In the last article, we talked about what covenant “love” is, faithfulness shown by loyal obedience to the terms of a covenant.
Admittedly, I was a bit one-sided on the topic. I focused on our responsibility to obey our side of the New Covenant terms. Now I’d like to point out Jesus’ side of the terms He’ promised us under the New Covenant. But first, a refresher.
Here’s our side of the deal. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15. See also John 14:21; 15:10). What are Jesus’ commands?
The commands (terms) of the New Covenant are called the Torah, what is commonly called the Law (misnamed and dreaded by misinformed Christians). Yes indeed, the New Covenant commands are the same as the one in Mosaic/Sinai Covenant. And yes, this is hard for Christians to accept since they’ve been taught (wrongly) that the dreaded “Law” was done away with after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Au contraire, Pierre! Jesus affirmed its continuance until God restores this world as it should be (Matthew 5:18).
No, the Torah was not canceled because the Torah is a MAJOR part of the New Covenant, the same New Covenant which defines and protects our relationship with Jesus, and sets the terms for determining if we really do have a relationship with Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong. We are first and foremost saved by faith through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). But then we are expected to prove we’re saved through faith by our works that follow (James 2:14-26; John 14:21). Those works appear when we walk according to God’s instructions and God’s instructions/commands/guidelines make up the Torah.
So, here’s where God’s Torah sits in the New Covenant.
Under the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), God promised:
“I will put my law (Torah) in their minds and write it on their hearts…”. Remarkable! The inscribing of God’s laws is the very first thing! Why would God do this if His Torah was going to be negated anyway? Why would God make His Torah the terms of the New Covenant if He’s just going to gut them once the New Covenant is activated? Does that make sense to you? Of course not! Imagine a marriage without vows or a contract without stipulations and expectations? Ridiculous.
“I will be their God, and they will be my people…”. We’re given a vital relationship.
“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest…”. We’re given immediate, experiential knowledge of the Lord.
And this! “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” We’re given forgiveness and cleansing. Woo-hoo!
Besides the magnificent other promises, do you see how the Torah is secured in the New Covenant? And here’s something really cool. God’s New Covenant people get even more than the Israelites received under the Mosaic Covenant. For this we need to read Ezekiel’s version (Ezekiel 11:19-20) of the New Covenant:
“I will give them an undivided heart…”. We’re enabled to be devoted to God.
“…and put a new spirit in them…”. We get a revitalized spirit that reconnects us to God.
“I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh…”. Our rebellious desire will be removed and replaced by a desire to obey God.
“Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” We can finally be what God wants us to be! This is the essence of God’s desire for us, to be like our Creator and please Him forever.
“They will be my people, and I will be their God…”. Again, immediate and experiential knowledge of the Lord.
Ezekiel repeats the same promises later in Ezekiel 36:25-28:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.”
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.”
“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” The decrees and laws are part of God’s Torah. Torah as our basic guideline is part of the New Covenant deal.
So let’s nail this down.
1. God made a covenant with His people (the Israelites) at Mount Sinai and gave them the terms for them to obey.
2. God promised a New Covenant that solves the heart issue that hobbled faithfulness to the previous covenant, He provides the Holy Spirit to live in His people, and He gives His people a desire to follow His commands.
Cool! But what is God’s side of the Mosaic Covenant terms?
Check these out! “I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you… Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span”(Exodus 23:22, 25-26).
And this list – Leviticus 26:1-13. And this list – Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
And here’s a doozy for the nation of Israel explicitly! “He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised” (Deuteronomy 26:19).
So if the terms from the Mosaic Covenant are part of the New Covenant, are these blessings part of it as well? Yes, because God doesn’t change (James 2:17) and His Word is eternal (Psalm 119:89). God blesses His people in numerous ways and continues to reward those who seek and obey Him (Hebrews 11:6, 5:9).
So now we come to Jesus’ side of the New Covenant deal.
Covenants have rights and responsibilities for both parties. Our side of the deal can be summed up simply: “If you love me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15).
Now for Jesus. Here is just a part of His side of the deal, what He promises to do for us under our New Covenant with Him (drawn from John 14-16):
I WILL...Love you, Send you the Holy Spirit, Not leave you as orphans, Give you the gift of life, Give you eternal life.
I Will...Reveal myself to you, Prepare a place for you, Come back for you, My Father and I will make our home with you, Make the Father known to you, Let the Father's love for me be in you.
I WILL...Teach you, Give you peace, You will bear much fruit, You will have answered prayers, Let you ask the Father directly, Let you use my Name.
I WILL...Lead you into all truth, Take what is mine and share it with you, Tell you what is to come, Tell you things plainly, Protect you, Let you know me (intimately), Bring you into unity, and Let you see my glory.
Okay, now that you’ve breezed through the list and perhaps said, “So what?”, go back through the list… slowly. Each promise is a gem!
“I will love you.” (pause)
“I will reveal myself to you.” (pause)
“My Father and I will make our home with you.” (pause)
“I will give you peace.” (pause)
“Your prayers will be answered.” (pause)
“I will protect you.” (pause)
And so on.
Let each promise sink in. Don’t be in a hurry. Really think and yes, feel, what breathtaking things Jesus promises you when you’re in a relationship with Him.
Revel in them! These are iron-clad promises to His covenant partner IF you’re born-again.
Who would reject such a deal?
And who would ever want to endanger their relationship with Jesus by deliberately turning their back on Him to embrace the momentary pleasures of sin? Who would ever want to chuck all that by walking away from Jesus?
When we swear allegiance to our Deliverer-King, we embark on a grand journey of learning and training to become like our Covenant Partner.
I want you to steep in the life-changing blessings of Jesus' rock-solid promises to those who are in an eternal relationship with Him and remain faithful.
That’s Jesus’ side of the New Covenant deal.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts