This morning I was thinking about the New Covenant. Because I’ve been involved for years in the Messianic movement, I wondering what the Christian understanding is of the New Covenant and its terms. So I went on a search.
A covenant is a legally binding contract between two parties. Examples of covenants are husband and wife, business partners, landlord and tenant, God and man. For the most part, I found most Christian sites accept this as truth. I also found a lot I could agree with, but there sure is a lot of misunderstanding out there.
God describes the covenant much like a marriage “You shall be my people and I will be your God” He then lays out the terms of the covenant – how each party is to behave, and what each party’s responsibilities are toward one another. Pretty cut and dry, don’t you think?
Well, I found this on Grace Communion International:
When Jesus announced a new covenant in his own blood, he was announcing something dramatically new! Never before had God made a covenant using human blood. The previous covenants had used animal blood. God did not allow human sacrifices. Jesus was not announcing a renewal of the old covenant, or a slight revision. Instead, it was a completely new covenant, made in a way forbidden by the old covenant! Simply in making the new covenant, Jesus was announcing the fact that the old covenant no longer applied.
Oh my…really?! According to them, God started participating in pagan HUMAN sacrifice to institute a new way of doing things! Guess that means we are now free to sacrifice our kids on the altar of Molech – or Convenience – or whatever god you choose.
Sorry…I lost it. It just amazes me how we humans (myself included) come up with all sorts of crazy nonsense to fit our own way of thinking. But seriously, when you throw out the totality of the Torah, then anything goes.
- Eating pork is okay
- Worshipping on whatever day you want is okay
- Dressing provocatively is okay
- Having sex without marriage is okay
- Aborting babies in the mother’s womb is okay
- Having sex with the same sex is okay
- Marrying someone of the same sex is okay
Oh, and having sex with kids, animals, and anyone or anything you want is also okay.
Listen, God told Adam and Eve that their sin would cause death. Death, losing the gift of eternal life given in the Garden, is the result of sin. In the Torah, God provided a substitute for that death penalty – the blood of an animal (because the life is in the blood). Whenever His people sinned and repented, He forgave them. However, they still owed to the Creator for disobedience. The animal paid that debt. (Now before you go thinking this is a mean Creator, remember He is faithful and just. Justice requires payment.)
After they were cleansed and forgiven, God’s people eventually sinned again, because as my rabbi says, “Sin gets on stuff.” And God knows that. So what did He do? He came and made a better covenant.
Grace Communion went on to say, “Jesus did what we could not do, and he sacrificed himself for us as a gift, as grace.”
Have they not heard of Arlington National Cemetery? It’s filled with people who sacrificed themselves as a gift for us, to ensure our freedom – even people who burn the flag!
The claim that self-sacrifice is the thing Jesus did that no other human has, is invalid. So what is so different about Jesus’s blood and his sacrifice? What sets him apart from the men and women who die defending our country? What sets him apart from the animals who suffered because of our sin?
Jesus was fully God and fully man. God came down and paid the price for all the sin of the entire world – past, present, and future. But is that all He did? Did He only make life convenient for us so we wouldn’t have to take the time and deal with the mess of sacrificing an animal every time we sinned?
Absolutely not! Jesus’s blood did what goats and bulls could not do. He provided us with an internal change of heart. A heart that no longer wants to sin. A heart that is circumcised.
He tells us in Jeremiah how. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Yet according to Grace Communion, God did not renew that covenant, but started an entirely new one. (Which at the risk of sounding blasphemous I must ask, doesn’t that make Him fickle and unreliable?)
When I read Paul’s letters, I don’t hear a different covenant, I hear him say in Romans and Corinthians that Jesus did what the written Torah could not do because of our sinful nature. I hear him say that He made us new creatures, that old, sinful nature is dead and buried.
Grace Communion goes on to say that “To enjoy the new covenant, we admit that we can’t earn our way into God’s presence — we will never be good enough — but we instead rely on his mercy.
In summary, the new covenant is the relationship we have with God, made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — a relationship based on faith and grace rather than on works of the law.”
And there’s the problem with Christian thinking apart from 1st century Judaic belief. It does not understand that works never earned a relationship with God. A relationship with God always depended on faith in Him, and in His mercy and love.
When we look at the Exodus story, we see a clear picture of what God’s saving grace looks like. God first saved His people from slavery, and then He gave them the covenant that shows what his people look like and how they should live.
Jesus confirmed this covenant when he was asked to give the greatest commandment. His answer, recorded in Matthew 22, quoted Deuteronomy and Leviticus. “You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength.” “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
The relationship between God and his people was always based on faith and grace – never on works. When He cut the covenant with Abraham, God’s expectation of Abraham was faith and faithfulness.
When He cut the covenant with His people at Sinai, God’s expectation of them was faith and obedience.
When He cut the covenant with David, God’s expectation was obedience.
When He announced the covenant at the Last Seder, God’s expectation was faith and obedience. Did not Jesus say, “If you love me, obey me?”
In all the covenants of the Bible – God acted, people accepted, then entered into a relationship. Because of what Jesus did, this better covenant relationship is only ‘better’ because He gave us the internal ability to obey Him – the Living Torah.
As you know all too well, I’ve been pounding away on this very topic for years on my “Morning Meditations” blog. However, as I keep writing “religious” material, I feel like I’m just recycling the same, old message.
Recently, I discovered a whole new approach: writing science fiction.
I know that probably sounds strange, but I’m four stories into a series about how the world’s first two truly AI “Positronic” robots (borrowing heavily from the creations of Isaac Asimov) have become aware of God, first through an exploration of Judaism and then Christianity.
The result is that, not being emotionally attached to any particular theology or doctrine, they can dispassionately examine these religions and come to conclusions where traditional biases are absent. It’s a great way unify the “two halves” of the Bible in a manner not often considered (except by people like you and me).
I don’t want to spam your blog (although this is turning into an unabashed plug for my new material), but if you’re curious, click on my name which is linked to my fresh material (first story is at the bottom).
I know how you feel about recycling, but it still is the Good News, so I am sure you will continue to pursue getting it out there, as will I. In fact, I am taking courses to learn how to expand my reach to ensure the message gets out.
Just when I think I have nothing to say, God downloads a whole new perspective, asks me questions that I cannot answer, driving me straight into His word. I also end up running into people who are seeking and searching to get to know the Jewishness of their Savior. I believe people like you and I are called to help them find the answers they seek.
It’s when we start conversing with those already in the Messy-anic Movement (and I say that lovingly), that we start butting heads. Yet, there are many within the Movement that are still unsure of where to start on this journey to their Jewish Messiah. These two groups of people is where I am called to focus my message.
As to your writing science fiction, I don’t find that strange at all. Think CS Lewis! 🙂 SF is one of my favorite genres.
You, sir, have my complete permission to ‘spam’ this blog. In fact, here is the link to your new site with the story. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Last year, I had an idea for a book series geared more for ‘tweens’ that will spread the message in an enjoyable way. As you pointed out, Yeshua used parables. Stories teach.
So you keep right on writing, James. God will bless it. I know your writing has blessed me.
“Absolutely not! Jesus’s blood did what goats and bulls could not do. He provided us with an internal change of heart. A heart that no longer wants to sin. A heart that is circumcised. How? He tells us in Jeremiah how. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.””
I read what Jeremiah is saying. But what did Jesus do? How did he “provide us with an internal change of heart”? Where does Jesus the man-god dying sacrificially or any exalted figure doing anything at all (or even merely coming down and existing) fit anywhere into what Jeremiah is saying? For that matter, where do any of the prophets say that this how G-d would write His law on “their hearts”, through this medium of a man-god? The more one reads the Jewish scriptures, the more it becomes clear that Jesus the demigod is being force-wedged by Christianity into Jewish prophecies where he is neither found nor belongs. By redirecting humanity’s attention toward its exalted and unbiblical “100% man / 100% god”, Christianity has served to take away the glory from G-d Himself.
Thank you for stopping by, Gene.
