The Bible is a book about covenants from beginning to end, and God is a covenant, God. So Paul wrote to the Galatians that through Jesus, the blessing of Abraham comes to the Gentiles, and to the Romans, he noted that Abraham is the father of us all.
To understand the new covenant fully, we must begin with the covenant God made with Abraham. We will begin by defining what a covenant is,
“[an]oath-bound promise whereby one party solemnly pledges to bless or serve another party in some specified way. Sometimes the keeping of the promise depends upon the meeting of certain conditions by the party to whom the promise was made. On other occasions the promise is made unilaterally and unconditionally. The covenant concept is a central, unifying theme of Scripture, establishing and defining God’s relationship to man in all ages.
In the OT, the Hebrew word translated “covenant” is berit. The term probably derives from the term bara, “to bind.” The noun berit originally denoted a binding relationship between two parties in which each pledged to perform some service for the other. The NT, following the Septuagint, uniformly uses the Greek word diatheke for the covenant idea, avoiding the similar term suntheke, which would wrongly portray a covenant as a mutual contract or alliance rather than an oath-bound promise. This does not mean that a covenant may not, in some cases, take on characteristics common to a mutual agreement or contract, but the essence of the covenant concept is clearly that of a binding pledge.”Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
A covenant made by God cannot be undone, annulled, or replaced. All the covenants in Scripture connect. The Abrahamic covenant leads to Sinai, which expounds the blessings and curses outlined for His People. The covenant of David establishes the everlasting rule of the Kingdom, and the New Covenant is the culmination of all previous covenants. Jesus is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. The covenants have a continuous and everlasting connection, so let’s begin with Abraham and work our way to the New Covenant.
You can read the entirety of God’s dealings with Abraham in Genesis twelve through twenty-two; we will only be hitting the highlights in this post for time’s sake. I will also be using the Tree of Life Version throughout as it adds a fresh yet original Hebrew perspective to the Scriptures.
Genesis 12:1-7 “Then Adonai said to Abram, “Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. 2 My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing. 3 My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. 4 So Abram went, just as Adonai had spoken to him. Also Lot went with him. (Now Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.) 5 Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions that they had acquired, and the people that they acquired in Haran, and they left to go to the land of Canaan, and they entered the land of Canaan. 6 Abram passed through the land as far as the place of Shechem, as far as Moreh’s big tree. (The Canaanites were in the land then.) 7 Then Adonai appeared to Abram, and said, “I will give this land to your seed.” So there he built an altar to Adonai, who had appeared to him.”
Abraham was promised that he would become a great nation and that through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed and that he would be a blessing. Those that bless him will be blessed, and those that curse him will be cursed. God also promised land would be given to him. The covenant was cut in chapter fifteen, but instead of Abraham walking through the animals, only the Lord did, signifying God would fulfill the covenant regardless of Abraham’s doing. Even in the Old Testament, the foundation was grace! The covenant sign was given in chapter seventeen. In chapter twenty-six, the covenant was confirmed with Abraham’s son Issac and later to Issac’s son Jacob whose name was changed to Israel, who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel.
Genesis 26:1-5 “Now there was a famine in the land—aside from the previous famine that happened in Abraham’s days. So Isaac went to King Abimelech of the Philistines, to Gerar. 2 Then Adonai appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Dwell in the land about which I tell you. 3 Live as an outsider in this land and I will be with you and bless you—for to you and to your seed I give all these lands—and I will confirm my pledge that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your seed like the stars of the sky and I will give your seed all these lands. And in your seed all the nations of the earth will continually be blessed, 5 because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My mitzvot, My decrees, and My instructions.”
Genesis 28:12-15 “He [Jacob] dreamed: All of a sudden, there was a stairway set up on the earth and its top reaching to the heavens—and behold, angels of God going up and down on it! 13 Surprisingly, Adonai was standing on top of it and He said, “I am Adonai, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your seed. 14 Your seed will be as the dust of the land, and you will burst forth to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed—and in your seed. 15 Behold, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land, for I will not forsake you until I have done what I promised you.”
