The New Covenant
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #12
June 10, 2014
"Father, we are so grateful to have You to come to in time of need. Father, we know that there are many in this congregation who are facing various challenges. There are people who are taking care of parents; there are others who are dealing with certain very challenging situations with their children. Father, we also know that there are others who are facing economic challenges. We pray for them and that Your Grace would be abundant and manifest in their lives; and that they would have a tremendous testimony of Your Grace in supplying their needs. Father we pray for Michael and David as they are going through their PhD coursework the next three weeks. We pray that You would give them rest and good night's sleep; give them opportunities to study, focus, and do well in all of their work. Father, we pray for us as we study this evening; that we might be able to focus and understand the things that You have revealed that it might help us to clarify Your Word and to understand how to apply it more precisely in our lives. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
We are continuing our study tonight on Dispensations and for those who are out there listening, live streaming, and anyone local, if you have questions let me know. If you don't have questions tonight either you are totally lost and confused or you just don't know what to ask; because this is an area that is surely an area of much confusion for many believers and it certainly an area of confusion in relation to a lot of Christians. That is in the area of the New Covenant. So we have gone through the various covenants in the Old Testament (OT). This is the last covenant that is mentioned in the OT; and the one under which many people believe that we are operating today. Usually they go to one of two verses to substantiate that. They will go to Luke 22:20 where Jesus is instituting the Lord's Table, "and when He came to the cup He said, "This cup is the new covenant of My blood, which is given for you."" And they believed that in someway is instituting the New Covenant. In 2 Corinthians 3:6 Paul states that we have been made "ministers of the new covenant"; so doesn't that mean that that is what we are proclaiming right now is the New Covenant? Then, of course, a third passage that is not quite as pronounced as those two, is in Hebrews 8:6 when it talks about the fact that Christ is a "Mediator of a better covenant"; and this passage goes on then to quote the central passage on the New Covenant, which is found in Jeremiah 31:31-33.
XIV. New Covenant
Now I want to begin here and read this because this is the only passage in the OT that calls this the New Covenant. I believe and we will study a number of other passages that say almost identical things to this and they are corollary passages, but they don't use the term New Covenant. Now that in itself is a matter of debate among various dispensationalists because there are those who say that Jeremiah 31:31-33 (see slide #3*, The New Covenant) is the only New Covenant passage. The others do not have any thing to do with it. My reply is that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck; it is a duck. If it is talking about the consequences of something or if it is talking about the characteristics of an eternal covenant, which this is, and it is describing the same features, then it is the New Covenant. There are many who believe that. That is I think, probably, the most predominate position among dispensationalists.
So in Jeremiah 31:31 Jeremiah writes his message from the LORD, "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." Now this is important to understand that what we see here; and I will reiterate this ad nauseam tonight, is that this is a covenant or contract that God is making with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. He is making that covenant with Israel, not with the church. If you read into this, and we have had one listener who has had some dialog with those who hold to covenant theology. If you hold to covenant theology what you are reading into this is a presupposition and that is that Israel in the OT is the church in secret and the church today is spiritual Israel. And so therefore, when it talks about God making a covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, what they read there is that this means the church of the OT. But they are reading that into the text everywhere else in the Scripture up to this point. Where you have the house of Israel and the house of Judah, it is describing literally the twelve tribes of Israel. The physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
So God says that He is going to make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers." See how this further reinforces that literal interpretation. It is contrasted with a previous covenant that was made with their fathers. Now when did He make it with their fathers? Well the verse goes on to say, "that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant, which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD," Jeremiah 31:32. It is very clear that He expands on this idea that the house of Israel, the house of Judah, at the time that this is given, which is approximately 605 BC. He says, this is "not like the covenant I made with their fathers," and they are described as those who came out of Egypt, the descendants of course of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Jeremiah 31:33 (slide #3, The New Covenant) we read, "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," which is a term that refers to the future time of wrath, future time of dispersion of the nation throughout all of the nations under the fifth cycle of discipline and God says that, "after those days." Is it after those days yet? Has the last seven years of Daniel's 70th week taken place yet? The time of the Tribulation? Has that taken place yet? No. So if that hasn't taken place yet, then this covenant is has not been enacted yet because God says that he will make that covenant with the house of Israel "after those days." The reason I am pointing that out is the debate that we see today among a subset of alleged dispensationalists; they are called progressive dispensationalists. And I am not sure that most traditional dispensationalists would agree that they are even dispensationalists. In fact when one of the first books was written on progressive dispensationalism a former dispensationalist, an OT scholar from Dallas Seminary by the name of Dr. Bruce Waltke their book and said, they are amillennial, but they don't know it. They are not really dispensationalists any more, but they don't want to admit it.