To answer your question about what He did to provide us with an internal change of heart – by giving us the Spirit of God. If we are cleansed from sin – which is what the entire sacrificial system did (not just as a foreshadow of things to come).
I know we probably don’t agree on a lot, and that’s fine. I like that we can dialogue.
Is there a way, through the Hebrew scriptures, that God explains how He will write the Torah on their hearts? I am asking this question sincerely.
“Is there a way, through the Hebrew scriptures, that God explains how He will write the Torah on their hearts?”
Ro, it’s just an expression to symbolize that the Torah of G-d will permeate the Jewish people through and through like it never has in the past, to the point that they will never depart from it again.
Consider this statement from Deuteronomy 11:18, which uses a very similar language:
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
Then, in the same Jeremiah 11, the prophet adds “And no longer shall one teach his neighbor or [shall] one [teach] his brother, saying, “Know the L-rd,” for they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest”
Can we honestly say that everyone already has had Torah written on their hearts and that there’s no need to teach others about G-d? If that’s still not the case, how can anyone, especially Christians who have not had the most positive view of Torah for the last two thousand years (to put it mildly), say that the words of Jeremiah have been fulfilled through Jesus? All evidence points to the fact that Jesus’s “law-already-inscribed-in-our-hearts” followers have not done much better (and it could be argued, worse) than the Jews who are yet to have the same Torah written on their hearts. So, in what way then did Jesus fulfill Jeremiah 11 as described?
We do agree on a couple of things, Gene, that Christians have been vehemently opposed to the Torah, maybe not for the entire two thousand years, but then again, Gentiles (myself included) have had a warped view of the Creator since all of us (in Adam and Eve) were kicked out of the Garden.
I hopped over to your site and read just a couple of your posts. I don’t understand all the anger, but if it’s because the missionary work Christians, then I am truly sorry.
You and I also agree about some Hebrew Roots groups. I’ve been blasted here and on social media for continuing to call myself a Gentile. But, I am from the nations. In fact, from Italy/Sicily. So, if I understand my bible and historians correctly, that would make me from the line of Japheth.
I hear what you are saying about the Torah permeating God’s chosen people (from the line of Jacob). And yes, I agree that there is still a need to teach others about God. But aren’t there places in the Hebrew scriptures where things happened progressively? Every Word of God is for the specific time it was spoken, yet it also speaks of future events.
Having participated in Messianic Judaism, I am sure you are aware that the point of this post is that God did not create a ‘new’ covenant, obliterating the old. He would never turn His back on His chosen people. He loves them/you and His character is one of faithfulness.
This is an excellent discusion topic.Thanks Ro for your well put ideas and new insights on it.Allow me to add to it and to Gene’s point of view as well.First Ro and Gene and all please let us first know that we are all humans created by One God who identifies Himself as The God of Israel.The God of all of us is the God of Israel.Both Christians and Jews worship The God of Israel.Both groups proclaim the Lion of Judah as their coming King.Judah is a tribe of Israel.They are in Gods eyes all in His family as Sons and daughters.Israel is the first born Son.Through Abraham Isaac and Jacob ( Israel) all the nations will be eventually blessed.Most Christians and Jewish people have not yet realised that they are part of the same family.They keep focussing on the differences.We have a lot in common.However there are very important differences.In understanding these let us humble ourselves in trying to understand God and His ways .In Isaiah 55: 8-9 God warns us that His thoughts are not our thoughts.Let us know and understand that we are all humans created by our One God and He wants us to seek Him to understand Him Isaiah 55:6.Why do we have to seek Him.?..Because He is hidden…His plans are not always fully understood..they are like a giant jig saw puzzle.He describes Himself in the mechon mamre hebrew bible Isaiah 45 :15 ” Verily Thou art a God who hidest Thyself O God of Israel,the saviour.” In unpacking this verse God is actually revealing much to us.Yes He is hidden and yes He God is the Messiah…the Saviour.Gene our messiah is therefore God who is able to appear on earth as a man.This is reinforced in a “hidden ” way throughout Torah.Genesis 3:15 is the first messianic prophecy.God is telling us of His redemption plan in one verse.my expanded translation..”And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head and thou shall bruise his (the seed of the womans) heel .”The seed of the WOMAN.. אשיה..is the miracle birth …God is the father..Miriam the mother.The bruising of the heel of this seed of a woman is a description of the way Messiah would be sacrificed.. by crucifixtion where the heel is nailed to a stake.In Torah Abraham worships God who appeared as a man.In Torah Jacob wrestled with a man all night to discover he was God Elohim.It is therefore firmly established in Torah that God does and will appear as a man to accomplish His plans.
