Genesis 48 - 50
Jacob Blesses Ephraim and ManassehGenesis 48:1 After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. 3 And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ 5 And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. 6 And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. 7 As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” 12 Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). 15 And he blessed Joseph and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying,
‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’ ”
Jacob Blesses His SonsGenesis 49:1 Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.
2 “Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel your father.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,
preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,
because you went up to your father’s bed;
then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;
weapons of violence are their swords.
6 Let my soul come not into their council;
O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
and scatter them in Israel.
8 “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.
13 “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;
he shall become a haven for ships,
and his border shall be at Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
crouching between the sheepfolds.
15 He saw that a resting place was good,
and that the land was pleasant,
so he bowed his shoulder to bear,
and became a servant at forced labor.
16 “Dan shall judge his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
a viper by the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that his rider falls backward.
18 I wait for your salvation, O LORD.
19 “Raiders shall raid Gad,
but he shall raid at their heels.
20 “Asher’s food shall be rich,
and he shall yield royal delicacies.
21 “Naphtali is a doe let loose
that bears beautiful fawns.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
a fruitful bough by a spring;
his branches run over the wall.
23 The archers bitterly attacked him,
shot at him, and harassed him severely,
24 yet his bow remained unmoved;
his arms were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 by the God of your father who will help you,
by the Almighty who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that crouches beneath,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents,
up to the bounties of the everlasting hills.
May they be on the head of Joseph,
and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
in the morning devouring the prey
and at evening dividing the spoil.”
Jacob’s Death and Burial28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him. 29 Then he commanded them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah— 32 the field and the cave that is in it were bought from the Hittites.” 33 When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
Genesis 50Genesis 50:1 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.
4 And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’ ” 6 And Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear.” 7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days. 11 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 12 Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.
God’s Good Purposes15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The Death of Joseph22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own. 24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
What Does “Gospel” Really Mean?
By J. Warner Wallace 1/15/2018
We often describe God’s gracious offer of Salvation as “good news”, and while this makes sense, given the magnitude of God’s gift to us, there are actually good etymological reasons for describing Salvation in this way. The word “Gospel” is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, “godspel”, or “good story” and was substituted for the original Greek word “euaggelion” which first signified “a present given to one who brought good tidings”, or “a sacrifice offered in thanksgiving for such good tidings having come”. In later Greek uses, it was employed for the good tidings themselves. That’s exactly what God is offering us with the Gospel; “good news” about what he did for us through Jesus Christ:
The Gospel is All About What God Did For Us
God wants us to rejoice over the good news of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Although our sin deserves death, Jesus paid the price and even defeated death so we too can live forever with God:
(1 Co 15:1–4) 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, ESV
The Gospel is All About Grace
Paul devoted his life to sharing what he believed to be very “good news”. He thought it was good news because he understood God was giving us a free gift only He could offer: the gift of Salvation, given freely as an act of grace (unmerited favor):
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
What Pro-Lifers Can and CAN’T Learn from the Civil Rights Movement
By Jason Jones & John Zmirak 1/15/2018
Today we mark the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. He’s not just some ethnic hero, but a true American one. He is even, in critical ways, a conservative paragon. We’ll lay out why, and draw out what the pro-life movement can — and cannot — learn from King’s success.
King a “conservative”? It seems absurd at first. King sparked massive change in American life. He radically unsettled the existing social order. He rejected calls for “prudence” and “gradual change.” He pointed to abstract principles to condemn concrete arrangements which had seemed to “work,” after a fashion, for 100 years since the Civil War.
His Civil Rights movement, however just its cause, did create a template for a long list of less worthy jihads, on behalf of disgruntled feminists, abortion mongers, and same-sex libertines. On that point, Southern conservatives proved sadly correct: overturning the racial hierarchy in America let a lot of other genies out of the bottle. Some of those spirits are afflicting the black community worse than segregation ever did (i.e., abortion).
No surprise that when King was organizing marches and sit-ins, most of the existing conservative movement opposed him. William F. Buckley and most of the writers at National Review were among them. But Buckley and NR came around as did most Americans. Here’s why:
More than almost any other political leader since Lincoln, King sought to polish the Golden Egg of liberty and equal opportunity, without doing violence to the Goose — that is, America as an orderly nation of laws. Both his arguments and his tactics bear that out.
Per Amazon, John Zmirak received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan. He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at "Success" magazine and "Investor's Business Daily," among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in "First Things," "The Weekly Standard," "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "USA Today," "FrontPage Magazine," "The American Conservative," "The South Carolina Review," "The Atlantic," "Modern Age," "The Intercollegiate Review," "The New Republic," "Commonweal," and "The National Catholic Register," among other venues. He has contributed to "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" and "The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought." From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of "Faith & Family Magazine" and a reporter at "The National Catholic Register." He works now as an editor for several publishing companies.
John Zmirak Books:
- 1 The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins: A Vital Look at Virtue and Vice, With Quizzes and Activities for Saintly Self-Improvement (Bad Catholic's guides)
- 2 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
- 3 The Grand Inquisitor (Crossroad Book)
- 4 The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism: A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines (Bad Catholic's guides)
- 5 The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom, and a Culture Of Life
- 6 The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feasts and Fun
- 7 Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist (Library of Modern Thinkers)
- 8 Choosing the Right College 2014-15: The Inside Scoop on Elite Schools and Outstanding Lesser-Known Institutions
- 9 The World Is On Fire: A Whole Life Reader
- 10 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
- 11 The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from the Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Bad Catholic's guides)
- 12 All-American Colleges: Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned Liberals, and People of Faith
- 13 Dollfuss: An Austrian Patriot
- 14 Wilhelm RFopke : Swiss localist, global economist
Writing: If You Want To Remember It, Write It By Hand
By Timothy Paul Jones 1/7/2018
Words and writing matter.
In the opening chapter of the Scriptures, God speaks, and a cosmos bursts into being (Genesis 1:3). When he constitutes Israel as his people, God speaks and writes, and a covenant is born (Exodus 31:18). John described the incarnation of God in Christ by declaring, “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). It is by words that our souls live, and it is because of words that souls die (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 12:36-37). In the words of George Will,
"Everything humane depends on words—love, promise-keeping, story-telling, democracy. And baseball.
From an eternal perspective, what’s important is not the format of these words but the meaning that the words convey. When it comes to our capacity to recall the words we hear and read, however, the way that we write them down has a profound effect on how much information we recall.
My Journey from Paper to Pixels and Back to Paper Again | Throughout high school, college, and my first seminary degree, I kept handwritten journals, and every note I took in classes was penned by hand. In a box in the basement, I still have dozens of spiral-bound notebooks from those years.
My name is Timothy Paul Jones, and I love living with my wife and four daughters in the city of Louisville. Over the past two decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading several congregations as a pastor and in associate ministry roles. Now, I serve as a professor and associate vice president at one of the largest seminaries in the world, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here, I invest my time in mentoring a rising generation of God-called ministers of the gospel. I also serve as a pastor at the Midtown congregation of Sojourn Community Church and write books in the fields of apologetics and family ministry. A few of these books include the award-winning How We Got the Bible and Christian History Made Easy. My past scholarly research has focused on the psychology of faith and on factors that influence faith formation in Christian households. Currently, my focus has turned toward the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. In addition to earning a doctor of philosophy degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature and a master of divinity with an emphasis in church history and New Testament studies.
Timothy Paul Jones Books:
- 1 How We Got the Bible
- 2 Christian Formation: Integrating Theology and Human Development
- 3 Family Ministry Field Guide: How Your Church Can Equip Parents to Make Disciples
- 4 Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views
- 5 Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective
- 6 How We Got the Bible Participant Guide
- 7 Four Views of the End Times pamphlet: Views on Jesus' Second Coming
- 8 PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
- 9 Finding God in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: A Spiritual Exploration of the Star Wars Saga
- 10 Perspectives on Your Child's Education: Four Views
- 11 Christian History Made Easy Participant guide for the 12-session DVD-based study
- 12 Praying Like the Jew, Jesus: Recovering the Ancient Roots of New Testament Prayer
- 13 Teaching the World: Foundations for Online Theological Education
NT Chronological Order
No. | Book | Date Written (A.D.) |
1 | Galatians | 49 |
2 | James | 49 |
3 | 1 Thessalonians | 50 - 51 |
4 | 2 Thessalonians | 50 - 51 |
5 | 1 Corinthians | 54 |
6 | 2 Corinthians | 55 |
7 | Romans | 55 |
8 | Mark | 57 - 59 |
9 | Luke | 60 |
10 | Ephesians | 60 |
11 | Colossians | 60 |
12 | Philemon | 60 |
13 | Acts | 61 |
14 | Philippians | 61 |
15 | 1 Timothy | 62 |
16 | Titus | 62 |
17 | 2 Timothy | 63 |
18 | 1 Peter | 63 |
19 | 2 Peter | 63 - 64 |
20 | Matthew | 60's |
21 | Hebrews | 60's |
22 | Jude | 60's or 70's |
23 | John | Late 80's |
24 | 1 John | late 80's - early 90's |
25 | 2 John | late 80's - early 90's |
26 | 3 John | late 80's - early 90's |
27 | Revelation | late 80's - early 90's |
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 9I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds
9 To The Choirmaster: According To Muth-Labben. A Psalm Of David.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Saint Patrick's BreastplateThe prayer in Modern English translation. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, smiths, and wizards,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
Lower Criticism of the Old Testament
By Gleason Archer Jr.
2. Dittography—the writing twice of that which should have been written but once. For example, in Isa. 30:30, HŠMY˓ HŠ MY˓ (“cause to be heard cause to be heard”) instead of the MT’s simple HŠMY˓ (“cause to be heard”). Again, in Ezek. 48:16 the MT reads, ḤMŠ, HMŠ MʾWT (“five five hundred”) instead of the proper ḤMŠMʾWT (“five hundred”).
3. Metathesis—reversing the proper position of letters or words. For example, Isa. 32:19 HY˓R (“the forest”) instead of the MT’s H˓YR (“the city”)—which alone makes good sense in the context. Again, in Ezek. 42:16 the MT consonantal text has ḤMŠ˓MWT QNYM (“five cubits reeds”) instead of the obvious ḤMŠ MʾWT QNYM (“five hundred reeds”)—the proper correction having been indicated by the Masoretes in their apparatus (see under “Masoretes,” pp. 67–68).
4. Fusion—the combining of two separate words into one. Wurthwein cites Amos 6:12 where BBQRYM (“with oxen”) probably stands for an original BBQR YM (“With oxen the sea”—i.e., “Shall one plough the sea with oxen?”). Rypins cites Isa. 3:15 MLKM (according to the consonantal text of the MT), which would mean “their king”; but what the context calls for (and what the Masoretes amend to) is MH LKM (“What is the matter with you?”). In this connection note that Jerome, following the interpretation of the LXX, understood the term L˓ZʾZL (for Azazel) in Lev. 16:8 as a case of fusion for L˓Z˓ZL (“for a goat of sending away”—which certainly makes excellent sense in the context, and does away with a bothersome proper name, Azazel, otherwise unknown in pre-Christian times).
5. Fission—the dividing up of a single word into two words. For example, in Isa. 2:20, the MT’s LḤPR PRWT (“to a hole of rats”) should be amended to the scroll’s LḤPRPRYM (“to the shrew-mice”), as the LXX shows (which simply transcribed the word as pharpharōth, without attempting to translate it). Rypins cites the MT’s KY DRKYK (“because thy ways”) in Ezek. 7:4, arguing that it originally read KDRKYK (“according to thy ways”). Yet this last emendation lacks any strong support.
6. Homophony—the substitution of one homonym for another. For example, frequently we find LW (“to him”) subsituted for Lʾ (“not”). Thus in Isa. 9:3, both the MT and the scroll, read, HRBYT HGWY Lʾ HGDLT HŚMḤH (“Thou hast multiplied the people; thou hast not multiplied the joy”), where far better sense is obtained from HRBYT HGWY LW HGDLT HSMḤH (“Thou hast increased the people, thou hast increased the joy for him”). The confusion arose from the fact that both Lʾ (“not”) and LW (“for him”) were pronounced lō. The second reading is the one endorsed by the qerê.
7. Misreading of similar appearing letters. From 600 B.C. onward, D (daleth) and R (rēsh) resembled each other closely enough so that they were often confused, especially in proper names. Thus the “Dodanim” of Gen. 10:4 appears as “Rodanim” in 1 Chron. 1:7 —which is thought by many to be the better reading, since it probably refers to the Rhodians. Again, W (waw) and Y (yodh) were written very similarly from 150 B.C. and onward, and even in the Isaiah Scroll they are often difficult to distinguish. Where the MT reads WD˓W (“and know ye”) the scroll has YD˓W (“let them know”) in Isa. 33:13. One interesting example of this occurs in Acts 7:43, which quotes the LXX spelling of Raiphan as the name of the idol, whereas the MT of Amos 5:26 (from which this was quoted) spells it Chiun. How could this confusion have arisen? In mere consonants Chiun appears as KYWN; Raiphan would be RYPN. However the fifth century B.C., as the Elephantine Papyri testify, the shape of K (ע) was very similar to R (ר), and W (ו) greatly resembled P (פ). In that period, then, a copy of Amos would have presented a name which could be read either as KYWN or as RYPN. (From the Akkadian Kaiwanu, the name of the god who presided over the planet Saturn, we gather that the MT has preserved the more original spelling in this case.) As for Stephen (whose speech is reported in Acts 7), the verse he quoted is recorded by Luke in the LXX version, which was the only form of the Old Testament accessible to his Greek-speaking readers.
8. Homoeoteleuton—the omission of an intervening passage because the copyist’s eye had skipped from one ending to a second similar ending. Homoeoteleuton is Greek for “similar ending.” An example of this in the scroll is found in Isa. 4:5 (all the words omitted being contained between the parentheses): WBRʾ YHWH … ˓NN (YWMM WʾŠN WNGHʾ LHBH LYLH KY ˓L KL KBWD ḤPH WSKH THYH LṢL) YWMM MḤRB.2 From this it will be observed that the eye of the scribe skipped from the first (“by day”) to the second resulting in the loss of thirteen words in between (cf. Ps. 145:13b) from the LXX.
9. Homoeoarkton—In 1 Sam. 14:41 the LXX has two occurrences of “O Lord God of Israel,” with twenty-five words between them. The MT lacks all of these words and has only one “O Lord God of Israel.” The only fair conclusion is that the MT dropped these words by homoeoteleuton (or homoeoarkton—similar beginning), rather than that the LXX inserted all these extra words from some unknown source. (Cf. Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica, 12 ed., p. 426.)
10. Accidental omission of words in situations where no repetition is involved. One celebrated instance is 1 Sam. 13:1, where the MT reads, “Saul was … year(s) old when he began to reign.” Unfortunately textual criticism does not help us, for both the LXX and the other versions have no numeral here. Apparently the correct number fell out so early in the history of the transmission of this particular text that it was already lost before the third century B.C.
11. Misreading vowel letters as consonants. The Hebrew letters ʾ (ʾaleph), H (he), W (waw), and Y (yodh) were true consonants only, in the earlier stages of Hebrew writing. But gradually they came to be used to indicate the presence of certain vowels, and when so used, the ʾ, H, W, or Y was not to be pronounced at all, but was simply a mater lectionis (indicating a pure-long vowel). In the Maccabean period we find that the use of these vowel letters greatly expanded, probably because the correct pronunciation of Hebrew was becoming uncertain to a people who were by now using Aramaic for all ordinary purposes. Most of the earlier Qumran MSS show this proliferation of matres lectionis. In the first century B.C. the Sopherim (see section on “Sopherim” in this chapter) reverted to the less encumbered spelling of the older period, and largely restricted the vowel letters to indicate “pure-long” vowels only (rather than “tone-long” or short vowels, as the second century B.C. scrolls often did). But occasionally some of the superfluous matres lectionis were preserved in cases where, if understood as true consonants, they made a substantial difference in meaning. An instance in point, according to Wurthwein, is Amos 2:7 where the MT’s HŠPYM (haššōʾapɩ̂m (“who trample upon”) has replaced the original HŠPYM, haššāʾapɩ̂m (from the verb šûp, “crush”).
12. Variants based on the vowel points only. It should be understood that the vowel points were not inserted by the Masoretes to make the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible accurate by providing vowel sounds until after A.D. 600. In most cases we can assume that the oral tradition which was followed by the Masoretic scribes is correct unless there are strong indications in the context that suggest they were in error. One interesting example of this has to do with Ps. 2:9 where we have consonants that could indicate the verb “to shepherd” or the verb “to smash” depending on how we vowel them; i.e., terō˓ēm from rā˓a˓ (“smash”) seems to be confirmed by the second half of the verse: “You will dash them to pieces like pottery.” On the other hand, the LXX reads poimaneis (“You will rule”), implying the vowel pointing tir˓ēm from rā˓ah. This is confirmed by the word for “rod”, which is šēbet, the regular word for the scepter of a king. It is highly significant that this verse is quoted in Rev. 2:27: “He will rule (or “pasture”) them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Other interesting examples may be found in Isa. 9:6, Mic. 5:1, Ps. 22:9, and Ps. 19:2. A discussion of these may be found in EBD, pp. 41–42.
What Is The Relationship Of The Church To The New Covenant?
By Andy Woods
Exposition of the New Covenant and its relationship to the church has traditionally proven to be a “sore spot” for dispensational interpreters. Because dispensationalism has all too frequently emphasized Scripture’s discontinuity at the expense of its continuity, dispensationalists have often had difficulty explaining the New Testament verses that seemingly apply Israel’s New Covenant to the church age. This paper will attempt to demonstrate how the New Covenant relates to the church in a way that maintains the continuity as well as the discontinuity between God’s programs for Israel and the church. In pursuance of this end, the following three areas will be explored: the Old Testament’s presentation of the New Covenant, what the New Testament presents regarding the New Covenant’s ratification and relation to the church, and inadequate views some interpreters have offered concerning how the New Covenant relates to the church.
THE OLD TESTAMENT’S PRESENTATION OF THE NEW COVENANT | HOW THE NEW COVENANT RELATES TO GOD’S COVENANT PROGRAM
In order to understand the Old Testament presentation of the New Covenant, it is first necessary to understand how the New Covenant is related to God’s over all covenant program.1 The origins of God’s covenant program can be traced back to the Abrahamic Covenant. The first reference to this contract is found in the Abrahamic promises of Genesis 12:1-3. These promises were subsequently referred to and amplified throughout Genesis ( Gen 13:14-17; 17:1-8 ). The Abrahamic promises were codified into covenant form in Genesis 15.
Essentially, God in the Abrahamic Covenant promised three items to Abraham’s physical descendants. These items include land ( Gen 12:7; 13:14-15, 17; 17:8 ), seed ( Gen 12:2; 13:16; 15:4-5; 15:18; 17:4-6 ), and blessing ( Gen 12:3; 17:2, 6; 18:18 ). In addition to its promises, dispensational interpreters have noticed the Abrahamic Covenant’s general features. These features include the covenant’s eternality ( Gen 13:15; 17:7-8, 13, 19 ), unconditionality ( Gen 15:9-12; 17-18 ), and literalness. Moreover, dispensationalists have observed that the specific promises of the Abrahamic Covenant are further developed throughout the Old Testament as God entered into further covenants with His people. For example, the land promise is further amplified through the land covenant of Deuteronomy 30:1-10. The seed promise is further amplified in the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7:14-16. The blessing promise is further amplified in the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Thus, the Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation of God’s further covenant promises.
Therefore, the New Covenant should not be understood in isolation of God’s other covenant activity. Rather, it should be viewed as the natural out working of the Abrahamic Covenant. C.E. Piepgrass explains:
The New Covenant expands the promise to Abraham of blessing to “all the families of the earth.” Here is revealed the means by which man can have his sins forgiven in order to enjoy eternal fellowship with God.2
Because of the New Covenant’s intimate relation with the Abrahamic Covenant, both covenants share several common features. Therefore, just as the Abrahamic Covenant is literal, unconditional, and eternal, the New Covenant also possesses these attributes because of the fact that it is an extension of God’s covenant with Abraham. For example, its eternality can be seen in how other Old Testament contexts refer to it as an “everlasting covenant” ( Isa 24:5; 55:3; 61:8-9; Jer 32:40; 50:5; Ezek 16:60; 37:26 ). Moreover, its uconditionality can be seen not only in the absence of any stated conditions, but also from Ezekiel 36:21-23. In this passage, God declared that He would bring the covenant to pass not because of any merit on the part of Israel but rather to vindicate His holy name.3
THE NEW COVENANT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Jeremiah 31:31-34 is the only Old Testament passage that actually uses the designation “New Covenant.” This passage says:
Jeremiah 31:31 “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- 32 “not according to the covenant 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. 33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: 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. 34 “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”4
In these verses, God announced the future New Covenant that He would make with Israel. It is important to realize that the New Covenant was only announced at this stage. Its ratification and inauguration still awaited a future day. Although this announcement allowed Israel to look forward to the New Covenant, Israel did not yet enjoy its provisions and thus still continued to live under the Mosaic Covenant.
Pentecost explains the divine purpose intended in the New Covenant:
…to the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant were added conditional blessings. Before the covenant nation could enjoy the covenanted blessings it must walk in obedience to the laws of God. The obedience was outlined for the nation in the Mosaic Law, which was given alongside the Abrahamic Covenant ( Gen 17:19 ) to define what God expected as a prerequisite for blessing…the nation was unable to fulfill the obedience solely on the energy of the flesh ( Rom 8:3 ). Further, the nation was characterized by God as being stiff-necked ( Jer 17:23 ), and hardened and obstinate ( Ezek 3:7 ). If the nation was to experience the blessings of the [Abrahamic] Covenant they would need forgiveness of sins, a new heart characterized by obedience, and empowerment from outside themselves.5
Dyer offers a similar explanation:
As part of the New Covenant God promised to “put my law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” ( Jer 31:33 ). The law would not exist on tablets of stone. It would be internalized. God’s New Covenant would give Israel the inner ability to obey His righteous standards and thus to enjoy His blessings. Ezekiel indicated that this change would result from God’s bestowal of the Holy Spirit on these believers (cf. Ezekiel 36:24-32 ). In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit did not universally indwell all believers. Thus one different aspect of the New Covenant is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers (cf. Joel 2:28-32 ).6
Because the New Covenant would internally empower Israel to experience a new level of spiritual life beyond what they were presently experiencing under the Mosaic Covenant, the implication of Jeremiah 31:31-34 is that the New Covenant was destined to replace the Mosaic Covenant. This implication, however, would not be made explicit until the writing of the New Testament ( Hebrews 8:6-13 ).
Jeremiah 31:31 explicitly identifies the parties to the New Covenant when it says, “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.” Thus, the parties involved in the covenant are “the Lord” and “Israel.” Other important passages such as Ezekiel 36:22-38 (see v. 22 ) and 37:15-28 (see v. 21 ) also verify that these are the two parties involved.7 This same theme is reiterated in Jeremiah 33 when it says, “they will be my people” (singular). The New Covenant is not promised to any other group or nation.8 Peters explains:
It is given to “the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” which, as all commentators admit (however they may afterward spiritualize), in its literal aspect denotes the Jewish people. It is the same people, too, that were “scattered,” “plucked up,” “destroyed,” and “afflicted,” who shall be restored to their “land” and “cities.”9
The immediate context surrounding the announcement of the New Covenant also provides ample evidence that the covenant was given only to Israel. For example, the terms “Israel” and “Judah” clearly refer to the literal Northern and Southern kingdoms. Earlier in Jeremiah 31, God announced the restoration of Israel. The restored people would live “on the hills of Samaria” ( 31:5 ) and “on the hills of Ephraim” ( 31:6 ). God then declared that “Judah and all its cities will dwell together” ( 31:24 ). Having announced the restoration of both nations separately, God joined the two together by the phrase “the house of Israel and the house of Judah” ( 31:27 ). When this identical phrase is used in Jeremiah 31:31, this larger context indicates that it is referring to the literal, physical nations of Israel and Judah. Moreover, the New Covenant is said to be replacing the earlier covenant “which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” ( Jer 31:32 ). This is a clear reference to the Mosaic Covenant that was made with the nation of Israel. Thus, if the old covenant was made with Israel, then the clear implication is that the covenant that is replacing it was also made with Israel.10 In sum, according to the Old Testament, the only parties to the New Covenant are God and Israel.
Not only are the parties expressly specified in the terms of the New Covenant, but the provisions of the New Covenant are enumerated as well. Jeremiah 31:31-34 delineates these provisions as the internalization of God’s law (v. 33 ), sole devotion to God (v. 33 ), universal knowledge of God (v. 34 ), and forgiveness of sin and iniquity (v. 34 ). In addition, the context continues through the end of chapter 31 where two more provisions are added. These include Israel’s perpetual national existence (vv. 35-37 ) and the provision that Jerusalem is to be permanently rebuilt (vv. 38-40 ).11
Although Jeremiah 31:31 represents the only instance where the title “New Covenant” is actually used, one should not get the mistaken notion that this is the only Old Testament passage that speaks of the New Covenant. Scholars have noted other portions of the Old Testament where similar titles and provisions are mentioned. For example, “everlasting covenant” is used in Isaiah 24:5; 61:8-9; Jeremiah 23:40; 50:5; Ezekiel 16:60; 27:26. The phrase “new heart” or a “new spirit” is used in Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26. The term “covenant of peace” is mentioned in Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 34:25; 37:26. The expression “a covenant” or “my covenant” which is placed “in that day” is employed in Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; 59:21; Hosea 2:18-20.12
Taken as a whole, the two Old Testament passages that appear to devote the most attention to the New Covenant are Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-38. The Ezekiel passage delineates the following provisions of the New Covenant: national regathering to the land (vv. 24, 28 ), cleansing of sin (vv. 25, 29, 33 ), spiritual regeneration (v. 26 ), indwelling of the spirit (v. 27 ), fertility of the land (vv. 29-30, 24-25 ), national repentance (vv. 31-32 ), and physical fertility (vv. 37-38 ).13 By utilizing Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 as well as some of the surrounding context of these verses, Showers sums up the provisions of the New Covenant as follows:
First, He promised regeneration…( Jer. 31:33; 32:39-40; Ezek. 36:26 ) …Second, God promised forgiveness of sin ( Jer. 31:34; Ezek. 36:25 ). Third, He pledged the indwelling of the Holy Spirit ( Ezek. 36:27 ). Fourth, He guaranteed a universal knowledge of Jehovah among the people of Israel ( Jer. 31:34 ). The context of this fourth promise indicated that God was referring to the personal experiential knowledge of Himself (this kind of knowledge which comes through a genuine salvation experience), not just a head knowledge of His existence. Fifth, God promises that Israel would obey Him and have a right attitude toward Him forever ( Jer. 32:39-40; Ezek 36:27; 37:23-34 ). Sixth, God promised many national blessings to the people of Israel (i.e. Jer 31:35-37, 38-40; Ezek. 36:24, 28, 20-32, 34-35 ).14
Because these provisions have never been fulfilled in Israel’s past and certainly are not being currently fulfilled within the nation, their fulfillment awaits the future kingdom age. After providing a similar enumeration of the provisions of the New Covenant, Toussaint notes, “It can be seen that these elements of the new covenant pertain to Israel in the kingdom age.”15
As mentioned earlier, Jeremiah 31:31-34 only announces the New Covenant but leaves open the question as to when the New Covenant will be ratified. In fact, the entire Old Testament is ambiguous and inconclusive concerning when the New Covenant would be ratified. According to Decker, six Old Testament verses refer to the ratification of the New Covenant ( Isa 55:3; 61:8; Jer 31:31; 32:40; Ezek 34:25; 37:26 ). The verses all refer to “making” ( tyir.B, “to cut”) a covenant. Yet, all of these verses are ambiguous concerning when the New Covenant would be ratified. For example, Isaiah 55:3, Jeremiah 31:31, and Ezekiel 37:26 make only general indefinite references to the future. Ezekiel 34:25 allows for the conclusion that the covenant must be ratified before the millennial reign of Christ. Although Isaiah 61:8 refers to the millennial era, the preceding context ( Isa 61:1-2a ) was cited by Jesus as having found a fulfillment in His day ( Luke 4:16-21 ). Jeremiah 32:40 comes closest to fixing the ratification at the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign. The context argues that the covenant will be made at the time of the future restoration of the nation. However, even this does not demand that interpretation.16 Because of the Old Testament’s ambiguity on the subject, it leaves its readers with the necessity of awaiting New Testament revelation in order to receive more clarity and specificity concerning when the New Covenant would be ratified.
Relation to the Church The New Covenant’s ratification is not the only subject left open and ambiguous in the Old Testament’s presentation of the New Covenant. The New Covenant’s relation to the church is also not specifically addressed in the Old Testament. In other words, just as readers must turn to the pages of the New Testament in order to receive clarification concerning the timing of the New Covenant’s ratification, readers must also study the New Testament in order to understand how the New Covenant relates to the church. Although the Old Testament does depict blessing that would flow to the Gentiles upon the ratification of the New Covenant ( Isa 55:5; Ezekiel 36:36; 37:28 ), the relation between the church and the New Covenant is not specifically addressed. The reason for this conspicuous absence is that the church was a mystery in the Old Testament era ( Ephesians 3:1-13 ).17
After conducting an exhaustive word study on the word “mystery” (musterion) as used in Ephesians 3, Hoehner concludes:
The mystery mentioned in Ephesians was hidden in God in ages past ( 3:9 ). It was something that could not be understood by human ingenuity or study. God revealed it to the apostles and the prophets by the spirit ( 3:4 ). Now that it is revealed, it is open to everyone and it is simple to understand and thus not relegated to an intellectual minority. Ephesians views God’s sacred secret as believing Jews and Gentiles united into one body. In the OT Gentiles could be part of the company of God, but they had to become Jews in order to belong to it. In the NT Gentiles do not become Jews nor do Jews become Gentiles. Rather, both believing Jews and Gentiles become one new entity ( Eph 2:15-16 ). That is the mystery.18
Therefore, Showers correctly concludes:
The Old Testament said nothing concerning a relationship of the Church to the New Covenant. This silence should not come as a surprise… the Apostle Paul indicated that no relation concerning the Church was given before the time of the apostles and the New Testament prophets ( Eph 3:2-9 ). This means that the Old Testament contained no information concerning the church.19
It should be noted in passing that some progressive dispensationalists believe that the word “mystery” (musterion) connotes a different definition. They see “mystery” as referring to something unrealized rather than unrevealed. The practical import of such an understanding allows for prophecy of the church in the Old Testament.20 However, dispensationalists have not universally adopted this understanding.
THE NEW TESTAMENT’S PRESENTATION OF THE NEW COVENANT
The New Testament refers to the New Covenant in several places. These references include Luke 22:20 (and parallel references in Matthew 26:17-35 and Mark 14:12-31 ), 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 2 Corinthians 3:6-18, and Hebrews 7-10 and 12-13. Thus, one’s understanding of the New Covenant cannot stop with the Old Testament. These New Testament references must be considered as well. The contribution that each of these references makes towards further explaining the New Covenant will be the subject of this section.
The gospels mention the New Covenant in the context of the Upper Room Discourse ( Luke 22:20; Matt 26:17-35; Mark 14:12-31 ). Luke 22:20 says, “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Two important questions face interpreters of this verse. First, is Christ referring to the same New Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34? Second, is this verse speaking of the New Covenant’s ratification?