So, what they (the progressive dispensationalists) say is that the New Covenant was "inaugurated." That is an important word to listen for in this discussion. It was "inaugurated." To inaugurate something means for it to begin; for something to start. They would say that it was inaugurated but it hasn't been fully put into effect yet. This position has become known as the "already not yet view" of the kingdom. The "already not yet view" of the New Covenant because you see the enacting of the New Covenant happens at the beginning of the Kingdom. So the two things really do go together, which correlates with a lot of the things we are studying relating to the Kingdom on Sunday morning. So God says, "this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days" not before those days. So in terms of the language of Jeremiah 31:33, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is the sacrifice that undergirds the New Covenant, doesn't make the covenant. Now that is hard for some people to understand because that is not what they have assumed or been led to believe. But if Jeremiah 31:33 is correct, that God only makes the covenant or enters into the covenant after those days, after the Tribulation; then whatever is going on today can't be the New Covenant. It may look like it; it may be related to its future establishment, but whatever we see going on today isn't the New Covenant. We will have to address those passages I mentioned at the introduction when we get there.
And then God describes some characteristics of what it will be like in the time of the New Covenant. God says, (Jeremiah 31:33 continued) "I will put My law in their minds," now He is not doing this indirectly through teachers because in some of the parallel passages that we'll see, no one will teach their neighbor because everyone will know the law. Not most of them, not every believer, but everyone will know the law. Therefore, there is no place for teaching. Now remember, who is the covenant made with? The covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. These are not covenant provisions that apply to Gentiles in the Kingdom. This only applies to the Jews that are in the Kingdom because they are the covenant partners. So if you are Jewish in the Millennial Kingdom under the New Covenant, then according to this passage, the law has been placed in your mind by God. It is a completely different dynamic than what we have seen in any previous dispensation. But guess what? You don't understand it; and I don't understand it. Why? Because it is about as foreign to us. In terms of our experience with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit for us is foreign to those who were under the Old Covenant. They had no concept of the filling of the Spirit or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit prior to the Day of Pentecost. Just like we have no frame of reference for understanding the dynamic that will take place under the New Covenant.
God says, (Jeremiah 31:33 continued) "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." The third person plural pronoun here that is repeated, "their minds," "their hearts," their God," "my people" all are descriptive. There is a totality there that is significant to understand. So this introduces us to the New Covenant. Now let's put this within the framework of what we studied already. In the OT we see that promises are made and in the future they will be fulfilled. Many of these promises have not yet been fulfilled. Now I am going to add to the chart our dispensational chart (see slide #4, God's Covenant with Israel). Here we have the various dispensations beginning really with Abraham and the formation of Israel, the Patriarchs, Moses; then we move to the Theocracy and the Monarchy, all of these, the Exile, the Restoration. These are the periods that take place within the Age of Israel. You could divide it: the first part would be the Dispensation of the Patriarchs, and from this point on this would be the Dispensation of the Law, the giving of the Law. So this is part of the Age of Israel. The timeline is split by the Cross. Following the Cross you have the Dispensation of the Church, the authority of the Apostles, and the final dispensation, the Millennium and the authority is going to be Jesus Christ.
