The New Covenant

Jehovah defines His Glory in Exodus 33 and 34 as His goodness, Covenant, grace, mercy, Love, forgiveness and justice.  Because these are qualities and not objects, what Moses sees when God shows him His Glory would have to be the history of Genesis and of the first part of Exodus.  In Genesis in particular, Covenant is displayed strongly in terms of grace, mercy, and Love (see previous posts).  It is a voluntary relationship of extreme trust and commitment, no matter what the cost, even if that cost is God’s life.

In allowing Abraham to be recipient of Covenant for perhaps fourteen years even without his counterpart commitment; in requiring the helpless and hopeless (the eight-day-old baby and the slave) to also be included; in making the mark of His “eternal Covenant” irremovable so that anyone so included would know that Jehovah could never break Covenant to him, the substance of this relationship does not come from the human commitment but from the heart and determination of God.

This Glory is a characteristic of God (and therefore of His Covenant) that is carried into the New Testament.  St John points out in his Gospel (John 3:16) and his letters (I, 2:1-2) that God’s grace and mercy extends now to even all humanity.  Entrance into His Covenant is still by command, the motivation is not based upon human qualifications – as if we could ever qualify against God’s perfection.  It is not as if Jehovah is reluctant or apprehensive about including into this bond humans whom He knows will stumble and fail.

There seems to be an attitude with some people that Jehovah sort of came to Himself during the Old Testament time and, as He looked at the Old Covenant, said basically to Himself, “Well, that didn’t work!” in regard to having such a personal relationship being applied to the whole People of God.  What is missed is that the Old Testament is not really the story of Israel.

Indeed they are a major figure throughout the account, but the real story is about Jehovah.  This first “half” of the Bible is about God and His Glory as He has defined it.  It is the story of His dogged determination to fulfill His Covenant.  It is the story of His Love in conflict with His justice and His refusal to annihilate even when that would seem the logical solution to His pain.  It is the story of His drive to Covenant’s climax in His personal presence on this earth, in His finally cutting and shedding His Blood, and in completing His commitment on a cross.

If Jehovah were to say that the Old Covenant was abolished because it failed, then He failed.  This was a design that He established from before the beginning of the world.  If it failed then He did not know something, or did not realize something, or somehow the plan was flawed – and He would not be God.  It did not fail, because simply He was demonstrating the very same foundations that the New Covenant would then be built on.

Jehovah never made a mistake in the ‘Old’ Covenant which now has to be corrected by a ‘New’ Covenant.  It is not that we are demanded to be better believers than Abraham, David, or Daniel; nor that we are to walk closer to God than Enoch or Elijah; nor that we are to be more committed than Moses or King Josiah; rather, because of His birth in Bethlehem, He enters Covenant with a whole new depth, with an even greater personal involvement.  [from my book, Covenant: The Blood is The Life]

The New and better Covenant was not because somehow the human participants would be better or more faithful people – the difference would be that Jehovah’s participation would be totally different.  Rather than the God Who must stop short at the very threshold of humanity, where with Abraham He could not cut and bleed in His commitment, He now plunges into full humanity.  In Jesus’ Circumcision, indeed the Human bleeds – but now also finally Jehovah bleeds in this Covenant bond going back to Abraham, and He pours out His Blood in the New Covenant with us.  He can do now what He could not do before – Him, not us – that is the essential difference between the Covenants.

The Old Covenant was the necessary step for us to understand what the New Covenant would be about, as we now see Jehovah entering in a far deeper way into this bond that He had designed, in the way that He had anticipated already when He first hung the stars in the sky.

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