Regarding the first question, the evidence seems to favor viewing Christ’s statement as a reference to the same New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah. In commenting on the parallel New Covenant citation found in Matthew 26, Toussaint explains:
But this raises a question. To what covenant does Christ refer by these famous words? It seems that the King is looking back to the prophesied new covenant also known as the everlasting covenant and the covenant of peace ( Jeremiah 31:34; 32:37-40; Ezekiel 34:25-31; 37:26-28 ). This is what would immediately flash into the mind of the average Jew. In fact, it could refer to no other covenant since no other covenant was still unconfirmed. The remission of sin pointed out here is one of the tenets of the new covenant which indicates that Jeremiah’s prophesied covenant was the covenant under consideration in Matthew 26.21
Decker notes, “With no additional explanation, the disciples would naturally have assumed that this was the same New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31.” 22 Master observes, “With their Old Testament background the disciples would surely have viewed Jesus’ mention of the ‘new covenant’ in light of the Jeremiah text.”23 Pentecost24 and Kent25 have reached similar conclusions.
In sum, because He was drawing upon the disciples’ Jewish understanding of the Old Testament and offered no further clarification when He spoke of the New Covenant in the Upper Room Discourse, it is best to view Christ’s New Covenant language as pertaining to the same New Covenant identified in the Old Testament. By way of comparison, it is on the basis of this same reasoning that many dispensational interpreters have identified the reference to the “kingdom” in the preaching of John the Baptist ( Matt 3:2 ) and Christ ( Matt 4:17 ) as the Davidic Kingdom spoken of in the Old Testament. In other words, because Christ and John the Baptist were both drawing upon the Old Testament knowledge of their audiences and because neither offered further explanation concerning which kingdom they were speaking of, both preachers must have had the Davidic kingdom in mind.26 This same principle holds true with respect to Christ’s references to the New Covenant in the Upper Room Discourse.
Regarding the second question, these verses seem to indicate that the ratification of the New Covenant transpired when Christ died. Thus, while the New Covenant was announced in the Old Testament era, it was not officially inaugurated until Christ’s death. The word “ratification” has to do with the official implementation of the covenant or the time when its provisions and stipulations become legally binding. The covenants were typically enacted with a formal, blood ceremony indicating that the blood relationship is a blood bond.27 The technical term for such ratification in the Old Testament was tyir.B, which means “to cut” a covenant. This terminology is derived from a carcass cutting ceremony similar to that depicted in Genesis 15. 28 Thus, Decker defines ratification as:
…the ceremony at which the provisions and stipulations of the covenant become legally binding. Covenants (both biblical and ancient Near Eastern) were enacted on the basis of a formal oath, often accompanied by a blood ceremony, indicating that the sworn relationship is a bond in blood.29
The notion that Christ’s death ratified the New Covenant seems evident from several factors. First, in the upper room, Christ states that the cup of the Passover was the new covenant in His blood. In other words, the cup of the New Covenant was made on the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ.30 This is particularly evident in Matthew’s gospel where Matthew followed the statement about the New Covenant with the explanation that the “pouring out” was for the purpose of or “results in” (eijs) the forgiveness of sins.31 Second, there is a deliberate parallel between Christ’s words in Matthew 26:28 (“this is the blood of the covenant”) and Moses’ words at Sinai in Exodus 24:8 (“this is the blood of the covenant”).32 This second reference is to the inauguration of God’s covenant with Israel at Sinai.33 This parallel is designed to show that just as blood ratified the Mosaic Covenant, Christ’s blood ratified the New Covenant. Third, when Christ’s statements in the upper room are combined with the other New Testament references to the New Covenant, a convincing case is established for the ratification of the New Covenant through Christ’s death. Decker explains:
If one only had these references, he might simply conclude that the basis had been established for a future New Covenant. However, when these texts are combined with the portrait of Hebrews, such an explanation is inadequate.34
These other New Testament references to the New Covenant will be discussed later in this section.
By way of comparison, a gap of time transpired in between the announcing of the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12 and the official ratification of the covenant with the blood of animals as depicted in Genesis 15. Similarly, the New Covenant was announced in Jeremiah 31:31-34 but did not become operational until the shedding of Christ’s blood. Thus, Old Testament Israel did not enjoy the provisions of the New Covenant because its ratification awaited the blood of Christ.
The epistles mention the New Covenant in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 2 Corinthians 3:6-18, and Hebrews 7-10 and 12-13. Observing how these references apply the New Covenant to church age believers makes it difficult to argue against the proposition that the church shares in at least some of the blessings of the New Covenant.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
These verses say, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
These verses damage the theory that since the words of Christ in the upper room regarding the New Covenant were spoken before the advent of the church, they need not be remembered or practiced in the church. Several factors found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 make it difficult to argue that the New Covenant has no relation to the church.35 First, in these verses, Paul addresses abuses of the Lord’s Table taking place within the Corinthians congregation. Second, his words are obviously directed toward the church. Third, Paul is not just speaking to a Jewish audience but rather to a Jew and Gentile audience within the Corinthian congregation.
Fourth, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:25 are nearly identical to Christ’s words in the upper room regarding the New Covenant ( Luke 22:20 ). Thus, in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Paul instructs the church to regularly remember the New Covenant’s ratification through its consistent practice of the Lord’s Table.36 In other words, the Lord’s Table is to be a regular observance of the church in memory of the shedding of Christ’s blood as the New Covenant “cutting” ceremony. As explained by Decker, “the blood ceremony of the cross instituted [or ratified] the covenant, and Jesus’ words instituted the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates the covenant.”37 Thus, each time the church observes the ordinance of the Lord’s Table, it celebrates the New Covenant and the ratifying of it through Christ’s blood. Fifth, it would be odd for the church to have an ordinance that celebrates and remembers the cutting of the New Covenant if the church were not in some way benefiting from the New Covenant.
…who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech- 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
In verse 6, Paul indicates that he and his colleagues are ministers of a new covenant. Because Paul was a Pharisee with a thorough understanding of the Old Testament, it is not difficult to see how Paul was using Jeremiah’s contrast between the Old and New Covenants in these verses. For example, Jeremiah contrasted the external Mosaic Covenant with the internalization of God’s law offered by the New Covenant (Jer 31:33-34 ). Paul seems to make a similar comparison in 2 Corinthians 3 when he contrasts the Old Covenant as engraved on stones with the Holy Spirit’s work in the New Covenant era. This comparison becomes more apparent in 2 Corinthians 3:3 where Paul contrasts the tablets of stone with the tablets of the flesh that are of the heart. Thus, Paul must have had in mind Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36. Paul’s contrast in 2 Corinthians 3 can be none other than the New Covenant in contrast to the Old Covenant.38 As Kent explains, “Allowing Paul to define his own terms, the ‘new covenant’ (which his preaching of the gospel was promoting) was the same New Covenant which Jesus announced in the upper room and which his death secured for believers.”39
Some commentators have postulated that Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:6 is perhaps referring to himself and the other apostles. Decker notes:
The context seems to contrast the readers (“you”) with Paul. The plural “we” is typical of Pauline style and often refers to Paul himself. It should not unusually be viewed as an inclusive “we” (incorporating the readers), though it may at times refer to the apostles as a group.40
If Paul is referring to himself and the other apostles as ministers of a new covenant, then a stronger case can be made for the view that the church participates in some of the New Covenant’s blessings. Elsewhere, Paul depicts the apostles as the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20 ). If those who are the foundation of the church are ministers of the New Covenant, then surely the church as a whole participates in some facet of the New Covenant’s blessings.
The Book of Hebrews deals extensively with the church’s participation in the New Covenant. For example, in Hebrews 7, the author argues that the legal (Mosaic Law) and religious (Levitical priesthood) components of the Old Covenant were inadequate and therefore had to be replaced by something better.41 Thus, the author launches into a discussion of the Melchizedekian priesthood, which was superior to the Levitical priesthood. The author argues that since the Melchizedekian priesthood ushered in a superior priesthood, it follows that the whole legal system on which the Levitical institutions were predicated also had to be changed.42
Therefore, in place of the Mosaic system there would come a “better hope” (v. 19 ). Verse 22, identifies this “better hope” as a “better covenant.” The surrounding context indicates that this “better covenant” can be none other than the New Covenant. The further explanation provided in chapter 8 strongly argues that the “better covenant” must be the New Covenant. This becomes particularly apparent with the citation of the New Covenant prophecy found in Jer 31:31-34 in Hebrews 8:8-12. 43
In Hebrews 8:6-7, the author provides further explanation of the “better covenant.” He notes that this “better covenant” is founded upon better promises (v. 6 ). He also observes that the first covenant was obviously flawed or else there would be no need for a second covenant to take its place. In verses 8-12, the author leaves no doubt as to which covenant he had in mind through his quotation of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Such usage of the initial New Covenant announcement of Jeremiah 31:31-34 signals to the reader that the author has in mind the New Covenant when he refers to a “better covenant.” In verse 13, the author continues to contrast this “new covenant” with the previous obsolete covenant.44
The author’s use of the New Covenant in Hebrews 7 and 8 demonstrates the current operation of some of its blessings in the church. For example, Hebrews 8:6 seems to indicate that Christ’s mediatorship and priesthood are based on the New Covenant. Because both of these ministries are certainly in effect today, then it stands to reason that the New Covenant must also now be in effect in some sense.45
Hebrews 9 also provides ample evidence of the church’s participation in some of the blessings of the New Covenant.46 Hebrews 9:11 speaks of the “good things.” These “good things” are no doubt the privileges that believers experience as a result of the Savior’s death (vs. 12-14 ). As will be shown below, chapter 9 connects these “good things” with the New Covenant. What is important to recognize at this point is that these “good things” are described as a present reality for believers. Some versions use the phrase “the good things to come.” Such phraseology comes from the mellontwn, which is a present participle from the verb mellw. However, other versions use the phrase “the good things which are.” This phraseology comes from genomenwn, which is an aorist participle derived from the verb ginomai. The latter reading seems to be superior. It is the reading accepted by the UBS 4th edition. Moreover, Metzger favors the latter reading and assigns it a grade of a “B.”47 If this latter reading is the correct one, then “the good things” in verse 11 refer to the present spiritual benefits that believers experience as a result of Christ’s blood.
In verse 15, the author connects the present reality of “the good things” that came into existence with Christ’s death with Christ’s mediatorship of the New Covenant. The writer connects verses 11-14 with verse 15 with a dia touto clause. This clause establishes that verse 15 is the natural conclusion of verses 11-14. Verse 15 goes on to speak of Christ’s mediatorship of a new covenant. The new covenant language in verse 15 must be the same New Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31 because it is contrasted in the same sentence with the first covenant. Thus, verses 11-15 taken as a whole argue that “the good things” are a present reality in the lives of believers because Christ’s death made Him the mediator of the New Covenant. Therefore, these verses taken together form a strong argument that the church is presently experiencing some of the blessings of the New Covenant.