What really distinguishes Israel from everybody else and what redefines God's purpose for history is the Abrahamic Covenant. The three elements as we studied to the Abrahamic Covenant are: land, seed and blessing. Each one of those aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant is then given a greater expression in subsequent covenants. Last time we looked at the Real Estate Covenant, which is defined in Deuteronomy 29-30, talking about how God will bring Israel back to the land after a worldwide scattering. He brings them back to the land and they will be in the land. When is this fulfilled? Not until the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. That is when He restores them to the land. Then we saw the Davidic Covenant. In the Davidic Covenant God promises an eternal descendant of David will sit on David's throne, a literal throne, in a literal Jerusalem. He will rule over God's people. But when is the Davidic Covenant fulfilled? It is not fulfilled by Christ's first coming; it is fulfilled at the Second Coming. At the same time that the land covenant is fulfilled. It is fulfilled at that time as well. Then we have the New Covenant, which is what we are studying this evening. The New Covenant is fulfilled at the Second Coming as well. All three of these happen simultaneously.
So in some of these passages that you study and that you will read in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Daniel, and some of the Minor Prophets, you see an interrelationship when it talks about the fulfillment of these covenants. The reason I have a dashed line (slide #4) there going to the Church is because the certainty of that covenant has been established by Christ's death on the cross. That is the sacrifice that undergirds the covenant. That covenant and some of the covenant blessings are applied to us today. It is pretty simple. I am surprised it confuses some people, but it is pretty simple. God entered into a contract in the OT with Abraham. God unilaterally established a covenant with Abraham and God alone is responsible for fulfilling that covenant. It is not dependent upon Abraham. That is what we call it an unconditional covenant. It is an eternal covenant. God told Abraham that on the basis of this covenant between God and Abraham, God would in turn "bless" all the nations. God would "bless" all the Gentiles. It would have nothing to do with you Gentiles out there. It would have everything to do with this legal document that God established between Himself and Abraham.
When we go to the New Covenant, which deals with the expansion of the blessing idea in the Abrahamic Covenant, what God does is that He enters into this legal contract, with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, and says that on the basis of this contract I am going to "bless" the Gentiles. It is the same thing we have already seen in the OT. This doesn't mean that the Gentiles have to be a party to the contract. Nowhere does it state that the church is a party to the New Covenant. The New Covenant is always stated to be between God and the house of Israel and the house of Judah. But because that is established by virtue of the death of Christ on the Cross, then on the basis of the certainty of that future covenant, being made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, God is able to do things today because that sacrifice, which is the foundation for the New Covenant, has already made and already made in the past. So this helps us see how ultimately the Real Estate Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant, all of these are fulfilled in the end times.
Now let's go through a summary of these passages (slide #5, The New Covenant):
A. We have seen that the primary Scripture for the new covenant is in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
B. Based upon reading that we see that there are two groups involved (Persons): God is party of the first part, the Triune God; and Israel, the house of Israel, the house of Judah, the party of the second part. It is a unilateral covenant. God binds Himself to the fulfillment of the covenant.
C. Now let's look at its importance: it develops that third of aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant, the blessing aspect. The Land Covenant expanded the land promise; the Davidic Covenant expanded the Seed promise, and the New Covenant expands the blessing.
D. Now let's look at the "Provisions" (see slide #6, Provisions). This is just going to summarize them, then I am going to go back and we are going to look at all of these different passages. Now if you went through the Hebrews study with me some years ago, when we came to Hebrews 8, actually starting in Hebrews 7 and on into Hebrews 8, we did a pretty exhaustive study of covenants and the New Covenant. So that is another place you could go if you wanted to drill down into more of these particular details.
1. The first thing that we see in summary is that it is an unconditional covenant between God and both houses of Israel. It is not made with the Church. The Church is not in view of anything in the OT. That is why Paul referred to it as a "mystery doctrine." Mystery means a previously unrevealed truth. So there is nothing in the OT that even gives a hint of the Church in the future. So the covenant is not made with the Church. At the time the covenant was made there is no house of Israel. They have already been taken out of the land through the Assyrian invasion and the northern kingdom was destroyed in 722 BC. So they have already been scattered among the nations. The only thing that is in existence at the time that Jeremiah wrote this in 605 BC is the house of Judah; and they only have about 20 years left before they are going to be out under the fifth cycle of discipline.
2. Second, it is clear that this is distinct from the Mosaic Covenant. Just as we saw with the Land Covenant and with the Davidic Covenant, God specifically states that it is not according to the covenant made when Israel came out of Egypt; that is in Jeremiah 31:32.
