The blessed New Covenant
The writer of Hebrews previously explained how Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant (New Testament), by means of His death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant and goes on to explain – “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’ Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9: 16-22)
The New Testament or new covenant is understood better by understanding what the old covenant or Old Testament was. After the children of Israel became slaves in Egypt, God provided a deliverer (Moses), a sacrifice (Passover lamb), and miraculous power to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. Scofield writes “As a result of their transgressions (Gal. 3: 19) the Israelites were now placed under the precise discipline of the law. The law teaches: (1) the awesome holiness of God (Ex. 19: 10-25); (2) the exceeding sinfulness of sin (Rom. 7: 13; 1 Tim. 1: 8-10); (3) the necessity of obedience (Jer. 7: 23-24); (4) the universality of man’s failure (Rom. 3: 19-20); and (5) the marvel of God’s grace in providing a way of approach to Himself through typical blood sacrifice, looking forward to a Savior who would become the Lamb of God to bear away the sin of the world (John 1: 29), ‘being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets’ (Rom. 3: 21).”
The law did not change the provisions or abrogate the promise of God as given in the Abrahamic Covenant. It was not given as a way to life (that is, a means of justification), but as a rule of living for a people already in the covenant of Abraham and covered by blood sacrifice. One of its purposes was to make clear how purity and holiness should ‘characterize’ the life of a people whose national law was at the same time the law of God. The law’s function was disciplinary restriction and correction to hold Israel in check for their own good until Christ should come. Israel misinterpreted the purpose of the law, and sought righteousness by good deeds and ceremonial ordinances, ultimately rejecting their own Messiah. (Scofield 113)
Scofield further writes – “The commandments were a ‘ministry of condemnation’ and ‘death’; the ordinances gave, in the high priest, a representative of the people with the Lord; and in the sacrifices, a cover for their sins in anticipation of the cross. The Christian is not under the conditional Mosaic Covenant of works, the law, but under the unconditional New Covenant of grace.” (Scofield 114)
Romans so wonderfully teaches us the blessedness of redemption through the blood of Christ – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3: 21-26) This is the gospel. It is the good news of redemption through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone. God does not give us what we all deserve – eternal death, but He gives us eternal life through His grace. Redemption only comes through the cross, there is nothing we can add to it.
Scofield, C. I. The Scofield Study Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.