Hebrews 9:15 furnishes further evidence that Christ’s mediatorship of the New Covenant is an ongoing reality in the church age. For example, this verse uses the present tense of ejstin to indicate that Christ is mediator of a new covenant (diaqhkhs kainhs mesiths ejstin). It is difficult to argue that ejstin can be a futuristic present because verse 15 also indicates that the New Covenant is also the basis of a present redemption.48 Moreover, as in Hebrews 8:6, if Christ’s mediatorship is a present reality, then it must be concluded that New Covenant upon which such mediatorship is predicated is also a present reality.49
Hebrews 9 also has much to say regarding the New Covenant’s current ratification. For instance, according to Hebrews 9:17, the covenant takes effect upon the death of the testator. Because Christ as testator has died, then the New Covenant is obviously in effect. In addition, verses 18-22 indicate that the former covenant was ratified based on a blood ceremony. In fact, the words “this is the blood of the covenant” that are quoted in verse 20 are taken from Exodus 24:8 and refer to God’s inauguration of the Mosaic Covenant with Israel at Sinai. These words parallel Christ’s words in Matthew 26:28 ( “this is the blood of the covenant” ). The writer of Hebrews uses these express and implied references to the Mosaic Covenant and the Upper Room Discourse to show that just as blood ratified the Mosaic Covenant, Christ’s blood ratified the New Covenant. Thus, Hebrews 9:18-22 indicates that at least some of the New Covenant’s provisions are presently in operation.50
The line of argumentation presented in Hebrews 10 also employs notions of the New Covenant’s present ratification and effects.51 Here, the author argues that in the place of the temporary and repetitive nature of the Old Testament sacrifices (v. 1 ) that can never take away sin (v. 11 ), there is now the once and for all offering of the body of Christ (v. 12 ). This line of reasoning is then abruptly concluded by the citation of Jeremiah 31:33-34 in Hebrews 10:15-17. In verse, 15, the author attributes this citation to the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The quotation emphasizes indwelling (“I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them”) and forgiveness (“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”)
The author employs these quotations in order to communicate that the Old Covenant, which could never bring perfection and permanent forgiveness, was predicted as coming to an end based on the promise of the New Covenant, which offered permanent forgiveness. This permanent forgiveness came through Christ’s one offering. Hughes explains the impact of the New Covenant citation as having:
…the effect of clinching and bringing to its conclusion the long argument regarding the nature of Christ’s high priesthood and the perfection and finality of his atoning sacrifice, whereby the New Covenant is brought to its fulfillment.52
It is difficult to imagine that the author would refer to the New Covenant and to the forgiveness it provides if its blessings did not have immediate relevance to his audience. Thus, the writer does not refer to the New Covenant merely because it is similar in nature but rather because his readers had already experienced participation in its blessings. According to Ramm, if this covenant spoken of in Jeremiah only finds fulfillment in the millennial age, then the author of Hebrews is mistaken in applying it to the church.53 Compton similarly observes that, “The New Covenant is already described as enacted, and the readers of Hebrews are portrayed as participating in the forgiveness which it promises.”54 Toussaint adds, “This Jewish covenant is made the basis of the appeal which the writer of Hebrews makes to Christian experience in Hebrews 10:15-17. ”55 Thus, because of the forgiveness offered by the New Covenant, the writer exhorts believers to boldly enter the holy place ( 10:19 ).
In chapter 12, the writer to the Hebrews continues to speak of the current New Covenant blessings enjoyed by his readers. In verse 24, the author refers to “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” The big question here is whether Christ’s mediatorship is referring to a present or future function of the New Covenant. This question can only be answered by observing the over all context of the chapter. On the one hand, if the spiritual blessings depicted in chapter 12 are future realties for the believer, then it stands to reason that a future mediatorship of the New Covenant is in view. On the other hand, if these blessings are part of the believers’ present experience, then Christ is mediating a present function of the New Covenant. The general thrust of the passage depicts its enumerated spiritual realties as a present experience of believers.56
For example, verse 18, the author reminds his readers that “you have come” (proselhluqate) to Sinai. In verses 18-21, he uses the historical experience of Israel at Sinai to depict Israel’s experience under the Old Covenant. The same verb “you have come” (proselhluqate) is again used in verse 22 to indicate that his readers have now come to Mount Zion, which represents their coming to Jesus Christ. The blessings that believers have experienced as a result of their union with Christ are highlighted in verses 22-24. Thus, this paragraph depicting the believer’s present experience is juxtaposed against the previous paragraph depicting Israel’s Old Covenant experience.
The verb “you have come” (proselhluqate) that is used in verse 22 to describe his audience’s present spiritual experience employs the stative aspect of the perfect tense, which describes an existing state of affairs. Therefore, according to Bruce, the term “may denote their conversion to Christianity… The particular form used in this particular context carries with it overtones of conversion.”57 By using the perfect tense in verse 22, the author indicates that all of the spiritual realities that are enumerated in verses 22-24 are present realities for his audience. Though some have attempted to view these items as future realties, the perfect tense of proselhluqate makes such a view difficult to sustain. Although the prefect tense can refer to future time, such as in James 5:2-3, the over all context of Hebrews 12 makes such a view implausible.
Thus, the reference to the heavenly Jerusalem in verse 22 probably does not refer to the future arrival of believers in heaven or to the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21-22 but rather to the Christian’s present experience of salvation. According to Turner, the items in verses 22-25 describe realties of the spiritual realm to which believers have come.58 Also, Zion is probably used figuratively. According to Kent, “…Mount Zion symbolizes the final grace and blessing in salvation, the accomplished realities in contrast to types and shadows.”59
In addition, the author uses the perfect tense when referring to the spirits of the righteous men made perfect (v. 23 ). The verb “perfect” (teteleiomenon) is in the perfect tense. Kent explains the significance of this usage:
The spirits of the righteous men made perfect is a reference to Old Testament saints with whom we share salvation. They are called spirits because they have not yet been united with their bodies in resurrection. They are made perfect in their spirits, however, because Christ’s sacrifice for sins has actually accomplished the removal of their sins.60
In sum, “the entire tone of the passage with it’s contrast between the mountain that the Jews approached for the Mosaic Law, and the mountain we ‘have come to’ speaks of a present reality.”61 Thus, the over all context necessitates that Christ’s mediatorship of the New Covenant (v. 24 ) must refer to a present mediatorship.
If these descriptions describe the present realities of the believer’s position, then the context of the New Covenant mediatorship of Jesus in verse 24 would seem to be a present function of an inaugurated covenant rather than an eschatological role. “You have come,” the author of Hebrews wrote, in essence, “to Jesus, who is now mediating the New Covenant.”62
Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” In these verses, a benediction is provided that connects Christ’s death and the New Covenant (“the blood of the everlasting covenant”) with both His resurrection and present ministry to believers.63 Thus, to the extent that Christ’s present ministries of making believers “complete in every good work to do His will” and working in believers what is “well pleasing in His sight” are present realities, the New Covenant must also be a present reality. In sum, even through the benediction in the very last chapter of the book, the author of Hebrews continues to maintain that believers experience some present benefit from the New Covenant.
SUMMATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT’S PRESENTATION OF THE NEW COVENANT
As the previous discussion indicates, the New Covenant that was first announced in Jeremiah 31:31-34 was ratified when Christ died. Moreover, the epistles make it clear that the church participates in at least some of the New Covenant’s blessings. However, just because the church shares in some of the New Covenant’s blessings, it should not be concluded that the church is a party to the New Covenant. Decker is correct when he notes:
The partners of the New Covenant are, in biblical terms, God and Israel. This is quite clear in the Old Testament. Although participation of Gentiles may well be implied in the Old Testament, they do not participate as covenant partners. Even if it could be argued that additional partners might be added, the New Testament never explicitly adds the church as a covenant partner. It seems best to avoid expressing the church’s relationship to the covenant in terms of covenant partnership - the church is not a party with whom the New Covenant was made.64
Furthermore, while participating in some of the New Covenant’s blessings, the church does not take over all of the New Covenant’s blessings. This becomes obvious by observing some of the provisions of the New Covenant as enumerated in Ezekiel 36:28-30. These include predictions that Israel will dwell in the Promised Land in peace and prosperity. Only through the adoption of an allegorical method of interpretation is it possible to argue that the church is currently fulfilling these provisions. Dispensationalists believe that Israel will fulfill these provisions during the millennial age.
The epistles only go so far as to include the church in the soteriological blessings of the New Covenant thus leaving the political and geographical provisions for millennial Israel. Recent evangelical writers have appropriately expressed such a categorization of the New Covenant’s provisions. For example, according to Showers:
…although the church is partaking of the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant, the material and national provisions are not being fulfilled with the Church.65
Similarly, Ware explains:
Only the spiritual aspects of the new covenant promises are now inaugurated in this age; the territorial and political aspects, though part of God’s new covenant promise, await future fulfillment.66
Fruchtenbaum also expresses the proper balance:
Now Gentiles as Gentiles can by faith enjoy the spiritual blessings of the four unconditional covenants. This is why Gentiles today are partakers of Jewish spiritual blessings; they are not taker - overs… the blessing aspect amplified by the New Covenant was to include Gentiles. The Church is enjoying the spiritual blessings of these covenants, not the material and physical benefits. The physical promises still belong to Israel and will be fulfilled exclusively with Israel, especially those involving the land. However, all spiritual benefits are now being shared by the church.67
Decker provides the following helpful chart that assists interpreters in understanding which of the New Covenant’s blessings are being fulfilled within the church today.68
Provisions Old Testament New Testament
Internalization Jer 31:33 John 16:13
Relationship with God Jer 31:33 John 14:23
Knowledge Jer 31:34 1 John 5:20
Forgiveness Jer 31:34 Eph 1:7
Responsiveness Ezek 36:26 Rom 7:22
Obedience Ezek 36:27 Rom 8
RESOLVING THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE NEW TESTAMENT’S PRESENTATION OF THE NEW COVENANT
As previously discussed a strong New Testament exegetical case can be made concerning the ratification of the New Covenant with Christ’s death and the church’s participation in some of the blessings of the New Covenant. However, such an exegetical conclusion has raised theological problems. For example, if the church is not a party to the New Covenant and the New Covenant’s provisions will ultimately be fulfilled with millennial Israel, how is it possible for the church to share in any of the New Covenant blessings? Moreover, if the dispensational understanding of separate programs for Israel and the church is correct, then how is it possible for the church to share in any of Israel’s covenants?