Genesis 35:10-12 “God said to him: “Your name was Jacob. No longer will your name be Jacob, for your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel. 11 God also said to him: “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assembly of nations will come from you. From your loins will come forth kings. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac— I give it to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land.”
We can see the consistency of the covenant promise from Abraham, to Issac, to Jacob, and the deliverance from Egypt through the wilderness years, all the way to the leadership of Joshua when the promise appears again. “Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of Adonai that Adonai spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide saying: 2 “My servant Moses is dead. So now, arise, you and all these people, cross over this Jordan to the land that I am giving to them—to Bnei-Yisrael. 3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I am giving to you, as I spoke to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river, the Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 5 No one will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you.”
I know this is a lot of Scripture, but the only thing that establishes the eternality of the covenant is the continuity of Scripture. God has a covenant people, Israel, and the covenant includes but is not limited to the land of Israel God promised Israel. The most contentious subject on the world stage today is the fact that Israel belongs to the Jews, and in the church, it’s a contentious discussion of if the church replaces Israel.
THE LAND OF ISRAEL
Along with the Scriptures already cited, allow me to give a few more from the Prophets and a Psalm.
Jeremiah 24:6 “I will set My eyes on them as good. I will bring them back to this land, and I will build them up and not pull them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.”
Psalm 105:8-11 “He remembers His covenant forever— the word He commanded for a thousand generations— 9 which He made with Abraham, and swore to Isaac, 10 and confirmed to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 11 saying, “To you I give the land of Canaan, the portion of your inheritance.”
Isaiah 60:21 “Then your people will all be righteous. They will possess the land forever— the branch of His planting, the work of My hands— that I may be glorified.”
Ezekiel 34:13 “I will bring them out from the peoples. I will gather them from the countries. I will bring them back to their own land. I will shepherd them upon the mountains of Israel, by the streams and in all the habitable places of the land.”1
Replacement theologians would have Christians believe that the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948, holds no significance. The truth is, that great historic day says God is a covenant-keeping God. They would have you believe the church is the “new” Israel; nothing can be further from the truth. Jesus didn’t negate the Old Testament and start a new religion; He came to fulfill the law and save us.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE NEW COVENANT
Jeremiah 31:30-32 “Behold, days are coming”
—it is a declaration of Adonai— “when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 31 not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand
to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they broke My covenant,
though I was a husband to them.” it is a declaration of Adonai. 32 “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”
—it is a declaration of Adonai— “I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people.”2
Ezekiel 36:24-28” ‘For I will take you from the nations, gather you out of all the countries and bring you back to your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Ruach within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My laws, so you will keep My rulings and do them. 28 Then you will live in the land that I gave to your fathers. You will be My people and I will be your God.”
The New Covenant was prophesied in the Old, and it isn’t as new as we think; it is thoroughly connected to the people of God and the ways of God we read about in Genesis through Malachi.
Paul even takes time in his excellent teaching on salvation and sanctification to the Romans to talk about Israel’s past (Romans 9), Israel’s present (Romans 10), and Israel’s future (Romans 11).
I will close with Paul’s words in Romans 11:16-24 “If the firstfruit is holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off and you—being a wild olive—were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True enough. They were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear— 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. 22 Notice then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell; but God’s kindness toward you, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off! 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of that which by nature is a wild olive tree, and grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”
The church hasn’t replaced Israel; we have been grafted into Israel. In Ephesians3, Paul said we were separated from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant, but we have been brought near through Jesus. The Covenant began with Abraham and was extended to the nation of Israel; we have been grafted in through Jesus, and in Revelation, Jesus comes back to get all the land promised, save all of Israel and establish His Kingdom.
- For more see “God’s Promises of the Land to Israel” Scripture booklet by Billye Brim
- Read Jeremiah 31:30-39 for complete prophecy
- Ephesians 2:11-22