3. The third thing it promises is the regeneration of Israel. The regeneration of Israel; this will be universal among all Jews "from the least to the greatest" the text says. It is going to be applied to everyone. Now that is hard for us to understand. But the Bible says that every Jew is going to be saved. This is part of the reason, remember, that we go back to the Law.
We go back to Deuteronomy 27; we go back to the early part of Leviticus 26; God promised a whole host of blessings to Israel on what condition? That they are all obedient to the Law. That condition is only going to be fulfilled under the terms of the New Covenant in the future; and that is the only time you are going to have all this blessing. That is what is described in all these passages. It is the wonderful ways in which God is going to bless Israel to the maximum as God has promised He would in the OT if they were obedient. So we see that this fits the context. Why are they going to be obedient? Because finally, after all these years of rebelliousness and being stiff-necked, they are so judged and disciplined and go through such a hellacious period during the Tribulation, that this is something that stays with them and when they hear these stories no Jew is going to reject the gospel during the Millennial Kingdom. That is a fact. It doesn't mean that God is going to reach in and tweak their volition.
Some writers say, well God chose them. Don't read into those phrases some sort of Calvinistic presupposition. Most of the men in this room that have been married chose their wives, but I don't think any of the men in this room chose their wife apart from their volition. Just because you say that God chose us doesn't mean that throwing volition down in the garbage disposal. It just means that those sentences and those statements are emphasizing the Divine side and not the human side. Paul, especially in the New Testament (NT), makes that very clear; that God chose us in Christ. There are conditions that are clearly stated, but they are not stated everywhere. God does not feel it necessary to satisfy the unreasonable demands of human editors and qualify every statement every time He makes it. He says it once and that is enough for the rest of the Scripture. You just have to understand it. So, there is the promise of regeneration for Israel.
4. There is a promise that all their sins will be forgiven. This is seen in Jeremiah 31:34, "No more shall every man teach his neighbor." Again you have the universal adjective there for "every man"; it applies to every single person.
You start trying to change the meaning of these universal terms "every" and "all" in a passage like this you have real problems when you come to Genesis 6-9, when you have the terms used in every other verse to describe the universality of Noah's Flood. If "every" and "all" used again and again and again throughout Genesis 6-7 refer to the universality of the Flood, it certainly refers to the universality of salvation and regeneration in the Millennial Kingdom. "No more," God says, "shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother saying "Know the LORD."" In other words, among Israel there won't be a need for an evangelist or a gift of evangelism. When "no more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother" that involves outside the family and inside the family. That means parents don't even need to tell their children. That is the point. This is going to be a remarkably distinct period spiritually than anything else we have seen. So, if you are confused, that is fine. We haven't been there yet. "For they shall all know Me," God says. "From the least of them to the greatest of them." The universality of these statements is beyond doubt; From the least to the greatest of them, says the LORD. "For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more."
So this is a profound statement about these unique spiritual characteristics of the time under the New Covenant when it was established. When I first went to seminary, because it was in dispensationalism, a lot of these things are muddy. They are not real clear and some people get confused. There are a lot of seminary professors and others who teach that the New Covenant came in in a quasi way, in a partial way, with the beginning of the Church. And so what we see is similarities or partial fulfillments. I would say that we see similarities, but no partial anything. It is just not the New Covenant. We are still in an era when the New Covenant hasn't been made yet. There are similarities that anticipate the New Covenant. The indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in every believer is profound today. It is nothing like this. This is an indwelling of the Spirit in every Jewish believer so that they don't need to know the Word. They don't need to be informed of the Word. They don't need to teach the Word. That is not like the indwelling of the Holy Spirit today. That is nothing like the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit today. It is a unique environment. So, that establishes it; that summarizes it in those verses.
E. Confirmation (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 61:8-9; see slide #7, Confirmations): Now there are a number of other verses, not just these, that provide us with confirmation about this. They come from Isaiah; they come from Jeremiah; and they also come from Ezekiel.
