By ELDER DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
Memory Text: “ ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah’ ” (Jeremiah 31:31, RSV).
A cartoon in a magazine years ago showed a business executive in an office standing before other executives. He was holding a box of detergent in his hands, showing it to the other men and women. He proudly pointed to the word “New” that was displayed in large red letters on the box, the implication being, of course, that the product was new. The executive then said, “It’s the ‘New’ on the box that is new.” In other words, all that changed, all that was new, was simply the word New on the box. Everything else was the same.
In a sense, one could say that the new covenant is like that. The basis of the covenant, the basic hope that it has for us, its basic conditions, are the same as what was found in the old covenant. It has always been a covenant of God’s grace and mercy, a covenant based on a love that transcends human foibles and defeats.
It is clear: the new covenant is not so different from the old covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai. In fact, the problem with the Sinai covenant was not that it was old or outmoded. The problem, instead, was that it was broken (see Jer. 31:32).
SABBATH: Just as the two parts of the Scriptures have received the names Old & New Testament but all communicate the same message, so is the covenant God made with men named Old & New covenant to cover the two periods allotted for man’s redemption. The newness of the old covenant is in its renewal. Both offer God’s grace & mercy. It’s just like putting “new” on a soap box but not changing the soap.
SUNDAY: The Old & New covenant are not so different. There are several lines of continuity in both; God is the same in both, the law is the same in both, the partners are the same (God & man), the purpose is the same (“I will be their God, and they will be my people”). The “fault” of the old was not in the covenant itself but in the fact that it was broken by man (Jer. 31:31-34, read Rom. 2:15; Matt. 5:17-28).
MONDAY: Although the concept of a “new” covenant first occurs in Jer. 31:31, other prophets such as Hosea predicted a new covenant 150 years before Jeremiah (Hos. 2:18-20; Jer. 31:31-34). Amid the rebellion of man against God, from time to time He sent prophets to remind His people that He’s ready to enter into a covenant with them when they repent (Ezek. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26, 27; Jer. 24:7).
TUESDAY: The promises of both the old & new covenant was for all people, even though God chose Israel as the point of contact. All Jews & Gentiles were invited to partake in it by agreeing to it (Isa. 56:6, 7, Jer. 31:33). The “new” is called “better” because it was not based on faulty but better promises (see Rom. 11:5, 7, 13-24, Eph. 2:12, Heb. 9:15). Christ is the mediator of the new covenant, for all believers.
WEDNESDAY: In details, the new covenant is better because unlike the old which was made through animal sacrifices, the new was made through the death of Christ & His priestly/mediating service in heaven (Heb. 8:6-8, 4:2). In both the old & new the salvation offer is the same, but the symbols/types in the old is fulfilled in Jesus in the new (Heb. 9:8-14). He is the lamb slain for us (Heb. 7:25, 8:5, 10:1).
THURSDAY: The book of Hebrews provide a vivid account of the new covenant with clarity through the priesthood of Christ (Heb. 10:4). The types & symbols of the old covenant could not save in & of themselves but pointed to Christ. In the new, through the priestly work of Christ in heaven, we’re saved. His blood made the sacrificial blood of animals in the covenant at Sinai “old” (Matt. 27:51, Heb. 8:1-5, 9:12).
FRIDAY: The new covenant was made during the Lord’s supper. The blood of Christ is the blood of the new covenant. The blood of Christ was actually shed upon the cross the next day. By this covenant, all the blessings of heaven was poured upon those who enter in it. Notably, the covenant offered pardoning mercy to every sinner who repents. God is merciful as He is just (Heb. 8:12). Obey & receive pardon.
—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 659 & God’s Amazing Grace, p. 138.
Faulty Covenant/Promise: The old covenant was faulty not in itself but with the response of the people (Israelites) to it. They pledged to obey (“all that you’ve said we’ll do”) & broke it afterwards relieving God from the conditions of the covenant. It was faulty because it was based on faulty promises.
SUNDAY- “Behold, The Days Are Coming . . .”
MONDAY- Heart Work
TUESDAY- Old And New Covenants
WEDNESDAY- “A Better Covenant” (Heb. 8:6)
THURSDAY- The New Covenant Priest
📌 What is the advantage of having the law written in the heart rather than on tablets of stone alone? Which is easier to forget, the law written on stones or the law written in the heart?
📌 Ever since the fall of humanity, salvation has been found only through Jesus, even if the revelation of that truth varied in different epochs of history. Do not the covenants work the same way?
📌 Look at the second Ellen G. White quote in today’s study. What does she mean by “perfect obedience” as the requirement for a covenant relationship? Who is the only One who has rendered “perfect obedience”? How does that obedience answer the demands of the law for us?
Entire Lesson Summary
The new covenant is a greater, more complete, and better revelation of the plan of redemption. We who partake of it partake of it by faith, a faith that will manifest itself in obedience to a law written in our hearts.