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 LSB “And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go forth from your land, And from your kin And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”4 So Abram went forth as Yahweh had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.5 So Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go forth to the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.6 And Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.7 Then Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, “To your seed I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to Yahweh 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 LSB “Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines.2 And Yahweh appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you.3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your seed I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.4 And I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and I will give your seed all these lands; and by your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;5 because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
Genesis 28:12-15 LSB “Then he had a dream, and behold, a ladder stood on the earth with its top touching heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.13 And behold, Yahweh stood above it and said, “I am Yahweh, 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 And your seed will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.15 Behold, I am with you and will keep 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 have promised you.”
Genesis 35:10-12 LSB “And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.”Thus He called his name Israel.11 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and an assembly of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from your loins.12 And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your seed after you.”
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. Joshua 1:1-5 LSB “Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ attendant, saying,2 “Moses My servant is dead; so now arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, 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 LSB “For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will return them to this land; and I will build them up and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not uproot them.”
Psalm 105:8-11 LSB “He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded for a thousand generations,9 Which He cut with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac.10 Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant,11 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan As the portion of your inheritance,”
Isaiah 60:21 LSB “Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may show forth My beautiful glory.”
Ezekiel 34:13 LSB “I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will shepherd them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land.”
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 31:30-33 LSB “Behold, days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,32 not like the covenant which I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, but I was a husband to them,” declares Yahweh.33 “But this is the covenant which I will cut with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Yahweh: “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Ezekiel 36:24-28 LSB “And I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your idols.26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to do My judgments.28 And you will inhabit the land that I gave to your fathers; so 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 LSB “And if the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.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 with them of the rich root of the olive tree,18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast against them, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”20 Quite right! They were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be haughty, but fear,21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also 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 off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”
The church hasn’t replaced Israel; we have been grafted into Israel. In Ephesians, 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.
Read Jeremiah 31:30-39 for complete prophecy