THE CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
INITIATED A NEW COVENANT
The crucifixion and resurrection were the beginning of a new covenant long ago promised to us. In His Word, the Lord has given us a promise of a new covenant. He has desired that we "obtain the promise". The Lord wants us to have faith in His promises. Therefore, He made an oath to us in His Word to confirm to us His intention to fulfill His promises.
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers... but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel... After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and will be their God, and they shall be My people. ...I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
When the nation of Israel had sinned so badly that God was about to start a terrible judgment against them, He gave them a promise of a new covenant. We are now in the age of the new covenant, and can enjoy its blessings. Jesus spoke of this new covenant:
Likewise, also the cup, after supper saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you."
God's new covenant is definitely grace, and was provided for us by our Lord on the cross. He gave His body and blood on calvary for us, and now His death can atone for our sinfulness. The old covenant caused the people to strive, work, and do sacrifices for atonement. The new covenant brings an inward change, and provides a divine nature within its recipients.
II Peter 1:1-4
"... whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust..."
Paul warns of the tendency of many people in the new covenant to return to the old covenant. There is still that inclination in our day. Many seek to justify themselves by good works. This makes the new covenant of no effect for them.
"Christ is come of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."
Jesus' new covenant is much better than the old covenant. In the old covenant, the sinners could run for the cities of refuge. We can run to Jesus. The cities of refuge are mentioned in Hebrews 6:18, as referring to the fact that Jesus is better than these "cities of refuge." These cities were places where a person charged with serious crime could flee to find refuge and safety until a judgment could be made. If the person were apprehended before reaching the city of refuge, he would be slain.
There were six cities of refuge, three on each side of the Jordan. The elders there could investigate the case. If the person were found guilty, he could live safely in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest, then he could return home.
We, in Christianity, are often attacked, abused, and falsely accused. We need a refuge, and Jesus is that Refuge. The cities of refuge of the Old Testament were a temporary, perishable refuge that has since been eliminated.
Jesus is the permanent, eternal refuge. His message to us, is to reveal His way to find such refuge in Him. Jesus is eternal, and will never die as the High Priest did.
Jesus is the "Anchor" that can hold us from drifting, from being blown into dangerous shoals by the stormy winds of the day. He holds firm, and gives us security and safety. When a storm comes, the ship needed a bay or harbor in which to hide. If no such safe place can be found, an anchor was the only hope. The anchor was an early and popular symbol of Christianity. At least 66 pictures of anchors are found in the catacombs.
THE HOPE OF THE NEW COVENANT
Because of the fact of Jesus being a refuge for us, an anchor for us... we have hope in the promise and oath of the Word. The Word offers us a covenant. This covenant is vital, necessary, and mandatory for Christians.
In the old covenant, Israel lost hope, and wanted to return to Egypt. If we lose hope in this covenant, we will be drawn back to the sins of the past. We must patiently hope during these long days until the rapture, just as the nation of Israel awaited the promised land as they crossed the wilderness. We do not want to lose hope and to die in a wilderness of despair, as did sinful Israel. If we want to inherit the promise, we need to maintain hope.
Hebrews 6:12 NIV
"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
THE FORERUNNER OF THE NEW COVENANT
Jesus was the "forerunner" of the covenant. He entered into the Holy of Holies of God's presence. We, through the covenant can also enter into this Holy Presence.
Jesus took on a human nature in order to regain man's lost dominion and relationship with God. Man had lost his priesthood relationship with God. Sin had robbed mankind of that relationship. Adam and Eve originally had dominion over creation. Man had been crowned "with ...glory and honor..." (Hebrews 2:7) Man became a slave to sin. Jesus, our forerunner, came to regain that crown, that relationship. Now that we have seen that Jesus has gotten the crown and glory, and we have been promised by this forerunner that we can be His joint-heirs...
A forerunner is one who precedes, to prepare the way for those who come after. Our Forerunner, Jesus, prepared the way for us to receive the blessed new covenant.
BENEFITS OF THE NEW COVENANT
19. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
20. By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.
21. And having an 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.
23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised
24. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works;
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Let us realize what these verses are promising us:
1. Entrance into the Holy of Holies of God's presence
In this new covenant, we are no longer shut out by the veil that separated the priesthood of the Old Testament period from the Holy of Holies. The veil, now rent... the new covenant now given... the priesthood of this covenant can enter into God's presence whenever we desire. This is a blessing beyond measure...
2. Having a High Priest in Jesus
Many will not realize until heaven, when they take remedial training courses up there for failing to have studied down here, that the Lord Jesus is a High Priest Who can mediate our requests for us. Some may want "St. Christopher", or some one else to do such... But we have Jesus Himself, Who died for us, Who made access for us to heaven... to actually be our intercessory High Priest in this new covenant. This is a wondrous covenant blessing.
3. Purity from sin and a guilty conscience
The old covenant could only have lambs, turtledoves, goats, and bulls to give a covering of blood for sin. When we are in the new covenant, we are totally washed clean in the blood of Jesus Christ Himself. His blood atones, and completely washes away our sins.
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
The "shadow" only reflects the nearness of the actual substance. The law and its sacrifices only reflected the image of the true embodiment of our faith, Jesus Christ. This new covenant provides through Jesus real forgiveness, real change, and freedom from the bondage of sin.
4. A profession of faith
"But ye shall be called the priests of the Lord, men shall call you the ministers of God..."
We can make a profession of our status, for it is not a mystery any longer, it is a realized, and actual, fact. We can take a stand on our faith, and know with assurance that He Who promised will continue to perform it, and to bring it to completion. Never be ashamed of this new covenant. It is magnificent.
5. A fellowship with others of the faith
We are not alone in this covenant. Many others also share this wonderful, incredible, and fantastic blessing. We are placed with them in the covenant to work together.
I Peter 2:5-9
"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
6. Exhortation from and to others
This ministry in the new covenant makes us necessary to each other. We cannot feel isolated, but must bear each others burdens, intercede for one another, exhort, and encourage each other.
"Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another..."
7. A day approaching of greater fulfillment of the covenant
The new covenant is wondrous now, but soon it shall become even more awesome. We walk in newness of life now, but soon we shall stand with Him in glory. We shall then begin to rule and reign with our Lord.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power, but that they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him 1000 years."