THE KINGDOM AND THE NEW COVENANT
Matthew 26:26–29 (NKJV)
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
Last year (2016) the focus of articles, as God directed, was on the Kingdom of God. I knew then that it would take us to this point in which the focus would expand to the relation between the Kingdom and the New Covenant. The Kingdom of God could never be all that God intends without the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ.
As we explore the two together, we must start with an understanding of when the Kingdom of God began on earth and when the New Covenant was cut in the blood of Christ. Let’s consider three questions.
The Kingdom Comes To Earth
1. Knowing that God’s Kingdom has always existed in Heaven, when does the word of God indicate it began or will begin on the earth? Early last year we delved into this question in an article titled “Kingdom Come!” and acknowledged there are many views as to how Scripture might answer this. It’s also possible that there is no answer at all. Without being dogmatic, we put forward the view indicated in the following Scriptures.
Matthew 2:1, 2 (NKJV)
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Matthew 3:1, 2 (NKJV)
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Matthew 11:12 (NKJV) And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
Colossians 1:13 (NKJV) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
In simple language, the wise men came seeking to pay homage to one who was born King of the Jews. Jesus told His disciples to preach that the kingdom was at hand, meaning, available to them. The kingdom had already been suffering violence as John the Baptist came onto the scene preaching it as ‘at hand.’ Finally, Paul tells the Colossians that he and they had been freed from darkness and conveyed (translated) into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love.
Daniel, who was forced to live and train among Nebuchadnezzar’s sorcerers and magicians actually saved their lives and became more influential, in favor than they, before each king of Babylon and the Kings of the Medo-Persian Kingdom. Daniel, no doubt, influenced these men and became their mentor in the proper ways of God to accurately discern the times, as truly “Wise Men.”
They likely knew Daniel’s 490 year prophetic timeline which gave them a strong clue when the King of the Jews would be born, while they also more properly learned to read the stars. They likely all knew of Daniel’s life saving interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which indicated the Kingdom would begin during the time of ten kings. This is the ten-toes of the divided Roman Empire of the first Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar. Augustus, who ruled from 27 BC to AD 14, divided the empire to reduce the strain on himself. Here are the key verses of Daniels’ interpretation of the king’s dream of a large statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and iron and clay mixed.
Daniel 2:34, 35 (NKJV)
34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Daniel 2:44 (NKJV) And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
It seems quite likely then, that the wise men of Matthew 2 were correct. Jesus was born King of the Jews. Also see Isaiah 9:6, 7 and Luke 1:30-33.
Last year we discussed many principles of the kingdom. You cannot see the Kingdom of God with the natural eye. It is not of this world, as Jesus told Pontius Pilot. It’s a spiritual kingdom which expands one heart at a time, whenever someone invites Jesus into their heart. As such, it has been ever expanding and now covers over 1/3 of the world population. This progress should be expected. Jesus predicted it in the Kingdom parable of the leaven hidden in three measures of meal.
Matthew 13:33 (NKJV) Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
The New Covenant Begins
2. When did the New Covenant begin? This question is much easier to answer. Jesus announced its eminent initiation in His blood during His last meal with His disciples the night He was betrayed.
Matthew 26:28 (NKJV) For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
As the Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, the New Covenant is an everlasting covenant in which God’s people will know the Lord the way He has always wanted us to know Him.
Ezekiel 37:26 (NKJV) Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
As we continue on you will see the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of peace within the hearts of believers, but also the New Covenant; for the New Covenant puts the Kingdom of God within us and removes the veil from our hearts so we can see Jesus and be transformed (2 Corinthians 3:15-18).
Jeremiah 31:31–34 (NKJV)
31 “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—32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
The previous covenant was incorporated in the Law of Moses engraved on stone. Paul called it a ‘ministration of death’, for it could not produce life but empowered sin. (2 Corinthians 3:7, 8; Galatians 3:21, 22; 1 Corinthians 15:56) The New Covenant with new commandments (1 John 3:23; John 13:34) would be written and engraved on new hearts of flesh. It would be empowered by love and the Holy Spirit resident in new spirits (new creations of 2 Corinthians 5:18).
John 15:12 (NKJV) This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Ezekiel 36:25–28 (NKJV)
25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of 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 keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
What is Their Function?
3. What is the function of each?
The function of the Kingdom of God is to establish the rule of Christ as King within our hearts by persuasion, so we follow Him willingly. We discussed how the Kingdom expands last year in “As the Kingdom Manifests,” one heart at a time. The plan that was put on hold in the Garden of Eden is underway again.
Matthew 13:31, 32 (NKJV)
31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Now God’s original plan progresses with willing participation of the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. The stone cold hearts of religion are replaced with warm hearts of flesh which allow God to write His desires and passions upon them, even daily. The love of God finds free expression in hearts that have discovered that God is good and however He leads them, He goes with them.
The function of the New Covenant is to provide free access to the throne of God where we discover the Father’s love and acceptance without merit because of simple faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8, 9). It also provides freedom from the fear of punishment for not keeping the Law (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17-22).
Hebrews 8:1–13 (NKJV)
1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 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. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8 and the earlier passage from Ezekiel 36, specifically verses 26 and 27, reveal the New Covenant enabling the Kingdom of God to be fully manifest in the hearts of believers in Jesus, the King of kings. It reveals believers receiving new hearts, new spirits and the power of love by the Holy Spirit to know they are secure in Christ and able to appear without fear before their heavenly Father. Under the Law that could never happen.
Hebrews 10:1–3 (NKJV)
1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
The Law of the old covenant was only a shadow of what God was promising under the New Covenant. In the yearly sacrifices the seekers could never come to God’s throne because their sins were not removed, they were only covered. Even the High Priest could only enter behind the veil of God’s presence to bring the blood of a spotless lamb to cover the nation’s sins. He could not remain once his duty was performed or he would die (Hebrews 9:7-10). When Jesus gave His life everything changed.
Hebrews 10:16–18 (NKJV)
16 “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 I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
The New Covenant is the substance of what the old was only the shadow. Why go back to a shadow? In the New, our hearts and minds may come into sync with His heart and mind, unless we go back to the old. Regardless of that, our sins are no longer remembered. As the song says, “You’re not guilty anymore.” Jesus was the perfect sacrifice to wash away all sin for all people who believe. There will never ever be another offering for sin. Under the Law of Moses they could never enter behind the veil to approach the God Who loves them. Now they come to His throne with full assurance of faith because of the blood of the New Covenant.
Hebrews 10:19–22 (NKJV)
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
The King and His Covenant
4. Let’s put them together.
In the New Covenant in His blood, the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy within our hearts.
Romans 14:17 (NKJV) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
In the old covenant righteousness came by your behavior including what you ate and drank and what you didn’t eat and drink. In the New Covenant the righteousness of King Jesus is given to you simply because you believe He is the Messiah.
Luke 17:20, 21 (NKJV)
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
In the New Covenant we are given the righteousness of Jesus without the Law because we trust (faith) that in love He gave Jesus, His Son, to ransom our lives from the penalty of the Law. (Romans 5:1; Philippians 3:9)
We are given peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
We are given joy full of His glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
Peace and joy are manifestations of the love of God for us, empowering us to trust Him in all circumstances and discover love for Him in our hearts.
In the New Covenant we have God inside, power (God’s grace) inside and our motivation comes into sync with His motivation: love!
Hebrews 13:20, 21 (NKJV)
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Q: If all this is true, why don’t we see these things manifest is the lives of believers? Good question. We will get to that.
The New CovEnant began at the cross as Jesus shed His blood of the covenant. When did the old covenant of the Law cease to function?
Hebrews 8:13 (NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Even at the date of the writing of Hebrews (prior to AD 70) the old covenant, though superseded and no longer used by God, was still functioning – but vanishing away.
What does that mean?