It’s Monday and that means it is time for another look into the book of Hebrews. We have called this study HeBrews: A Better Blend because we are glimpsing so many ways that Jesus is better than the Old Covenant provisions. Today let’s take a look at who the intended recipients of the New Covenant were. I’m in an adventurous mood, so let’s take a walk down an oft-debated and sometimes confusing path.
Consider Hebrews 8:8-10:
8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “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– 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
In this passage we find the writer of Hebrews borrowing from the prophet Jeremiah’s words that explain the New Covenant.
Now read Luke 22: 20 and let’s see what Jesus has to say about the New Covenant:
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Do you recall who was sitting around the Passover table with Jesus that night in Jerusalem? It was the disciples….the JEWISH disciples.
The New Covenant was made by God with the nation of Israel. Over the course of history from the time of Solomon until the time of Jesus, the Jewish people had repeatedly rejected God and been disobedient to His commands. Even still, God promised them a do-over in Jeremiah 31. That do-over would be part of the New Covenant. In fact, they would have a couple of do-over opportunities. It is important to understand that the New Covenant contains near-far prophecy. Near-far prophecy means that a portion of the prophecy would be fulfilled in the near or immediate future, while another portion would be fulfilled in the distant future. Jeremiah 31 contains near-far prophecy in that part of it would be fulfilled at Jesus’ first advent, while part is yet to be fulfilled at His second advent.
When Jesus told the disciples in Luke 22: 20 that his blood would be poured out for them, He was telling them the very essence of the New Covenant. He would be the ultimate Passover lamb, sacrificed for the sin of anyone who would receive Him. No other sacrifice would be necessary after He died and rose again. The New Covenant instituted by Christ would be a covenant that would be written, not on tablets of stone, but in the hearts of the Jewish people. The key to the New Covenant for the Jewish people would be whether they accepted Jesus as that ultimate Passover lamb.
All four gospels tell us that the Jewish people not only rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they called for his death. And so, once again, the descendants of Abraham, rejected God. Surely, this would be the final straw for God. He had taken them back time and again after cycles of rebellion and repentance. Surely, their rejection and killing of His Son, Jesus, would be what caused Him to reject them as His chosen people. No one would expect God to offer them another opportunity. It would only be fair for God to say, “That’s it. I’ve had it with you people. You’ve had your last chance. I’m done with you.”
Ah, but as usual, God had a plan. In Acts 13: 46-47 Paul and Barnabas told the audience that the Jews had rejected the Jesus and the New Covenant. Because the Jews rejected the New Covenant, this offered Gentiles the opportunity to get in on eternal life.
This is where a hearty “Yippeee!” would be appropriate. Probably most of us would be considered Gentiles, although it would thrill me no end to think that a redeemed Jew is studying the Word with us. You and I have the opportunity to know Christ and be partakers of the New Covenant because the Jewish people rejected Jesus. We will look more at this next week.
MEDITATION MOMENT: Have you thanked God today for giving you the opportunity of eternal life through Christ? If not, do it…and while you are at it, pray for the Jewish people to recognize Jesus as Messiah and turn to Him.