Christ Mediates Both Programs
Perhaps one solution to this theological dilemma is to understand that Jesus is the author of both the program for Israel and the program for the church. Thus, a slight intermingling of both programs is possible because it is Christ who is ultimately the author of both. Toussaint explains:
Since the King has provided the basis of establishing the new covenant with Israel, it is very possible for some of the spiritual benefits to be available in the church age. The church’s relationship to the new covenant is parallel in certain respects to its connection with the kingdom promises of Israel. The church is constituted, blessed, and directed by the same Person who shall bring about the literal Jewish kingdom.69
Christ as the True Israel
Another possibility for understanding how the church shares in Israel’s New Covenants is the recognition of Jesus as the true Israel. In other words, the church’s participation in Israel’s covenant can be explained in terms of her intimate connection to Christ who is the true Israel. Scripture suggests that Christ is the true Israel. For example, Jesus refers to Himself as the vine in John 15:1. Perhaps He is borrowing this imagery from Isaiah 5:1-7, which describes Israel as the vineyard.70
The early chapters of Matthew also seem to argue that Christ is the true Israel. Matthew appears to use Old Testament prophecy to make this argument. For example, although Matthew 2:13-15 uses Hosea 11:1 as a prophecy of the baby Jesus’ flight from Egypt, the context of Hosea 11:1 describes Israel’s exodus experience. Similarly, although Matthew 2:16-18 uses Jeremiah 31:15 as a prediction of Herod putting to death the male children in Bethlehem, the context of Jeremiah 31:15 describes the death of Jewish children caused by the Babylonian persecution. Dyer believes that these Old Testament passages are used in this manner in the early chapters of Matthew’s gospel because Matthew is attempting to draw a parallel between Israel and Jesus. God called Israel to be a light to the Gentiles ( Isa 49:6 ), but Israel failed. Conversely, the Father called Christ to be a light to the world ( John 8:12 ), and Christ succeeded where Israel failed. Thus, Christ became the true Israel.71
In fact, Matthews’s gospel records numerous instances where Christ succeeded in the very area that Israel failed. For example, although both Israel and Christ were called from Egypt as children ( Hos 11:1; Matt 2:15 ), only Christ was obedient. Moreover, although both Israel and Christ were baptized ( 1 Cor 10:1-2; Matt 3 ), only Christ obeyed God after this baptism experience ( Exod 15:22-26; Matt 3:17 ). Furthermore, although both Israel and Christ went into the wilderness to be tempted ( Exod-Num; Matt 4 ), only Christ successfully endured temptation.72 Because Christ succeeded where Israel failed, Christ became the true Israel.
Isaiah’s servant songs ( Isa 42; 49-57 ) also argue for identifying Christ as the true Israel. In these passages, Israel’s calling is portrayed as the true servant of God ( Isa 42:1-7 ). Yet, these passages indicate that Israel failed in fulfilling this calling ( Isa 42:18-22 ). Thus, God predicted that He would raise up a new servant to become all that Israel failed to be ( Isa 49:1-7 ). This second servant is obviously Christ ( Isa 52:13-53:12 ). This point is clarified through Christ’s application of some of the servant song passages to Himself ( Matt 12:17-21 ). Thus, Christ became a sort of new Israel in succeeding in the very calling that Israel had failed in.73 In sum, the church’s participation in Israel’s covenant can be explained in terms of her intimate connection to Christ who is the true Israel.
The Church Already Shares in Israel’s Blessings
Another way of reconciling how the church shares in Israel’s New Covenant is by understanding the numerous blessings that the church already shares with Israel. In other words, if the church already participates in many of Israel’s blessings, it should come as no surprise that the church also participates in some of the blessings of Israel’s New Covenant. Toussaint specifies several ways that the church already participates in Israel’s program.74
First, Christ promised the apostles, who would become the foundation of the church ( Eph 2:20 ), that they would reign over Israel in the land during the millennium ( Matt 19:28; Luke 22:28-30 ). Second, in Romans 11, believing Gentiles, who are symbolized as wild branches ( Rom 11: 24 ), share in the root of the olive tree. This root of the olive tree represents the Jewish patriarchs ( Rom 11:16 ). Third, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:2, promises the church it will judge the world and rule in the millennium. Fourth, Galatians 3:29 associates the church with Israel’s land promises. Galatians 3:29 says, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” The same chapter refers to the promises spoken to Abraham and to his seed (v. 16 ). The phrase “and to your seed” includes the land promises in Genesis ( Gen 13:15; 15:18; 17:7-8; 24:7; 26:3; 28:4, 13; 48:4 ). Thus, the church must somehow be related to the land promises.
Fifth, Ephesians 2:19 associates the church with Israel’s covenants. Ephesians 2:19 says that the church consists of those who “are no longer strangers and aliens [to the covenants of promise, v. 12 ], but you are fellow citizens with the saints.” Both verses 12 and 19 are looking at the covenants of promise given to Israel. Thus, somehow the church participates in the Jewish covenants and hope. Sixth, Hebrews 11:39-40 associates the church with the heirs of the Old Testament promises when it says, “And all these having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” The pronouns “us” and “they” join the church and Old Testament believers together as somehow participating in future blessings. Seventh, Luke 19:11-27 pictures Israel and the church as being rewarded together. This passage deals with the Lord returning to reign and giving his faithful servants varying degrees of authority to rule over cities in the kingdom age. This prediction seems equally applicable to both Israel and the church. In sum, given the fact that the church already participates in Israel’s blessings, it should come as no surprise that the church also participates in the blessing of Israel’s New Covenant.
Gentiles as Contemplated Beneficiaries under Israel’s Covenants
A final way of understanding how the church can participate in the blessings of Israel’s New Covenant is by recognizing that the Gentiles are already contemplated beneficiaries of Israel’s covenants. This is certainly true with the Abrahamic Covenant. According to Benware:
Provision for the Gentiles was made in the Abrahamic covenant (“in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” Gen. 12:3 ). The salvation and blessing of Gentiles was always part of God’s plan and concern.75
Moreover, although Israel and God are the only parties to the New Covenant, no where does the Old Testament say that the Gentiles are completely excluded from its provisions. The conclusion of Gentile exclusion could only be logically drawn if the text specified that Israel’s status under the covenant was exclusive. However, the Old Testament merely speaks of Israel’s inclusion.76 In fact, a few Old Testament references to the New Covenant do anticipate Gentile involvement and blessing ( Isa 55:5; Ezek 36:36; 37:28 ).77 In conclusion, if the Gentiles are already contemplated beneficiaries under Israel’s covenants, then it should not be surprising to discover the New Testament’s teaching that the church participates in some of the New Covenant blessings.
INADEQUATE NEW COVENANT VIEWS
The preceding discussion has attempted to present an understanding of the New Covenant’s relation to the church that maintains both the continuity and discontinuity between God’s programs for Israel and the church. However, interpreters have proposed other options that seem to handle the subject of the New Covenant’s relation to the church in a less satisfactory manner. In this third and final section, four such methods will be highlighted along with the flaws in each approach. These inadequate methods include the two-covenant view of classical dispensationalism, the replacement view typically associated with amillennialism and postmillennialism, the church’s non-participation in the New Covenant as taught by John Master, and the complementary hermeneutical approach of progressive dispensationalism.
TWO COVENANT VIEW
Proponents of the two-covenant view attempt to resolve the tension between Israel’s New Covenant as revealed in the Old Testament and the church’s participation in the New Covenant’s blessings by proposing that there are actually two new covenants. One was made with Israel and the other was made with the church. Lewis Sperry Chafer was the individual most responsible for popularizing such an approach. According to Chafer:
The eighth covenant is with Israel and conditions their life kingdom (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 ) …There remains to be recognized a heavenly covenant for the heavenly people, which is also styled like the preceding one for Israel a “new covenant.” It is made in the blood of Christ (cf. Mark 14:24 ) and continues in effect throughout this age, whereas the new covenant made with Israel happens to be future in its application. To suppose that these two covenants - one for Israel and one for the church - are the same is to assume that there is a latitude of common interest between God’s purpose for Israel and His purpose for the church. Israel’s covenant, however, is new only because it replaces the Mosaic, but the church’s covenant is new because it introduces that which is God’s mysterious and unrelated purpose. Israel’s new covenant rests specifically on the sovereign “I will” of Jehovah, while the new covenant for the church is made in Christ’s blood. Everything that Israel will yet have, to supply another contrast, is the present possession of the church - and infinitely more.78
Unfortunately, Chafer’s view lacks a solid exegetical foundation. Decker explains:
The basis for this view is the presupposition that there can be no common interest between God’s purposes for Israel and for the Church. The position suffers two fatal flaws: Scripture never explicitly says that there are two new covenants nor does it ever juxtapose them in the same context, and second, it is built on a theological presupposition rather than on an exegesis of the text. Chafer’s determination to maintain a complete separation between Israel and the Church has forced him to an exegetically indefensible conclusion.79
The two-covenant view also suffers from other flaws. According to Toussaint:
Paul was clear in his delineation between the church and Israel in God’s program ( Romans 9-11 ). Why then would he not have been specific in pointing out the difference between two new covenants?80
Moreover, the two-covenant view suffers from a complete lack of contemporary scholarly support. Although the early writings of Ryrie and Walvoord sought to defend the two-covenant position,81 their later writings demonstrate an abandonment of this position and instead teach that the church participates in some aspects of the one New Covenant.82 Blaising observes that he “knows no dispensational scholar who holds it today.”83
On the other end of the theological spectrum is the replacement view. Proponents of this view maintain that the New Testament citations of the New Covenant indicate that the promises given to Israel find their complete fulfillment in the church. In other words, the church does not merely partake of Israel’s New Covenant blessings but rather completely takes them over. Thus, Carr asserts, “The mediator of the New Covenant is ratifying it with the Princes of the New Israel.”84 Such a view is prominent within amillennial and postmillennial theological systems, which hold that the church has permanently replaced Israel in the plan and purposes of God.
However, this view, like the two-covenant view, is fraught with difficulties. First, it requires a leap in logic. The church’s participation in some aspects of the New Covenant does not mean that the church takes over the New Covenant. Similar thinking would dictate that because Texas participates in some of the territory of the United States, Texas becomes the United States. Second, the church is obviously not fulfilling all of the provisions of the New Covenant. The church is not currently dwelling in prosperity in the Promised Land. Thus, the replacement view only becomes plausible to the extent that the interpreter allegorizes the New Covenant provisions.