What we are going to do tonight is go through may of these passages in order to see how God has talked about this; and the timing in which He talks about this. That is important because in the context of a lot of these verses that correlate with Jeremiah 31, we know that it must be the New Covenant, because it is talking about an eternal covenant that comes into effect at the time that the Kingdom is established. There are only two other options, the Land Covenant and the Davidic Covenant. So when the descriptions or characteristics of the covenant that are being discussed are in the spiritual realm, it has to be the New Covenant.
Isaiah 42:6 (see slide #8) says, "I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations," here He is talking to His Servant. So this is talking about Christ as the covenant.
Isaiah 49:8, "Thus says the LORD, 'In a favorable time I have answered You, and in a day of salvation I have helped You; and I will restore You and give You for a covenant of the people, …." Now I want you to look at some of these verses. I am going to slip back because this is a really interesting verse here. Isaiah 49 is again talking about the Servant. This is the Servant section and God is addressing His Servant. Earlier in the chapter in Isaiah 49:3 God says, "You are My Servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified." By the time we get down to Isaiah 49:8 God is no longer addressing Israel, He is addressing another person. Thus, we have the LORD in this chapter; we also have the Servant, who is also identified. It gets a little ambiguous at times because you are shifting back between members of the Trinity. You have the Redeemer of Israel in Isaiah 49:7, which is probably speaking about God the Father. "Thus says Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, to Him who man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors, to the Servant of rulers:" and it goes on from there. "Because of the LORD who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; and He has chosen You."
And so here it is shifting from the servant, Israel is the servant, to talking about this individual who is the Servant. And in Isaiah 49:8 the LORD says, "In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people…" now the people here refers to Israel. So God would not be saying I am giving you Israel as a covenant to the people Israel. So that is how we know that this is talking about a person other than Israel. The identity of the servant has shifted by Isaiah 49:8. "I will preserve you and give You as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages…" that is the land that has been under condemnation during the years that Israel was out of the land. So, this indicates the identification of the covenant with the Servant Who is the One Who makes that covenant.
Turn over a couple of chapters past the well known chapter Isaiah 53 to Isaiah 54 (see slide #9). We have another reference to a covenant here. This covenant is described as a covenant of peace. This is another term that is used for the New Covenant. In Isaiah 54:10 we read, "'For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, …." The first part of that verse is talking about that even though geographical features may change, I never change. So it is using an idiom, a very picturesque language there to emphasize the immutability of God and the certainty of His grace; "…but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed." So this covenant of peace is what ultimately is established by Christ on the Cross, because He is the One Who according to Paul in Ephesians 2, breaks down the wall of enmity between Jew and Gentile and between creatures and God and establishes peace.
So this must refer to the New Covenant and describes it as a covenant of peace. Again it is implied here that this covenant is never broken, so it is an eternal covenant that is stated more clearly in the next chapter in Isaiah 55:3. Again a very famous chapter that is often used in evangelism. I will just begin at Isaiah 55:1, "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." It is grace. It has no price on it. It is talking about salvation. Isaiah 55:2-3 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you -- the sure mercies of David." Now this connects it to the Davidic Covenant. It is talking about spiritual blessings, so that connects it, identifies it with the New Covenant.
Then we come to Isaiah 61:8 (slide #10). This connects it to the Character of God and the Justice of God. Isaiah 61:8-9 we read, this is toward the end of Isaiah's prophesy, "For I the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them." So He establishes His everlasting covenant. He is the One Who makes it. It is unilateral. "Then their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed." I want you to note that in Isaiah 61:8 when it says, "For I the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering…"; the second part of that is talking about injustice in Israel in time. "I will faithfully give them their recompense …"; that is talking about God will bring judgment upon them for their disobedience. But then He will follow that judgment, which is the Tribulation period, with an everlasting covenant. So the judgment does not completely do away with Israel or its significance. After punishing Israel for their sins God will make this everlasting covenant with them that result in her salvation. For all Jews who survive the Tribulation period go into the Millennial Kingdom. They are all saved, as we will see in Romans 11.
So let's look at some other points (see slide #11):
1. First of all, after punishing Israel for their sins, God makes an everlasting covenant with them resulting in their salvation. This is seen in passages such as: Isaiah 59:21 (see slide #12), "'As for Me,' says the LORD, 'this is My covenant with them: My Spirit Who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth …"; so there is an emphasis on the distinct role of God the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant that because of that ministry the Word of God will not depart from them. The idea that it" shall not depart from their mouth" means that it is always going to be on their lips, something they talk about, something that is part of their life. "Not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants,' says the LORD, 'from this time and forevermore.'" That is pretty exclusive universal language.
Then we come to Jeremiah 32:40-41 (slide #13), God says, "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me." Now that does not mean that God does this apart from their volition. But it does show that God is the One Who ultimately does that; and He brings this about so that the result will be that they will not depart from them. After the discipline and judgment they experience during the Tribulation period, that is how God puts the fear for the Lord into them. The result of that is that they will not depart from Him. Does that mean that they don't have volition anymore? No. But it means that no one will exercise negative volition; no Jew will exercise negative volition during the Millennial Kingdom. God goes on in Jeremiah 32:41, "Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land…"; what covenant is that? That is the Land Covenant. "I will plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul."
Then we come to Ezekiel 16 (see slides #14-15). So we have looked at Isaiah; we have looked at Jeremiah; now turn over to Ezekiel. That is the Book after Jeremiah, Ezekiel 16. One of the things that I have done many times in the past when I am reading through, especially the Major Prophets here; is that I make a note in the margin. Every time there is a promise of God related to the restoration of the Jews to the land. It is amazing how many times God makes this promise. Ezekiel 16:60-63; this is a very long chapter and I am not going through the whole thing. He concludes the chapters saying, "Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish…"; that is future tense. He remembers the old covenant and He is going to establish a New Covenant, "an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your older and younger sisters, for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, in order that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation…"
See their future obedience, the universal response to the grace of God in the Millennial Kingdom is directly tied to the judgment that they experience during the Tribulation period that was known as the time of Jacob's wrath. It is not that Jacob has wrath, but Jacob receives the wrath or the discipline of God. Ezekiel 16:63, "in order that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done, "the LORD GOD declares."
Now we go to another chapter a few more pages down, Ezekiel 34 (see slide #16). Notice how this promise of this future time is interwoven again and again. Here is another passage that refers to this covenant as a covenant of peace. Ezekiel 34:25-31, "I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land." Notice the similarities with the promise in the Mosaic Covenant. If they were obedient God would remove the wild beasts from the land. God is not liked by the environmentalists. He constantly trying to remove the wild beasts from the land. "They will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing." This is the fulfillment of those blessing promises in the early part of Deuteronomy 27 and Leviticus 26. God is just going to outpour these blessings upon Israel.
Ezekiel 34:27-28 (see slide #17), "Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase." That is that productivity promised as part of the Mosaic Covenant. "They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD." There is not going to be a threat of military attack. "They shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslave them. And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. Ezekiel 34:29-30 (see slide #18), "'I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore.'" It is a unique period. "'Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,' says the LORD GOD." Ezekiel 34:31 (see slide #19) "'You are my flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,' says the LORD GOD." So He provides all of this.
2. Now the second thing we see, from looking at these passages in the Prophets, is that the result of the covenant that is described in Ezekiel 34:25-28 (see slide #20), only then will Israel enjoy the blessings that we just read about and they are described again in Ezekiel 36:26-31, when they dwell securely in the land. Notice what God says in this passage. This is so important; it ties to the spiritual aspect over in Jeremiah 31:34.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 (see slide #21), "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you." These are plural pronouns. God is not talking to them as individuals, but talking to them as a corporate entity. He is saying this to all of them, I will give all of you a new heart. I will put a new spirit in all of you. "I will take the heart of stone out of yawl's flesh and give yawl a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes." Notice it is very clear there. God is the One Who is the ultimate cause. That doesn't mean there are different ways in which causation is described. There is intermediate causation and ultimate causation, and God is talking here about ultimate causation. It is not a violation of volition or the individual's volition, but that God is the One Who is working in a distinct way ultimately. "I will cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."