Regarding true Christians.Unfortuneately the new covenant books has been misinterpretted to them by Pastors.Creating a new religion apart from the continuation of Judaism which is what the plain text teaches.They are called by their own new testament scriptures to see themselves as Jews and behave like Jews.They are hidden too as Ester was a hidden Jew.Married to the King but not behaving like the Jews they are.Like Ester they rise and reveal themselves when Israel or the Jewish people are threatened.Like Ruth the God of the Jews are their God too and the Jewish people are really their people.They die for and are prepared once again to die for the Jewish People.Many Christians like Judas and also other Jews sometimes go rogue or just misalign Gods plans and spread hate for Jews and one another. So many through the ages in disobedience to their messiah hated and even killed people including Jews for not believing exactly as they did.However back to God’s ways..it is all explained in the greatest story of God’s Plan.The Story of Joseph and his brothers.It is the longest story in the first book of Torah…it must be pretty important..for God to do that…right? If you ever feel lost in understanding God’s plan for the redemption of mankind..just analise the Story of Joseph. Joseph is the story of our hidden messiah …Yeshua or Jesus (and like our hidden God).He is mistreated by His brothers when he tells them that one day they would bow before him…they turn him over to the gentiles to be done away with..he becomes the saviour of the gentiles first..he is dressed up in Egyptian dress and culture and given a new name…..he becomes hidden to his family….tribulation comes to the world even to Israel..God allows famine or trouble to drive all Gentiles first to Joseph then Israel….sounds familiar ?…Consider this too..Yeshua born by a miracle like Joseph….is betrayed by his brothers the Jewish people…then turned over to the Romans..then comes out of the pit to rule the gentiles first…they give Him a new non jewish name ..they call him Jesus..they dress him up in european dress and ressemblance..He becomes hidden from His brothers….the Jewish people.Then a time of trouble comes and they seek a Saviour.The Savior treats them harshly but not because He doesnt love them..but because He loves them so..but they needed to show they had changed..they needed to show sacrificial love ..when they did this by offereing up themselves into slavery in exchange for Benjamins life..it triggered the time had come for the revelation of Joseph from a hidden saviour to a revealed saviour.Today Jesus is now being revealed to many Jewish people even in Israel which is facing many enemies and in need a saviour the one they mistreated as Yeshua their brother us waiting on them.Gene will you be one of them? He wants to reveal Himself to you…He wants your love and worship..He is God the saviour.Today is the day of your salvation.All humans need their sins to be atoned.Torah tells us it can only be done by the shedding of blood…and yet not completely by animals then how?..Isaiah 53 tells how.It is by the sacrifice of the servant of God…clearly a man not Israel as some Rabbis think.Yes Israel the nation is also a shadow story of this man-god.A messianic nation which also died for the sins of the nations and has now come back to life as Hosea 6 prophesied.