Third, the replacement view fails to acknowledge God’s unconditional covenant made with ethnic Israel ( Gen 15:7-17; Jer 31:35-37 ). Fourth, the view requires allegorization of the numerous references that speak of future restoration and prominence for national Israel ( Isa 2:1-4 ). Fifth, it attempts to change the church into Israel despite the fact that the term “Israel” is never used for the church anywhere in the New Testament.85 Sixth, the theological view that the church has become the new Israel is not detectable in church history until A.D. 160.86
THE CHURCH’S NON-PARTICIPATION IN THE NEW COVENANT
John Master is a modern proponent of this view.87 According to Master, the church has no relationship with the New Covenant. The New Covenant is exclusively for Israel in the future millennial kingdom. Although the church enjoys similar spiritual blessings as those specified for Israel, they are not given to the church because of the New Covenant. The only relationship between the church and the New Covenant is that the church is united to Jesus Christ who is the mediator of the New Covenant. The burden of proof shifts to Master to explain why 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and 2 Corinthians 3:6-18 seemingly apply the New Covenant to the church.
Regarding 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Master observes that the teaching regarding the New Covenant is drawn from Christ’s statements in the Upper Room Discourse that were given in an eschatological context. Master sees a similar eschatological context regarding the New Covenant emphasis in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. According to Master:
Paul’s quotation of Jesus specifically identifies the breaking of the bread as a memorial of his death for the believers in Corinth. The expression “for you,” however, is not found in Paul’s mention of the cup of the New Covenant (v. 25; cf. Lk. 22:20 ). The absence of this expression with the mention of the cup might indicate that the bread is a memorial specifically for them but the cup does not relate directly to them but rather to God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel’s future.88
However, it seems unusual to view the table as a memorial commemorating something done for a third party. The notion of an ordinance as a memorial seems more appropriate as a direct reference rather than an indirect command regarding a third party.89
In addition, Master contends that the cutting of a covenant does not necessarily mean that the covenant is operational today. He notes:
The new covenant was ratified by Christ’s death on the cross. Yet because a covenant has been “cut” does not mean that it is fully operational. God “cut” a covenant with Abraham regarding the land ( Gen. 15 ), which has not been fulfilled. There may or may not be a period of time between the cutting of the covenant and it’s realization in human experience, when it becomes functional.90
Again, it is odd to for the church to have an ordinance that celebrates and remembers the “cutting” of the New Covenant if the church were not somehow sharing in some of the blessings of the covenant.91
Regarding 2 Corinthians 3:6-18, Master maintains that Paul calls himself a minister of a new covenant in order to emphasize the character of his ministry. In other words, rather than identifying himself as a minister of Jeremiah’s New Covenant, Paul is speaking of “a new kind of ministry” in contrast to others who emphasize a ministry of works and self-effort. Master bases his argument on the anarthrous construction of “a new covenant” in 2 Corinthians 3:6. Master observes that 2 Corinthians 3:6 says “a new covenant” rather than “the New Covenant.” Furthermore, Master understands “the letter” (gramma) in Corinthians 3:6 to refer to the misuse of the Mosaic Law rather than to the Old Testament Law itself.92
However, both of these arguments are problematic. For example, an anarthrous construction does not necessarily communicate a qualitative emphasis.93 Moreover, while it is true that 2 Corinthians 3:6 does not say “the New Covenant” but rather says “a new covenant,” Jeremiah 31 does not say “the New Covenant” either. Paul probably did not use the expression “the New Covenant” because his purpose was not to point out which covenant. Rather, his purpose was to emphasize the different nature of the New Covenant when compared to the Old Covenant. Interestingly, the passage does not specify the Mosaic Covenant either. However, the context makes it clear that the Mosaic Covenant is in view. Similarly, the context also makes it clear that the New Covenant is in view without the necessity of the passage specifically identifying the New Covenant.94
Furthermore, the argument that the “letter” (gramma) refers to the misuse of the Mosaic Law rather than the Mosaic Law itself seems to ignore numerous contextual factors to the contrary. For example, the passage also mentions “engraved in letters of stone” (v. 7 ), “written on tablets of stone” (v. 3 ), and “the face of Moses” (v. 7 ). These references all seem to point to the Law of Moses itself rather than the mere misuse of it. It is also seems odd to view the misuse of the law as that which was glorious before the coming of the New Covenant (vv. 7-11 ).95
Some following Master’s view might contend that the church cannot be benefiting from the provisions of the New Covenant because there is no universal knowledge among God’s people today. In light of the New Covenant provision found in Jeremiah 31:34, such universal knowledge would have to be the present experience of God’s people if they are indeed sharing in the New Covenant’s blessings. However, the New Testament regularly teaches about the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit ( John 6:45; 16:12-13; 1 John 2:20, 27 ). All New Testament believers experience such illumination because of the Spirit’s work in their lives. When viewed from this standpoint, all believers experience the type of universal knowledge spoken of in Jeremiah 31:34.96
Complementary hermeneutics offered by progressive dispensationalism represents a final inadequate approach toward understanding the church’s relationship to the New Covenant. Most normative and progressive dispensationalists agree that the church shares in some of the blessings of the New Covenant. However, normative dispensationalists often disagree with the hermeneutical methodology employed by progressives in reaching this conclusion. Complementary hermeneutics means:
…that the New Testament does introduce change and advance; it does not merely repeat Old Testament revelation. In making complementary additions, however, it does not jettison old promises. The enhancement is not at the expense of the original promise.97
Progressives believe that the New Testament uses this complementary approach when it applies the New Covenant to the Gentiles. Bock notes:
…some themes and texts have a complementary relationship. The additional inclusion of some in the promise does not mean that the original recipients are thereby excluded. The expansion of promise need not mean the cancellation of earlier commitments God has made. The realization of a new covenant hope today for Gentiles does not mean that the promise made to Israel in Jeremiah 31 has been jettisoned.98
However, must one believe that the New Testament has introduced change and advance in applying the New Covenant to Gentiles? God’s covenant program has always contemplated Gentiles as beneficiaries ( Gen 12:3 ). New Covenant prophecies from the Old Testament also contemplate Gentiles as beneficiaries ( Isa 55:5; Ezek 36:36; 37:28 ). Thus, when the New Testament speaks of Gentiles sharing in the blessings of the New Covenant, it is not really introducing change but merely restating what has already been disclosed in the Old Testament. It is true that the Old Testament does not use the word “church” when discussing the Gentiles as New Covenant beneficiaries. However, this absence is only due to the fact that the church was an undisclosed mystery during the Old Testament era ( Eph 3:9 ).
Rather than seeing the church’s participation in the New Covenant as a complementary addition made by the New Testament, it is better to view such participation as more specificity further disclosed in the progress of revelation. Lightner explains this distinction:
“Complementary hermeneutics” must not be confused with the historic orthodox doctrine of progressive revelation. The latter truth means that God revealed His truth gradually, sometimes over a long period of time. What was revealed later never changed the original revelation, however. The meaning and the recipients of the original promise always remain the same.99
The inclusion of the Gentiles and the church in the New Covenant is merely a more specific amplification of what was already revealed in the Old Testament. Ryrie correctly observes, “Concerning the church’s relation to the covenant, it seems best understood in light of the progress of revelation.” 100 Thus, categorizing the church’s inclusion in the New Covenant as a complementary change is inappropriate.
This paper has sought to present a view of the New Covenant’s relation to the church that maintains both the continuity and discontinuity between God’s programs for Israel and the church. The paper has accomplished this objective by presenting what the Old Testament says about the New Covenant and how the New Testament applies the New Covenant to the church. This paper has also provided a contrast between the approach presented herein and other inadequate options for understanding the church’s relationship to the New Covenant.
BIBLIOGRAPHYBenware, Paul N. Understanding End Times Prophecy. Chicago: Moody, 1995.
Blaising, Craig A. "Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: Assessment and Dialogue." In Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
________. "Development of Dispensationalism by Contemporary Dispensationalists (Part 2)." Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (July-September 1988): 254-280.
Bock, Darrell L. "Interpreting the Bible-How Texts Speak to Us." In Progressive Dispensationalism, ed. Darrell L. Bock Craig A. Blaising. Wheaton: Victor, 1993.
Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Hebrews New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964.
Carr, Arthur. The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Cambridge: University Press, 1894.
Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. 8 vols. Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948. Reprint, [8 vols. in 4], Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993.
Compton, R. Bruce. "An Examination of the New Covenant in the Old and New Testaments." Th.D. diss., Grace Theological Seminary, 1986.
Decker, Rodney. "Dispensational Views of the New Covenant." In Dictionary of Pre Millennial Theology, ed. Mal Couch. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996.
________. "Theology of the New Covenant." In Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, ed. Mal Couch. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996.
________. "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)." Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (July-September 1995): 290-305.
________. "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)." Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (October-December 1995): 431-456.
Dyer, Charles. "Biblical Meaning of "Fulfillment"." In Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis. Chicago: Moody, 1994.
________. "Old Testament Prophets-Jeremiah." unpublished class notes in 304C Old Testament Prophets, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring Semester, 2000.
Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. rev. ed. Tustin: Ariel Ministries, 1994.
Hodges, Zane. "Hebrews." In The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.
Hughes, Philip E. A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977.
Kaiser, Walter C. "The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34." In The Bible in Its Literary Mileu, ed. John Maier and Vincent Tollers. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.
Kent, Homer. The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972.
Kent, Homer A. "The New Covenant and the Church." Grace Theological Journal 6, no. 6 (1985): 289-98.
Lightner, Robert. Last Days Handbook. rev. ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.
Master, John R. "The New Covenant." In Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.
McNeile, Alan Hugh. The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Macmillan and Co., 1915. Reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980.
Merrill, Charles Dyer and Gene. Old Testament Explorer Swindoll Leadership Library, ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck. Nashville: Word Publishing, 2001.
Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2d ed. London: United Bible Societies, 1994.
Pate, C. Marvin. "A Progressive Dispensationalist View of Revelation." In Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin Pate. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Penney, Russell L. "The Relationship of the Church to the New Covenant." Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 7 (1998): 457-477.
Pentecost, J. Dwight. Thy Kingdom Come. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1990.
Peters, George N. H. The Theocratic Kingdom. 3 vols. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884. Reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952.
Pettegrew, Larry D. The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit: A Study in Continuity and Discontinuity. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993.
Piepgrass, C. E. "A Study of the New Testament References to the Old Testament Covenants." Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1968.
Ramm, Bernard. Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Boston: W.A. Wilde, 1956.
Robertson, O. Palmer. The Christ of the Covenants. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980.
Ryrie, Charles. The Basis of the Pre Millennial Faith. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1953.
________. "Covenant, New." In The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Howard F. Vos and J. Rea. Chicago: Moody, 1975.
