How I Learned I Was Wrong
What do you do when you’re teaching one thing and the Bible teaches another?
“Now, the New Covenant, that’s ours. That’s for us as Christians.” I can still hear myself speaking those words to my Bible study ladies several years ago as I finished teaching a class on the Old Testament Covenants God had made with the nation of Israel.
As I read Jeremiah 31:31–34 (the promise of the New Covenant), I could almost hear my voice waver when I came to verse 31. The words burned on the page in front of me: “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.”
Even as I continued reading and claiming the New Covenant for the church, I knew something was extremely wrong. The Bible wasn’t saying what I was teaching. I hurriedly finished without further comment. But later that evening, my thoughts returned to Jeremiah, and questions filled my mind: Who in the world is the New Covenant for? Israel? If so, what is the covenant God made with the church? Do we even have a covenant?
Later I told my ladies the New Covenant was for Israel; and when they balked, I read Jeremiah 31:31 to them again, this time with conviction. Thankfully, no one asked me to explain because I couldn’t have done so. I told them what the Bible said, but I was mystified by it.
Like most churchgoers, I had heard for years that the New Covenant is Christian. It’s for the church. But there it was in black and white on the pages of Scripture, telling me I was wrong; and I didn’t know how to handle it.
Spiritual, Not Physical
I avoided further discussion on the subject because I had no answers. No answers, that is, until I took a Friends of Israel online class and learned some surprising information.
The New Covenant is the foundation for the personal relationship we as believers have with Jesus Christ, but it also is a guarantee of future regeneration and blessing for Israel. All spiritual blessings are mine, and many of my blessings are the same as those promised to Israel under the Jeremiah 31 description of the New Covenant.
However, as a Gentile believer, I am not promised physical land, physical descendants, or physical blessings. Those blessings are unique to Israel.
Even after I realized the New Covenant was given to Israel, I still didn’t understand the covenant is way less about me than I thought. What is about me is the Mediator (negotiator, intercessor) of that Covenant, who is Jesus the Messiah—the one who redeemed me with His blood. National Israel does not yet have that relationship, which the church enjoys through faith in Christ.
One of the New Covenant’s main points for national Israel is that the Law, formerly written on tablets of stone, will one day be written on Jewish hearts. As believers in Jesus, we are covered by the blood of the New Covenant through our relationship with the Mediator and have been baptized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who does a convicting work in our hearts. So, in a very real sense, the Law is “written” on our hearts.
As believers, we also have the assurance of forgiveness of sin (1 Jn. 1:9). The apostle Paul said Christ replaced the Old Covenant with Himself (Col. 2:16–17). We are “in Christ,” meaning we experience this much-better replacement. Clothed in His righteousness, we can boldly approach God personally, without fear and with unveiled faces—a privilege Israel never had under the Old Covenant (Heb. 12:22–24).
When the New Covenant comes into full effect during the Millennial Kingdom, God will pour out on a then-saved and regenerated Israel an abundance of blessings physically, spiritually, emotionally, and materially (Jer. 31). As the bride of Christ, the church will already be there, watching God bless His beloved Chosen People.
I still am not sure I fully grasp all the implications of the New Covenant for me as a Gentile believer. But this I know: When I sit in my church pew on the first Sunday of the month and prepare my heart to take communion, I not only remember Christ’s death, but I also wander back in time to an ancient people, a people chosen by God, the recipients of the New Covenant in which I have been made a partaker.
My heart almost bursts with anticipation as I think of the day when the New Covenant will be fully implemented and enjoyed—not only by the church, but also by the Jewish people, to whom it was given.
So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isa. 51:11).
Now I can’t wait to teach my Bible study ladies all about the New Covenant!