The New Covenant

by Joseph Hunting

There is a beautiful progression in the eight covenants which God has made with mankind. Paradoxically, the eighth is not only the last, but at the same time it is also the New Covenant.

The promise of a new covenant was made when Israel and Judah had sinned against God until there was nothing further that He could do to restore their fellowship with Him.

Centuries before Israel had told Moses, "All that the Lord hath said, that will we do," and God had responded with promises of blessings that would be heaped upon them because of their obedience to Him. They would be blessed in every walk of life, in the cities, in the fields, in their homes, their barns, cattle, and indeed, in everything they would put their hand to. There would be no sickness, they would prosper and be wealthy. "The Lord shall open unto you His good treasure . . . And the Lord shall make you the head and not the tail, and you shall be above only . . . (Deuteronomy 28:12-13)

At the same time Moses warned Israel that "it shall come to pass if you will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you." The following 50 verses of Deuteronomy 28 outline the spine-chilling curses that comprise the most solemn warning in all Scripture.

Over the centuries Israel lapsed into a life of self-will and disobedience until the northern kingdom was uprooted and began the long dispersion that has spanned more than 2,500 years. The tribe of Judah followed the other tribes into dispersion about 150 years later and it was at that time, when the covenant which God had made with them on Mt Sinai was in tatters, that "the Lord God of their fathers sent unto them messengers, rising up betimes and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, TILL THERE WAS NO REMEDY." (2nd Chronicles 36:15-16)

The Law made at Mt Sinai was utterly abandoned by Israel. The covenant was shattered and there was nothing more that God could do to restore His people. Every plea had been rejected "until there was no remedy."

It was in this desperate situation when humanly speaking we would give up trying any further, God had a plan that could not fail to accomplish His purpose in bringing about the ultimate restoration of His covenant people. This plan was in no way associated with the previous covenant which had been so abused. Indeed, there was not to be the remotest connection between the two covenants. Furthermore, the Sinaitic Covenant was conditional upon Israel's obedience to "obey all that the Lord hath said," whereas the New Covenant was to be unconditional because it was to depend totally upon God and His faithfulness. So breathtaking is this covenant in its all embracing terms we quote it in full.

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

"Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God and they shall be my people.

"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.

"Thus saith the Lord which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is His name:

"If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me for ever.

"Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 31:31-37)

The following observations are worthy of our attention.

  1. God did not abandon Israel and Judah even though there was "no remedy" under the terms of the old covenant. The New Covenant still is to be made "with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah."
  2. The New Covenant is "NOT ACCORDING" to the terms of the Sinaitic covenant. Man could not keep the Law by being obedient to God, so God promised to change man's character by giving him a new heart and a new spirit. "I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS."
  3. The New Covenant was to be introduced at some future date which was unspecified, and it would be in two parts. This two-fold aspect is generally overlooked, but is nevertheless very important. Firstly, the covenant was promised for a certain time. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord that I will make a new covenant . . . " The second part would take effect "after those days" when God would put His law in their inward parts. Note how all-embracing is the final effect of the covenant. "They shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." As Habakkuk prophesied, "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14) The knowledge of the glory of God will reach saturation point when the terms of the New Covenant take effect.
  4. Just as long as the sun gives its light by day, and the stars and the moon by night, so long has God guaranteed Israel to be a nation before Him. And just as it is impossible to measure the vast expanse of the universe, so it is impossible for God to cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done. This breathtaking truth is also confirmed in the New Testament: "Hath God cast away His people? God forbid . . . God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew." (Romans 11:1-2ff)


Some five hundred years after the covenant was first promised a small group of men met in Jerusalem. It was the 14th of Nisan, and according to the commandment of Moses they partook of the Passover at even. In the main they were a rugged and strange group of men who arranged themselves in a reclining position round the low Seder table. Some were fishermen from Galilee, one was a hated tax-collector and another was a zealot who no doubt would be a prominent protester in our modern society.

In the Scriptures ordinary numbers also have extraordinary significance. The number eight is one such. Just as seven speaks of completeness, so eight points to a new beginning. There are eight recorded observances of the Passover in all Scripture. Seven are recorded in Tenach, the Old Testament, thus signifying its completion under the terms of the Old Covenant. The eighth and last recorded observance of the Passover is the one which we are now considering. Similarly, the eighth and last covenant is called the New Covenant. Both blend into one on that particular Passover observed some nineteen centuries ago.


Shecket! Quiet please! The leader of the group is speaking. There is something arresting about His manner and the words that fall from His lips are among the most important ever uttered. "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I say unto you I will not eat any more thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And He took the cup and gave thanks, and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

"And He took bread and gave thanks, and brake it and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, THIS CUP IS THE NEW COVENANT IN MY BLOOD WHICH IS SHED FOR YOU." (Luke 22:15-20)

As the 14th of Nisan drew to a close and the Passover lambs were being offered in the Temple, the Lamb of God shed His blood outside the city walls. He hung on a Roman cross bearing the curse of sin for the whole of mankind, as it is written, "Cursed is everyone that hangeth upon a tree," and "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up." (Deuteronomy 21:23, John3:14)

The eighth and last recorded Passover in Scripture was the climax of all Passover observances. On that day the eighth and last covenant, the most important of all God's covenants with man-kind coincided. The day spoken of by Jeremiah many centuries before had come to pass and the New Covenant was ratified.

Israel has nationally rejected that covenant for nineteen centuries, but there is yet to be the fulfilment of Jeremiah's prophecy: "After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people."