Ezekiel 36:28-29 (see slide #22), verse 28 describes the results, "Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you." Ezekiel 36:30-31 (see slide #23), "And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations." God is going to overwhelm them with grace and bounty so that they remember what happened before. They remember the idolatry; they remember their disobedience; and their shame is so profound that this then motivates them to never be disobedient again.
3. A third thing we see is that in Ezekiel 37:25-28 (see slide #24), now moving to the next chapter, that the New Covenant is called the covenant of peace, as we have seen in Isaiah as well. Their dwelling will be secure and the nations will all know that the LORD has established them, and they will be a witness to the world. Now Ezekiel 37 is the "dry bones" passage that is describing the initial regathering of the nation prior to God breathing into it, which is a picture of the regeneration of the nation. And in Ezekiel 37 we see this description given. Ezekiel 37:25-26 (see slide #25), "Then they shall dwell in the land..." That is the land covenant. "…that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever…"; that is because none of them are unbelievers. "… their children's children forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever." That is not an allusion to Jesus Christ. You have a tier of authority there. You have Christ as the King and David the prince. "Moreover," God says in Ezekiel 37:26, "I will make a covenant of peace with them, and I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forever." So there is not going to be a future time of judgment upon the nation as the Mosaic Law clearly predicted many times. Ezekiel 37:27-28 (see slide #26), God says, "My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people." The word for "tabernacle" means dwelling; My dwelling shall also be with them. "The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore." If they were going to rebel again it wouldn't be there "forevermore."
4. (See slide #27) Then we come into the NT. In Romans 11:25-27 we see another allusion to the New Covenant. When it is established there is going to be universal salvation in Israel and material prosperity in the land. In Romans 11:25-27 (see slide #28) Paul writes, "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." The implication there and the way this Greek world "until" is used, it indicates that once the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, then the partial blindness goes away. "And so all Israel will be saved."
I have had people say, well how can God say that? People have volition. Quit arguing with God! It is very clear that God states this, "all Israel will be saved." Because those who survive the Tribulation are those who escaped when they saw all the things happening at the mid-point related to the abomination of desolation. And they left. They fled to the mountains. The only people who flee to the mountains and survive are the ones who listen to Jesus. I don't think there is going to be a whole lot of unsaved Jews that are going to be listening to the warnings of Jesus halfway through the Tribulation. Those who do leave, so that this remnant, that heads to the wilderness around Petra and Bozrah are the ones who will be physically delivered and this is when the Deliverer, which describes the Messiah, the Deliverer will come out of Zion and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. "For this," God says, "is My covenant with them when I take away their sins," Ezekiel 11:27. That is the application of the New Covenant to Israel and their salvation.
Now that gives us a pretty broad understanding of the OT passages. Before we look at some of the NT issues related to the Church, we probably need to pause and see if anybody has got a question? Lots of them! Alright! Okay:
Question from Pittsburgh: When we say that the knowing of the whole Law will be in the minds and hearts applies to only Jews in the Kingdom and not to the Gentiles, does this apply to those Gentiles that have died prior to the Rapture and since returned with Jesus Christ; or does it apply only to those Gentiles who survive the Tribulation; or does it apply to both?
Answer: What happens at the end of the Tribulation is that you have Gentile believers who survive, Jewish believers who survive, and they go into the Kingdom. The covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, and these provisions apply only to the saved Jewish believers who go into the Kingdom. Those provisions do not apply to the Gentiles. These are strictly speaking for the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Now all Gentiles who died and all Jews who died prior to the Second Coming are going to be resurrected. Church Age believers have already been resurrected at the Rapture and rewarded. All Tribulation martyrs are going to be resurrected and they will rule in the Kingdom and Gentiles from the OT will also be resurrected. So everybody goes into the Kingdom, but they've got resurrection bodies. So the covenant doesn't apply to those who are in resurrection bodies. It applies only to those who are in mortal bodies in the Millennial Kingdom and it is restricted primarily to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
Question from Pennsylvania: Jeremiah 31:34 says Jews in the Millennium will know doctrine without needing to be taught. But Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2 speak of the nations and the fact that many people will say let us go up to the mountain of the LORD to house of God of Jacob, He will teach us His ways. Does this mean that in the Millennium only the Jews will have that innate knowledge of doctrine, but the Gentiles will still need to be taught?
