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Someone Cares Series
Information Brochure No. 9

The New Covenant
Ministry of Jesus


"Covenant means promise or agreement. God's covenant is His promise and plan to save us. It is His 'plan of salvation.'" The Bible speaks of two covenants -- the old one made at Sinai, and the new one established at the cross. Let us compare the two.

1. From where does Jesus carry on His new-covenant ministry for us?

"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Hebrews 8:1, 2).

Jesus is officiating in the presence of God, offering up His shed blood as it had been a lamb slain. Jesus presents the oblation, offered for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner. Christ, our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding in man's behalf, but the Spirit pleads for us not as does Christ who presents His blood, shed from the foundation of the world; the Spirit works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving.

2. Where were the old-covenant services performed?

"Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly" (Hebrews 9:1-5).

The sanctuary to which Paul here refers was the tabernacle build by Moses at the command of God as the earthly dwelling place of the Most High. Beside the outer court which contained the altar of burnt offering, the tabernacle itself consisted of two apartments, called the holy and the most holy place, separated by a rich and beautiful curtain or veil; a similar veil closed the entrance to the first apartment. The sacred tent was enclosed in an open space called the court which was surrounded by hangings. The entrance to this enclosure was at the eastern end. In the court, and nearest the entrance stood the brazen altar of burnt offering. Upon this altar were consumed all the sacrifices made by fire unto the Lord and its horns were sprinkled with the atoning blood. Between the altar and the door of the tabernacle was the laver, which was also of brass. At the laver the priests were to wash their hands and their feet whenever they went into the sacred apartments or approached the altar to offer a burnt offering unto the Lord. In the first apartment or holy place were the table of shewbread, the candlestick or lampstand and the altar of incense.

The table of shewbread stood on the north with its ornamental crown, it was overlaid with pure gold. On this table the priests were each Sabbath to place twelve cakes, arranged in two piles and sprinkled with frankincense. The loaves that were removed were accounted holy and were to be eaten by the priests. On the south was the seven-branched candlestick with its seven lamps. The whole was made from one solid piece of gold and the lamps were never all extinguished at one time, because there were no windows in the tabernacle. Just before the veil separating the holy place from the most holy place and the immediate presence of God stood the golden altar of incense. Upon this altar the priest was to burn incense every morning and evening -- its horns were touched with the blood of the sin offering and it was sprinkled with blood upon the days of atonement. The fire on this altar was kindled by God Himself and was sacredly cherished. Day and night the holy incense was diffused throughout the sacred apartments and without. Beyond the inner veil was the holy of holies where centered the symbolic service of atonement and intercession. In this apartment was the ark, a chest of acacia wood overlaid within and without with gold. It was made as a depository for the tables of stone, upon which God Himself had inscribed the Ten Commandments. Hence it was called the ark of God's testament or the ark of the covenant since the Ten Commandments were the basis of the covenant made between God and Israel. The cover of the sacred chest was called the mercy seat. This was wrought of one solid piece of gold and was surmounted by golden cherubim, one standing on each end. One wing of each angel was stretched forth on high while the other was folded over the body in token of reverence and humility. Above the mercy seat was the Shekinah, the manifestation of the divine Presence, and from between the cherubim God made known His will.

3. What did Paul call the old-covenant sanctuary, with its earthly services?

"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:" (Hebrews 9:24)."My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1, 2).

In His intercession as our Advocate, Christ needs no man's virtue, no man's intercession. Christ is the only sin bearer, the only sin-offering. Prayer and confession are to be offered only to Him who has entered once for all into the holy place. Christ has declared, if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He will save to the uttermost all who come to Him in faith. Jesus stands in the holy of holies now to appear in the presence of God for us.

4. When God illustrated His plan of salvation at Sinai, what covenant did the people make with Him?

"And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD" (Exodus 19:8).

When God gave the old covenant at Sinai the people promised to keep it and they intended to, but they could not do so in their own strength (Romans 8:3). They should have asked God to help them; then the Saviour, to whom the old covenant pointed forward, would have come into their hearts and delivered them from the power of sin. This is the pledge that God's people are to make in these last days. Their acceptance with God depends on a faithful fulfillment of the terms of their agreement with Him. God includes in His covenant all who obey Him.

5. What was the purpose of the laws of the earthly sanctuary?

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).

