THE NEW COVENANT MADE THE 1ST OBSOLETE
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Even at the date of the writing of Hebrews (prior to AD 70) the old covenant, though superseded and no longer used by God, was still functioning – but vanishing away.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? This is where we ended the last article. So we proceed with a little understanding of covenant.
Hebrews 9:15–17 (NKJV)
15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.
Blood is required to ratify a covenant. It was so among men. It was so between God and Moses for the sake of the nation of Israel. It was also so between Jesus and Father God for the sake of all mankind.
The Old Covenant began at Mount Sinai as Moses oversaw the shedding of the blood of bulls and goats; the blood of the covenant.
Vss 18, 19
18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.
19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
Notice, however, that before the blood of bulls and goats was shed to ratify the covenant of law mediated by Moses, every precept of the Law had to first be spoken to the people (Ex 24:6-8). Once this was done, Moses would then declare the following words over the people.
Vs 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”
Vs 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
Without the shedding of blood no sin is covered and no punishment is removed. But even with the sacrifice of innocent animals, the sin of the people was not cleaned from their records. Sin was only covered, which is what atonement means. Therefore, every year more animals were sacrificed.
Hebrews 10:1–4 (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. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
The New Covenant began at the cross as Jesus shed His blood of the Covenant.
It will help to know several things which happen when covenants are cut (entered into during ancient times). 1. A meal is shared. 2. Bread and wine were shared. 3. The terms of the covenant were agreed upon and declared. 4. Blood of innocent animals was shed. See Exodus 15.
Hebrews 9:11–16 (NKJV)
11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
The New Covenant required blood, but not of animals, which could never take away sin. Christ came to satisfy God’s passion to once and for all remove the power of sin to separate His children from Him. Christ came as the perfect sacrifice lamb to perfectly carry the sin of the people to the cross. His blood washed away the sin of every person who would believe in the sufficiency of His sacrifice to do so, once and for all.
Hebrews 9:26–28 (NKJV)
26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. . . .
Hebrews 10:10, 19 (NKJV)
10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
It’s important now that we remember Heb 9:19, 20. As Moses spoke every precept of the law before shedding the blood of the 1st covenant, Jesus also spoke every precept, that is, every commandment of the New Covenant before shedding His blood.
On the night He was betrayed after the meal was finished, He spoke to His disciples in covenant language and declared His blood to be the blood of the New Covenant.
Matthew 26:28 (NKJV) For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The bread and the cup signified His body and His blood. After this portion of the covenant meal was finished and after Judas left to betray Him, He spoke the only new commandment of this New Covenant.
John 13:34 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another (also John 15:12).
In John’s epistles he referred to this commandment several times with important promises.
1 John 2:8 (NKJV) Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
1 John 3:23, 24 (NKJV)
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
Notice in 1 John 3:23 there is only one requirement to enter into the New Covenant. That we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.
John 6:29 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
No longer think of the New Covenant beginning with the birth of Jesus, but after His three and a half year ministry. Jesus ratified the covenant with His Father as the sacrifice lamb shedding His blood on the cross. The sin of all mankind was washed away and every person who confesses Christ enjoys the eternal benefit of being forgiven for all transgressions, which are never to be remembered against him or her on judgment day.
Hebrews 10:17, 18 (NKJV)
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.
When Did the Old Covenant of the Law Cease to Function?
Those who reject the blood of the Lamb to forgive their sin remain subject to whatever law they subscribe to so as to prove that they have obeyed well enough to enter the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, no one ever lived without sin. All are doomed without Christ.
Hebrews 10:26–30 (NKJV)
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”
Those who go back to the elements of the Law of Moses go back to a system God no longer uses, not even to cover sins year to year. For they count the blood of Christ as an unworthy thing and dishonor the God they seek to gain favor with through their works.
Romans 10:1–4 (NKJV)
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Even though God no longer used the old covenant when dealing with Israel nor any other people, the yearly sacrifice of lambs continued every year on the Day of Atonement. Finally, God took vengeance on that system which never satisfied His desire to give us liberty to come boldly to His throne and receive His love and His life. When God’s wrath was poured out, the city of Jerusalem was flattened, every stone of the temple was thrown down, every element of temple worship, all the ritual vessels, the priestly garments, all the records to determine whose turn was next, and even the priests, high priests and everything by which that obsolete system could continue were burned up in a great conflagration which was seen at great distance from Jerusalem.
Matthew 23:29-39 (NKJV)
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
Matthew 24:1, 2 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
God’s wrath was poured out on a system that failed to produce righteousness and on every one who clung to it, like a sinking ship, while rejecting the Messiah they slew along with a growing multitude of martyrs.
God waited in long-suffering to extend mercy to whomever would hear the Law and the Prophets testify to the Messiah’s finished work until the end of that generation. Then eyes which saw Him pierced saw Him come on clouds (Revelation 1:7 YLT) as promised and with fire to burn up the elements of the Law. Those who trusted Him heeded His warning to flee to the mountains of Pella when they saw the Roman army surround Jerusalem. As the Romans retreated, every Christian left the city before the army returned and fulfilled the warnings of Christ.
Luke 21:12–22 (NKJV)
12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Take note, if you will, of available conclusive evidence* that the book of Revelation was written and dispersed to the churches before AD 70, when all this came to a conclusion. It gave clear reference to Christ fulfilling the law and the prophets. Its witness by the law and the prophets (Moses and Elijah) reached the streets of Jerusalem and was boldly declared until those voices were silenced. Yet all Christians escaped to Pella while God’s wrath was finished.
Revelation 15:1 Amplified Bible (AMP) Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and wonderful [a warning of terrifying and horrible events]: seven angels who had seven plagues (afflictions, calamities), which are the last, because with them the wrath of God is finished [that is, it is completely expressed and reaches its zenith].
There’s a lot packed in the paragraph above. Unpacking it is not the challenge that living through it was to the saints of the first century. Despite how it may seem to us today, we are in a much better place because of those events.
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? In AD 70 as the city, the temple and all the elements of the Law were destroyed. They should no longer lay claim to the hearts of believers in Christ. But it’s up to us what we allow to have power over our lives; the Law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) or Grace by which we are saved through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8).
John 1:17 (NKJV) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:14 (NKJV) . . . for you are not under law but under grace.
* Welton, Jonathan. The Art of Revelation. BookBaby. Kindle Edition.
For more on The New Covenant? Jonathan Welton. The Whole Bible, the King, the Kingdom and the New Covenant.
Or John Sheasby’s: liberatedliving.com – listen to audio series: The New Covenant.