Answer: Yes, that is exactly what it means. The nations, that is the Gentiles; that is the goyim that it is talking about there in the Hebrew. The nations, the Gentiles, come to Israel to be taught, but everyone in Israel; this is when it is fulfilled. They become a Kingdom of priests. This is the first time in history that they function as a full kingdom of priests as God called them to be back in Exodus 19:3-6.
Next time, I am going to go ahead and stop here because we have got a whole group of things to deal with coming up under the next topic, which is what is the relationship of the Church to the New Covenant? Now I have already indicated that in a broad sense in the chart that we looked at earlier, which shows that the Church today receives blessing on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is the sacrifice for the New Covenant. But that did not establish the covenant. When we look at these passages, one of the things I have tried to emphasize, is that when the New Covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah there are other things that are happening at the same time. The Jews are brought back as a regenerate people to the land. Has that happened yet? And there is a descendant of David on the literal throne in Jerusalem. Now one of the problems you have with progressive dispensationalism, which is why Bruce Waltke said that they were amillennial and don't know it; is because they argue that Jesus is now on the throne of David in heaven. They have spiritualized it. That is the exact same argument that you would get from an amillennialist, as they spiritualize these promises.
So progressive dispensationalists have come up with a new hermeneutic, called a complementary hermeneutic. They had to figure out a way to justify getting this out of the Scripture, so they added something new. This gets into a whole other area, which we will describe later on, that talks about how the OT is used in the NT. That is why these things are so important in understanding the Scripture because they would say that the NT gives a whole new meaning and adds something that was never intended by the original authors. You have people like Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Bob Thomas, who have done wonderful work in this area showing/giving basically the same answer; although their terminology and their categories are a little different. They are giving basically the same answer, and this is not unique to them. There are others like Michael Rydelnik up at Moody in Chicago. In fact, Rydelnik is taken a lot of the stuff that Arnold has taught for years and refined it and made it much more scholarly because that is his role. A lot of times people get the idea when looking at somebody like Arnold, because he sounds so scholarly, that Arnold is scholarly. And in a sense he is, but not like someone who is an academic like Rydelnik, who's in that milieu day in and day out teaching students.
You get people like Arnold who is primarily an evangelist and a Bible teacher to the people in the pew, as opposed to somebody who is doing more rigorous levels of research because they teach in a very narrow (area). See, you get somebody in seminary who is teaching in NT studies, OT studies, or particular other studies in theology; they become sort of specialists. They spend years reading and studying in this same general narrow area. Whereas, with most pastors and people who teach across the board to folks in churches and in conferences around the country, to many people who do not have much Bible background; you are more like a GP (General Practitioner). You may be a more intellectual, more academic GP, but you are a GP. You are not a specialist in oncology or cardiology or some other specialty. You are more of a general practitioner. That is what most pastors are. Most pastors need to be a heck of a lot more scholarly than they are, but we have to recognize within the body of Christ that there is a division of labor and we thank God for people like Rydelnik and Bob Thomas and others who have been able to specialize and narrowly focus in some of these areas. We benefit immensely from their scholarship. We also have people like Arnold and Steven Ger, who I believe is now the new president of Ariel Ministries, and some of these others who have a great job of helping bring some of this more academic material down to a little more basic level so more people can access it and understand it.
Let's bow our heads together and close in prayer. Father, thank You for this opportunity to look at these things this evening to be reminded that even though the church age is a unique age, a distinct age, and there are blessings that we have in Christ that go beyond anything anyone will ever have in any dispensation; there is still a future dispensation for Israel under the New Covenant that will have remarkable aspects to it and features in relation to the role of God the Holy Spirit. And at that time You will accomplish all the things prophesied in the OT.
"Father, help us realize that we now are in preparation for that Kingdom, looking forward to it, and that these studies are so important because we are not going to be divorced from this time period, but we are going to be actively involved as co-rulers with the Lord Jesus Christ during the Millennial Kingdom overseeing the administration of the Gentile nations in the Millennial Kingdom; and the role that we play in the future will have a lot to do with how we grow and mature as believers today. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."