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THE NEW COVENANT
LESSON VII., FEBRUARY 14, JER. 31:27-37
Golden Text.—”I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”—Verse 34
The opening verses of this lesson (verses 27,28) point to the return of God’s favor to Israel according to the flesh, and have no reference to spiritual Israel, as is clearly evident. Verse 10 confirms the assurance, saying, “Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and tell it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd his flock.” Verse 27 mentions Israel and Judah both, which might at first appear to teach that God has a different blessing for them and that the distinction which had its start after the death of Solomon is to be perpetuated. But no: we see no distinction in the blessings enumerated. Subsequent verses ignore all distinctions, thus showing that the object in mentioning both is to prevent any from getting the idea that only the ten tribes would be blessed in the future, and not the two tribes for a time known distinctively as Judah. The distinction really ended with the restoration from Babylon (Hosea 1:11); and our Lord and the Apostles used the name Israel as a general name.
It is undeniable by either Jew or Gentile that ever since Messiah’s rejection, five days before his crucifixion, when he said to them, “Your house is left desolate,” Israel has been under divine displeasure, tempest-tossed all over the world. Surely God has watched over them, as foretold, “to pluck up and to break down and to throw down and to destroy and to afflict” them; and the faithful performance of the evil part of the promise is an assurance of the ultimate fulfilment of the promised blessings. Jer. 16:13-18 shows the same rejection and punishment of fleshly Israel, promises the same regathering and blessing, and indicates the time when it will commence. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. VII.
But while verses 27 and 28, and verses 36 and 37, refer to fleshly Israel alone, we are glad that others as well as Israel shall have a share in the blessings of the New Covenant related in verses 24 to 34. The divine method of hiding truths until the due time for revealing them is peculiar to the Bible. As with the doctrines of Election and Free Grace, some affirm the one and deny the other, and the majority stumble into partial error on one side or the other, while in reality both are taught and both are true, so it is with the majority in studying prophecies of which Israel is the theme. Some will contend that it is fleshly Israel, while others as vehemently claim everything for spiritual Israel—the Gospel Church. The fact is that both are represented in prophecy, and it
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is only necessary to rightly divide the word of truth to see them both and their respective portions.
Israel as a nation had certain inalienable promises yet to be inherited as a nation (Rom. 11:26-32), but it was also a typical people. As we have already shown, they as a people and their age and their ceremonies, sacrifices, etc., typified the Gospel Church of the present age. (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., pages 201-248.) Moreover, they serve again in other respects as a type of those people of all nations who, during the Millennium, will accept the opportunities then offered, and come into covenant relations with God. In this latter sense they are before us in this prophecy of the blessings of the New Covenant. They represent not merely the faithful ones of the natural seed of Abraham, but all who, under those favorable conditions of the times of restitution, will believe God and seek to serve him, as did Abraham.
As proving that Israel typified God’s general blessing for the world, notice their three divisions, and what each division represented. (1) Priests, called out from the tribe of Levi and specially consecrated. These, we know, typified Christ our Chief Priest and his faithful, consecrated “little flock,” the Royal Priesthood. (2) The Levites, who represented the general household of faith who serve the tabernacle and carry along the work financially and otherwise, yet never see the holy things, “the deep things,” in any clear and definite manner. (Num. 4:5-15.) (3) The people of Israel, for whom the priesthood made sacrifices and offerings for sins, effecting their atonement and the establishment of the Covenant between them
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and God. These were typical, as well as the Priests and Levites. As the typical sacrifices were made for the people of Israel who desired harmony with God, they typified the better sacrifices of Christ made for the sins of the whole world, who might come unto God by him.
It is when Israel is thus seen to be the type of the repentant, reconciled world that we begin to get a conception of the length and breadth, the height and depth of God’s great plan as it embraces “whosoever will” of all the families of the earth. It is when we get this comprehensive view that we understand the Apostle’s frequent expression—to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. The worthy, faithful Israelites after the flesh, especially those tried prophets and patriarchs of past dispensations, will take first rank in the blessings of the repentant world under the Millennial reign of Christ. But every promise and blessing to them under the New Covenant, will be also in as full measure to the numberless class whom they typify. No wonder, then, the Apostle reasons on this question that the promises of God to Israel imply life from the dead and general blessing. His words are, “If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?”—Rom. 11:15,30-33.
Realizing, then, that the blood of Christ sealed the New Covenant, not alone for Israel, but, as well, for all the world whom Israel typified, we see that whatever shall be declared true of Israel under that New Covenant will be true as well of all who, after the selection of the royal priesthood, shall become Israelites indeed, by the circumcision of the heart, when the full knowledge of the truth shall, in due time, reach the Jew first and afterward all men.