As for the new covenant it is not yet fully implemented..Yeshua told us… so we are in transition…between his first coming and second coming..one man like Joseph suffering messiah then a period of teshuvah repentance and waiting then as ruleing messiah when all tears will be wiped away in His Kingdom on Earth and Heaven.He is waiting on natural Jewish people to come into this kingdom to help teach Torah to the unnatural…branches of Israel. No longer to be hidden anymore…as the story of Joseph concludes God allows these things..as messy as they seem to us… to transform us to learn sacrificial love for one another..He planned it so the early followers of Yeshua would be Jewish they died spreading the gospels.the good news to the non jewish people..now the beleiving non jewish followers nations are asked to repay the favour of those early Jewish followers and if called to do so even die for the respreading of the good news of messiah’s gift of eternal life…manna …bread from heaven to the children of Israel of our times …..so like Joseph the whole world may be saved.God wants us to be good people with sacrificial love for one another for His good plan.Gene give your life to Yeshua today and be part of this magnificent plan now manifesting at this time…. a time of great restoration of Jewish people to Joseph..fulfilled as Yeshua or Jesus…one and the same Saviour… help us as a natural Jew to restore Torah to the unnatural branches of the family of Israel..The hidden Esters and Ruths..Jews with circumcised hearts waiting for us instruments of God to help wright Torah on their prepared fleshly hearts…..bringing fulfilment to the new covenant when God himself will complete the process and the scriptures.I pray for your salvation to be a completed Jew…restored to the one who gave his life for you and me….He is Yeshua ha Mashiach…Yeshua Adonai.Please visit my website below and click on the facebook icon to see testimonies of many revelations to Jewish people taking place as well as interesting worldwide events linked to bible prophecies.Blessings to all.
Hi Derick, glad to hear from you!
“God is Father…” I’ve recently realized that this statement is an issue, as it demotes Yeshua to a Greek demi-god. It makes him 50% God, 50% human. In my recent post, Is Yeshua a Demi-god?, I point out that God is Spirit and as such, He does not have DNA.
“It is therefore firmly established in Torah that God does and will appear as a man to accomplish His plans.” While I appreciate this statement, it merely emphasizes Docetism (the belief that Jesus only appeared to be flesh). In addition, these instances can be understood as these beings were God’s ambassadors. As an ambassador, they fully represented God. Only in Christendom do we see the interpretation of these visits as being God Himself. It could be that we are trying to justify a god/man being and the pre-existence of Yeshua. However, it is my understanding that in Judaism, the light that God created is understood to be the light of Messiah.
Derick, I appreciate you reaching out to Gene. However, if you look at his site you will see that he was once part of Messianic Judaism, but eventually rejected it.
Messianic Judaism, like Christianity, is full of varying sects. There are some who say the Gentiles coming to Torah are actually the lost tribes of Israel. There are some who say Gentiles cannot/should not observe Torah, some who say we can/should. There are others who are really Christian churches, with traditional Christian misunderstanding, dressed up in Jewish worship garb, but then discard it once service is over. (This is not to knock Christianity, only the misunderstandings that have plagued the church for millennia.)
All this leads to confusion. I believe a big part of the problem/schisms is that Gentiles came in and took over the movement, much as what happened to the early church.
With all these confusing messages out there, it is hard to discern the truth. Because of this, many have left Yeshua behind and either returned to Judaism – as Gene did – or converted to Judaism, denying Yeshua as Messiah. I’ve got to admit that I, too, had my doubts for some time while I was at TAK. However, I came to Torah by the Ruach and our study time together. If it wasn’t for some simple statements by Rabbi Matthew which sent me back to the scriptures to find the truth, I would have left Yeshua behind and converted to Judaism.
To use your example of Joseph, we unfortunately continue to keep Yeshua in His Egyptian (Greek) garb but place a kippa on his head, throw a tallit over his shoulders, and call Him Jewish. Yet when pushed, we fall right back on Christian misunderstanding, don’t really follow Torah (only those parts with which we are comfortable), and expect non-believers to accept the Good News.
Speaking of the Good News, that’s where we get it wrong. We continue to preach that the Good News is ‘Jesus died for us’. But is that what He said? Or rather, did He say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” THAT is the Good News – God, Himself, wants to dwell with us! We’ve perverted the means (death of Messiah) as the message itself. All this accomplished was to water down the Good News, because with a Savior who loves us unconditionally, we continue to walk in disobedience to God’s standard of right living. We think it’s okay because God loves us and Jesus died for our sins.
Sorry for the rant, Derick, I’ve just seen and heard of too many loved ones who had the truth snatched from them because of misinformation, confusion, or hypocrisy. Messianic Judaism, in many instances, has become nothing more than another denomination, instead of being a bridge.