under the new agreement with national Israel and humanity as a whole, people will live in a world of peace and prosperity. During this future age, God the Father will offer the opportunity of salvation to all people. However, it will be the responsibility of each individual to make an ongoing effort to live a righteous life and develop spiritual maturity in order to secure eternal life.
An Everlasting Agreement
The new agreement with national Israel, the elect of God, and the rest of humanity concerning how to obtain salvation will never fade away; it will continue to exist after the return of Jesus Christ until God's plan for the salvation of humanity is finished:
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant [agreement], Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Heb.13:20-21 KJV). See Matt.26:27-28; Lk.22:20.
After the return of Jesus Christ, all people will have an opportunity to receive the spirit of God, which will give them the spiritual strength to successfully obey God (Jer.50:19-20 Para.).
Today, before the return of Christ, the New Covenant brings with it an opportunity to be among the first of humanity to be made a son of God the Father just as Jesus Christ is. The New Covenant offers an eternal inheritance of the earth and the universe, plus a spiritual inheritance so fantastic that it cannot even be comprehended by the human mind. All of this and more is offered by God the Father to those he offers salvation under the new agreement in this age of human existence.
After the Israelites left Egypt and were camped at the foot of Mount Sinai, they made an agreement with God to do whatever he told them. In return for this obedience God promised to give them tremendous blessings.
Moses wrote this agreement in a book, read the agreement to the people, and again they agreed to do whatever God required of them. Then, Moses sprinkled the book and the people with animal blood; thereby, he ratified and sealed the agreement.
The blood that was sprinkled upon the people and the agreement was symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ, which would forgive their sins and ratify and seal the new agreement between God the Father, national Israel, and the rest of humanity. See Acts 20:28; Eph.1:5-7; Col.1:12-14, 20; Heb.10:19-22.
The Blood of Christ
"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt.26:27-28 KJV). See Also Eph.1:7.
"This cup is the new agreement in my blood, that is being poured out for you" (Lk.22:20).
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me" (1.Cor.11:25 KJV).
The first agreement that God made at Mount Sinai with national Israel was canceled on the Passover in 30 A.D. with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The events surrounding this Passover and the death and resurrection of humanity's Redeemer also ratified a new agreement with Israel and the rest of humanity. In this same year on the Feast of Pentecost, many of the various terms, conditions, and promises of the new agreement began to go into effect for all of those called to salvation during the gospel age:
"By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear" (Heb.8:13 NIV).
By V. O. Jones and B.L. Cocherell, file b4w15