Verses 29,30. “In those days”—days future at the time of the prophecy, and days still future, which shall be indicated by the return of divine favor to Israel—”In those days, they shall say no more, ‘The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ For every one [who then dies] shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” The “teeth on edge” represent the heredity of sickness and death by the human family, and the “sour grape” represents Adam’s original sin, repeated and emphasized in his children. We as a race die for Adam’s sin, the effects of which we inherit, as also saith the Apostle. (Rom. 5:12.) As a part of the New Covenant sealed by the blood of Christ, this present state of things which has continued for over six thousand years is to give place to a new order; and none shall any longer die, as now, for Adam’s sin; but whoever dies will die for his own wilful sin—the second death. It will be the second death because the first death sentence covered all. By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world, and death as the result of sin; and thus death passed upon all.
The death of our Lord, “the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all,” was the full payment to justice of the penalty which came upon Adam, and through him by heredity upon all his race; so that he who paid our penalty thus ratified or made possible the New Covenant under which Israel first and then all the world shall be blessed, and whosoever will may be recovered to everlasting life. Adamic death or the first death, or, as people generally miscall it, natural death, will entirely cease as soon as the Great Priest, Prophet and King (head and body complete) shall take the control of earth’s affairs and introduce to Israel, and to the world through Israel, the New Covenant. None, after that, shall die, unless, being proved unworthy of life, they come under condemnation to the second death, for personal, wilful disobedience against fullest knowledge and opportunity.—Acts 3:22,23.
Verses 31 and 32 clearly point out that Israel must not expect these favors as a part of their Law Covenant made with them at Mt. Sinai, when they were on their way from Egypt to Canaan, which covenant they failed entirely to keep, and from which, consequently, they must expect no blessing. They must learn that this favor comes as a result of another—a new covenant; and in learning that, they will learn about him whom they pierced, whose death ratified or made effective this New Covenant. Thus they shall look upon him whom they pierced, and, thank God, they shall mourn as they come to see the actual facts.—Zech. 12:10.
Verses 33 and 34 particularize some of the blessings and advantages of the Millennial age under the New Covenant, contrasting them with Israel’s Law Covenant experiences. The Law Covenant written on tables of stone was easily forgotten by the typical people, and God was continually reminding them of their unfaithfulness, and chastising them by sending them into captivity among the nations, by sending blights, drouths, etc., and by sending his prophets to reprove their idolatries (Jer. 7:25); but the Israel who will enter into the New Covenant with God, in Christ, shall not be so. It shall be introduced by a greater prophet and mediator than Moses. The Christ shall be Jehovah’s agent in carrying out all of its blessed provisions. Its law, Love, will
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be gradually written in the hearts of men during that Millennial age; and so completely will outward sin be kept under control, and so fully will temptations to forsake God be excluded, and so general will be the diffusion of the true knowledge of God (Heb. 2:14; Isa. 11:9), that it will no longer be necessary, as in the past and present, to be always preaching, “know the Lord;” for they shall all know him from the least of them to the greatest of them. And under this New Covenant, God (through Christ, the mediator of that New Covenant, who sealed it by the sacrifice of himself as our ransom price) will not only instruct all fully, and write his law in their hearts, but he will forgive their iniquities and remember no more their sins, i.e., of such as in that favored time of knowledge shall accept of the privileges offered and enter into the New Covenant conditions, obeying the law of love from the heart as it is written there by the finger of God—by the Great Prophet—the Christ.
It will require the entire Millennial age to re-write in the heart of man the law of God—the law of love. We say re-write, for the law was written in man’s heart, in his very constitution, when God created him in his own likeness. The law on tables of stone was given to Israel after two thousand years of falling had almost effaced the original moral-likeness. “When they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”—Rom. 1:21,22,28.
But God foreknew that the Law Covenant, made at Sinai, and the typical sacrifices for sin which were a part of it, could never take away sin nor make (Israel) the comers thereunto perfect; and he designed it only as a lesson to Israel and the world to point out the real remedy for sin and to foreshadow the better New Covenant and its superior arrangements for the relief of sinners at the hands of the Mediator like unto, but far superior to Moses.
God gave a figure of his original law written in the heart of man and the renewed law as it will be re-written under the New Covenant. When Moses first went into the Mount he received two tables of the law, perfect, from the hand of God—representing the perfect man in the likeness of God, as he came from God’s hand. But those tables of the law were dashed in pieces when Moses reached the camp, representing how the fall into sin has almost destroyed the law of God from the hearts of men, effacing the likeness of the Creator. God’s method of replacing the broken tablets of the law was an illustration of how he purposes to restore his likeness and re-write his law in the hearts of all who desire to be in harmony with him under the New Covenant. He told Moses to hew out, polish and prepare two tables of stone, and promised to re-write the law thereon. So Christ, whom Moses typified, is to prepare mankind (“whosoever will”) for the writing of the law of God. Christ does this, first of all by giving the ransom for all, secondly by bringing all who desire it back into harmony with God and into a full knowledge of the truth, which, as God’s pen, will re-engrave the law of Love and godliness in all obedient hearts.
— February 1, 1892 —