A New Covenant
The scriptures relating to the New Covenant have offered much hope and encouragement to believers all through the Christian Era. But at the end of this age it has come more into the minds of students of the Bible as prophecies have been fulfilled during the last 100 years.
An examination to the New Covenant cannot be done without contrasting it to the old Law Covenant. The old Law Covenant was made between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. It was soon after leaving the land of Egypt that Moses went up Mount Sinai and God said "if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people….and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." (Exod.19:5‑6) These words were addressed to the children of Israel. Even the writer to the Hebrews, be it Apollos or Paul or another apostle, wrote "he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away". (Heb.8:13) According to Christian scholars this was written in the years immediately prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70.
Jeremiah was the first to write it. Jer.31:31‑34 (RSV) says "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke...But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD". This was written in the days of the last kings of Judah prior to the captivity in Babylon but records seem to confirm this was after the captivity of the so‑called ten tribe kingdom of Israel. One notable feature of this promise was that it would be made with the house of Israel and Judah. Only natural Israel has been labelled in such a way.
The Book of Hebrews and the New Covenant
Hebrews 8:8‑12 virtually repeats the verses above from Jeremiah 31. Again it repeats that God would make it with "the house of Israel and with the house of Judah". The context in Hebrews places it against the context of the tabernacle arrangement. The writer to the Hebrews after talking about the sacrifices in the law arrangement states "This is the covenant that I will make with...Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds." (RSV) This states that it works in the hearts and in the mind.
Made the former old
In New Testament times the Law Covenant passed away. Jesus stated he came to earth to fulfil the law (Matt.5:17‑18) This he did, so Paul was able to say some years after our Lord Jesus' death that he blotted "out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Col.2:14). The New English Bible translates it, "For he has forgiven us all our sins; he has cancelled the bond which pledged us to the decrees of the law. It stood against us, but he has set it aside, nailing it to the cross." Or to put it simply the old law was nailed to the cross having served its purpose. A few years after his ascension, the work widened out by inspiration of God and by revelations to Peter and Paul regarding the Gentiles. No longer were the promises of God solely to the natural seed of Abraham and some proselytes. Yet some Judaizing teachers wanted them to keep the law. Therefore Paul at times pleaded with them to disregard such teaching saying that the law was merely a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ but now we are justified by our faith and if we are Christ's we are Abraham's seed and heirs according to faith and not to the keeping of the law. (Gal.3:22‑29) Then in AD 70 Jerusalem and The Temple were destroyed by the Romans and there was no place to offer any of the sacrifices daily, monthly, annually or otherwise. Thus showing it served no purpose in the eyes of the Heavenly Father. So by the time John penned Revelation the old nation of Israel had been scattered and removed from the Promised Land. This did not mean that many did not attempt to keep the law but they did so in communities outside of what became called by many Palestine.
In Britain many Jews still observe aspects of the law either in their daily lives in matters of food and cleanliness and other traditions such as a Passover meal. According to 'The Guardian' in the 2011 National Census just 16% of Jews in the U.K. are ultra‑orthodox. So the old law came to an end only seen in those of natural Israel, who did not recognise that the Anointed One had come, but kept the aspects they did chose to keep. The law did pass away and only an appearance of it remains with orthodox Jewry.
The matter of the New Covenant cannot be written about without mention to the verses on the Everlasting Covenant. One such scripture is in Isaiah 55:3,5 "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David" and "Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel". A second one is Isa.61:8‑9 "For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed." These intentions were laid out before the time of Jeremiah to another prophet, Isaiah more than 100 years before Jeremiah. It saw a time of a then‑future covenant that would be wrought in Israel in which the Gentiles would also be blessed. It would be a covenant that would not end. Like the New Covenant that appears to have no end.
Going forward many years and returning to the book of Jeremiah there is a verse regarding a perpetual covenant. The word translated 'perpetual' is Strong's Hebrew word 5769 owlam which has the meaning of always, ancient time, any more, continuance, eternal, everlasting, long time. This is the same word translated as 'everlasting' in Isaiah and therefore must be the same covenant. Another feature of these verses is the mention that the covenant would be made with both houses of Israel. It says "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward (toward it), saying, 'Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. (Jer.50:4,5).
Jesus, the Last Supper and the blood of the new covenant. (Matt.26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor.11:25‑26)
Our Lord Jesus made mention once of the new covenant. That was the important record of the last supper when he likened the wine to his blood, the blood of the new covenant. He states it was shed for those disciples in the room for remission of sins. This is a phrase that can apply today to those who partake in the bread and the wine in the manner our Lord Jesus instructed us, whether to Jew or Gentile.
The Mediator – Jesus
The word mediator is mesites which is Strong's Greek word 3316 which carries the idea of a 'go‑between, a reconciler, an intercessor'. This is why the writer to the Hebrews is able to label Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant as he also fulfilled to old law covenant. (Heb.9:4‑15; 12:24) In a similar way Moses was the mediator of the Law Covenant as it implies in Hebrews 8:5‑7 while noting that the new covenant was based on better sacrifices than the old.
Deacons of New Covenant (2 Cor.3:3,5‑7)
How should Christians today label their position in relation to the New Covenant? In the A.V. Paul says "God hath made us able ministers of the New Testament (Covenant)". In the U.K. government a minister is a high ranking member of the cabinet tasked with running the country being responsible for some major section of British life whether it be agriculture, health or trade or something similar. But the Diaglott describes them as 'servants' from the Greek word diaskonos which is often translated as deacons as in 1 Tim 3:8 where it describes those who assist the Overseers. It is the same word used to describe Phoebe's work for the congregation near Corinth. It can be concluded this is a subordinate role at present if the verse is to be applied to the present rather than to the future. The Diaglott used the phrase that "our qualification is from God; who qualified us to be Servants (deacons) of a New Covenant".
Therefore the prime function of the New Covenant is with natural Israel rather than spiritual Israel and hence the main function is still in the future. The state of Israel has been recognised for 70 years and the population grows in number decade by decade. This can happen as Jesus fulfilled the law at his first advent and that old covenant is now at an end and following his death is the mediator of the new covenant having shed his blood to remit sins. It was shed for all but especially for his disciples at his first advent and all those disciples who have followed the same way as those early ones did. Now the followers are qualified to be deacons of a new covenant until that number is complete and the next wonderful phase of the new covenant, an everlasting and perpetual covenant can be seen in Israel forever that will be good for all nations.