The Law has no power to pardon the transgressor, but it points him to Christ Jesus who says to him, I will take your sin and bear it Myself if you will accept Me as your substitute and surety. Return to your allegiance and I will impute to you my righteousness. The Law reveals sin to us and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. Everything in the old covenant — its people, its law, its sanctuary and services, its capital city, etc. — represented (or pictured) something in the new covenant established at the cross. Who did the HIGH PRIEST represent?

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The Son of God has fulfilled His pledge, and has passed into the heavens to take upon Himself the government of the heavenly host. He fulfilled one phase of His priesthood by dying on the cross for the fallen race. He is now fulfilling another phase by pleading before the Father the case of the repenting, believing sinner, presenting to God the offerings. Having taken human nature, and in this nature having overcome the temptations of the enemy and having divine perfection, to Him has been committed the judgment of the world.

7. Who did the PEOPLE of the old covenant, the literal children of Abraham, represent?

"So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. ... And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:24, 29).

All who through Christ should become the children of faith were to be counted as Abraham's seed; they were inheritors of the covenant promises; like Abraham they were called to guard and make known to the world the Law of God and the Gospel of His Son.

8. What new-covenant capital city corresponds to the old-covenant CAPITAL?

"Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:24-26).

Some people still look to old covenant Jerusalem for the fulfillment of God's promises. Like the Pharisees, they were clinging to the old covenant "picture," but that covenant was nailed to the cross. The old covenant was like Hagar. Hagar was intended to be the midwife to deliver the child of promise but she was never intended to be the mother of the child. This the old covenant was perfect for leading God's people to Christ and to the New Jerusalem, but it was never intended to take its place.

9. How did the old covenant SACRIFICES take away sins?

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:" (Hebrews 10:4).

The sacrifices occurring year after year were a constant reminder of the fact that the true sacrifice for sin had not yet been made. The blood of animals was not able to take away sin, only the blood of Jesus could do that for the truly repentant sinner. It was Jesus who instituted the sacrificial system. God found no pleasure in the continual sacrifices of the insincere worshiper. Christ took a human body and this body was offered on the cross. These sacrifices were designed to teach the Gospel and faith in the coming Messiah.

10. Who did the LAMB represent?

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

When at the baptism of Jesus John pointed to Him as the Lamb of God, a new light was shed upon the Messiah's work. The prophet's mind was directed to the words of Isaiah, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7). As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man has been lifted up and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself.

11. In the old covenant, what was one purpose of the ten-commandment LAW written on stone?

"What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death" (Romans 7:7-10).

Judged by a human standard, He (Paul) had abstained from sin, but when he looked into the depths of God's Law and saw himself as God saw him, he bowed in humiliation and confessed his guilt. He did not go away from the mirror and forget what manner of man he was, but he exercised genuine repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. He was washed. He was cleansed. Sin then appeared in its true hideousness and his self-esteem was gone. He became humble. He no longer ascribed goodness and merit to himself.

12 Besides providing forgiveness for breaking God's law, why else did Jesus come to earth?

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:3, 4).

Paul learned that there was no power in the law to pardon the transgressor of the Law. Christ, the divine mediator, veiled His divinity with humanity when He came to earth. Had He come clothed with the brightness of heaven He could not have found access to men in their sinful state. They could not have endured the glory of His presence. Therefore He humbled Himself and was made "in the likeness of sinful flesh" that He might rescue the fallen race and lift them up. In the new birth, the heart is brought into harmony with God as it is brought into accord with His law. When this mighty change has taken place in the sinner, he has passed from death unto life, from sin unto holiness, from transgression and rebellion to obedience and loyalty. The old life of alienation from God has ended and the new life of reconciliation, of faith and of love has begun. Then "the righteousness of the law" will "be fulfilled in us."

13. God's law was written on STONE in the old-covenant "picture." Where is it written in the new covenant?

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;" (Hebrews 10:16).

If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the Law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled, "I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them" (Hebrews 10:16). And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience, the service and allegiance of love, is the true sign of discipleship. Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith and faith only that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ which enables us to render obedience.


Some have wondered why, when the Ten Commandments were included in the old covenant, the New Testament says, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may ... enter ... the [New Jerusalem] city" (Revelation 22:14, NKJV). But the old covenant merely foreshadowed the new. In the new covenant the commandments are to be written on our hearts. Do you want Jesus to perform this new-covenant ministry in your life?

Page created: 7/26/98 Updated: 08/09/2006
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