Saucy, Robert L. "The Church as the Mystery of God." In Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for a Definition, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
________. The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993.
Showers, Renald E. There Really Is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology. Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1990.
Smick, Elmer B. "Carat." In Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris and Gleason L. Archer and Bruce K. Waltke. Chicago: Moody, 1980.
Toussaint, Stanley D. Behold the King. Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980.
________. "Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist." In Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, ed. Herbert W. Bateman. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999.
________. Class Notes of Andy Woods in Be2035 Seminar in Hebrews and the General Epistles: Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 2003.
Turner, David L. "The New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:1-22:5; Consummation of a Biblical Continuum." In Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. Walvoord, John F. The Millennial Kingdom. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959.
________. "Does the Church Fulfill Israel's Program? (Part 3)." Bibliotheca Sacra 137 (July-September 1980): 212-222.
Ware, Bruce A. "The New Covenant and the People(S) of God." In Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
NOTES1 Much of the material for this introductory summary was taken from Russell L. Penney, "The Relationship of the Church to the New Covenant," Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 7 (1998): 458-61.
2 C. E. Piepgrass, “A Study of the New Testament References to the Old Testament Covenants” (Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1968), 174.
3 Penney: 463.
4 All Scripture quotations used throughout are taken from the New King James Version.
5 J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1990), 164.
6 Charles Dyer, "Old Testament Prophets-Jeremiah," (unpublished class notes in 304C Old Testament Prophets, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring Semester, 2000), 27.
7 Penney: 462.
8 Rodney Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)," Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (July-September 1995): 294.
9 George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, 3 vols. (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952), 1:322.
10 Dyer, 27.
11 Penney: 463.
12 Walter C. Kaiser, "The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34," in The Bible in Its Literary Mileu, ed. John Maier and Vincent Tollers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 109, 117.
13 Penney: 463.
14 Renald E. Showers, There Really Is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1990), 100.
15 Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980), 300.
16 Decker: 300.
17 Toussaint, 302.
18 Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 433-34.
19 Showers, 103.
20 Robert L. Saucy, "The Church as the Mystery of God," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for a Definition, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 127-75.
21 Toussaint, 299.
22 Decker: 291.
23 John R. Master, "The New Covenant," in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 98.
24 Pentecost, 172-75.
25 Homer A. Kent, "The New Covenant and the Church," Grace Theological Journal 6, no. 6 (1985): 292-93.
26 Peters, 1:195.
27 O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 4.
28 Elmer B. Smick, "Carat," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris and Gleason L. Archer and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 1:456-57.
29 Rodney Decker, "Theology of the New Covenant," in Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, ed. Mal Couch (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 279.
30 Master, 98-99.
31 Rodney Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (October-December 1995): 449.
32 Ibid., 452.
33 Alan Hugh McNeile, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Macmillan and Co., 1915; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 382.
34 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)," 302.
35 Penney: 466-67.
36 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 449.
38 Larry D. Pettegrew, The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit: A Study in Continuity and Discontinuity (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993), 18.
39 Kent: 293.
40 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)," 292 n. 7.
41 Zane Hodges, "Hebrews," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor, 1983), 798.
43 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 451.
45 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)," 301.
46 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 451-52. Penney: 470-71.
47 Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2d ed. (London: United Bible Societies, 1994), 598.
48 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 452 n. 98.
49 Toussaint, 302.
50 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 452.
51 Ibid.: 542-53. Penney: 471.
52 Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 403.
53 Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation (Boston: W.A. Wilde, 1956), 264.
54 R. Bruce Compton, “An Examination of the New Covenant in the Old and New Testaments” (Th.D. diss., Grace Theological Seminary, 1986), 253.
55 Toussaint, 302.
56 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 453-54. Penney: 471-72.
57 F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 372.
58 David L. Turner, "The New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:1-22:5; Consummation of a Biblical Continuum," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 273.
59 Homer Kent, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), 272.
60 Ibid., 273.
61 Penney: 472.
62 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 453-54.
63 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)," 301.
64 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 447-48.
65 Showers, 107.
66 Bruce A. Ware, "The New Covenant and the People(S) of God," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 94-95.
67 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, rev. ed. (Tustin: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 635-36.
68 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part 1)," 292.
69 Toussaint, 302-3.
70 Stanley D. Toussaint, Class Notes of Andy Woods in Be2035 Seminar in Hebrews and the General Epistles (Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 2003).
71 Charles Dyer, "Biblical Meaning of "Fulfillment"," in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis (Chicago: Moody, 1994), 55.
73 Charles Dyer and Gene Merrill, Old Testament Explorer, ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Swindoll Leadership Library (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2001), 565-66.
74 Stanley D. Toussaint, "Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist," in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, ed. Herbert W. Bateman (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 249-52.
75 Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 72.
76 Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 114.
77 Ibid., 122-25.
78 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948; reprint, [8 vols. in 4], Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 7: 98-99.
79 Rodney Decker, "Dispensational Views of the New Covenant," in Dictionary of Pre Millennial Theology, ed. Mal Couch (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 281.
80 Toussaint, Behold the King, 302.
81 John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 208-20. Charles Ryrie, The Basis of the Pre Millennial Faith (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1953), 105-25.
82 Charles Ryrie, "Covenant, New," in The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Howard F. Vos and J. Rea (Chicago: Moody, 1975), 1:392. John F. Walvoord, "Does the Church Fulfill Israel's Program? (Part 3)," Bibliotheca Sacra 137 (July-September 1980): 220.
83 Craig A. Blaising, "Development of Dispensationalism by Contemporary Dispensationalists (Part 2)," Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (July-September 1988): 278.
84 Arthur Carr, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Cambridge: University Press, 1894), microfiche: 291.
85 Fruchtenbaum, 684-99.
86 C. Marvin Pate, "A Progressive Dispensationalist View of Revelation," in Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin Pate (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 164.
87 Master, 93-110.
88 Ibid., 99.
89 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 440.
90 Master, 99.
91 Penney: 467.
92 Master, 100-1.
93 Decker, "Dispensational Views of the New Covenant," 281.
94 Penney: 468.
95 Decker, "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant (Part Two)," 440 n. 45.
96 Kent, "The New Covenant and the Church," 294-95.
97 Craig A. Blaising, "Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: Assessment and Dialogue," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 392-93.
98 Darrell L. Bock, "Interpreting the Bible-How Texts Speak to Us," in Progressive Dispensationalism, ed. Darrell L. Bock Craig A. Blaising (Wheaton: Victor, 1993), 103-4.
99 Robert Lightner, Last Days Handbook, rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 210.
100 Ryrie, "Covenant, New," 1:392.
I found this article on Spirit and Truth, Dr. Andrew Woods is the best Bible Teacher I have heard, far exceeding anything I heard on my journey to my MDiv in seminary.
Dr. Woods is the Senior pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church. He is also the president of Chafer Theological Seminary. In addition, Andy has contributed to many theological journals and Christian books and has spoken on a variety of topics at Christian conferences. Many of his articles and conference seminars are also available at www.spiritandtruth.org
I watch and download many of his videos from his YouTube Channel which I embed on my website.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
January 17Leviticus 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places. ESV
The sabbath of old and the Lord’s day now speak of rest; the one of rest after labor, the other of rest before service. People often ask, “Who changed the sabbath?” Properly speaking, the sabbath has never been changed. The sabbath belongs to the old covenant, and is Israel’s memorial day. But Scripture tells us that after the death and resurrection of Christ “the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law” (Hebrews 7:12). Under the new dispensation we see the first day of the week taking the place of the seventh day sabbath, and the church has recognized this change from the beginning of the Christian era. We may safely say that the guidance of the Holy Spirit led believers to give special recognition to the memorial day of Christ’s resurrection, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). This is the day of verses 22 and 23, when the rejected stone was made “the chief cornerstone,” when God raised Christ from the dead.
Hebrews 7:12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. ESV
Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. ESV
The day of resurrection!
Earth tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness,
The Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over,
With hymns of victory.
--- John of Damascus
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
V. CORROBORATIVE EVIDENCE OF EARLY DATE OF SOURCESThere are, we would say in concluding, three things which strongly corroborate the positions we have laid down.
1. The first is the enormous increase of light which recent discovery has cast on the very early, and indeed common, use of writing, and high development of literature in the ancient East. We return to this subject in a later chapter, and only here anticipate the general result. The discoveries amount to a revolution in old beliefs, and, as scholars are beginning to recognise, alter the perspective of everything that relates to arts, laws, and letters in the early parts of the Old Testament. Culture and writing are carried back in Babylonia to an almost fabulous antiquity—millenniums before the days of Abraham, and the age of Abraham itself is shown by the Code of Hammurabi and the contract tablets of the same age to have been one of highly-developed civilisation and general enlightenment. In Egypt we find that the hieroglyphic system was already complete by the time of Menes, founder of the first dynasty (c. 4000 B.C.); in Canaan, as the Tel el-Amarna tablets discover to us, epistolary correspondence was freely carried on about 1400 B.C., in the Babylonian language and cuneiform character; Crete is proved to have been the abode of an advanced culture long before the age of Moses: if Dr. Glaser’s speculations are correct, the inscriptions of the kingdom of Maon in South Arabia are possibly as old as the Exodus. It cannot be denied that this wholly unexpected light on the all but universal diffusion of letters in the ancient world puts the problems of the patriarchal and Mosaic times in an entirely new setting. It is no longer sufficient to reply that a nomad people like the Hebrews was an exception to the general rule. The nomad theory rests on the critic’s own assumptions, and is of no force against the indications of the history itself. Moses was not a nomad, but is figured as “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” Joseph and his family were not nomads, and the position of the Hebrews in Egypt under Joseph’s régime must have been one of great honour and influence.
2. The progress of discovery, again, has brought to light so much minutely confirmatory of the historical, geographical, and ethnographical data of the early parts of the Old Testament, that the assumption of early records seems indispensable to explain how such knowledge—often antiquarian and obsolete—has been preserved. Such, e.g., is the light thrown on the historical conditions in the account of the expedition of Chedorlaomer in Gen. 14; or on the remarkable statements in Gen. 10 as to the origin and relations of the most ancient peoples; or on the vivid picturing of Egyptian life and customs in the history of Joseph, and in the narratives of Moses and the Exodus.
3. Lastly, there is the evidence of the Biblical narratives themselves as to the early use of writing in Israel. Thus far we have refrained from drawing on the Biblical history, but, in an inquiry of this kind, its evidence cannot in fairness be disregarded. It is not to be thought of, that, while every scrap of testimony from profane sources is welcomed, and made the most of, the Scriptures alone are to be treated like criminal suspects, whose every word is to be doubted, unless hostile cross-examination fails to shake it, or independent confirmation of it can be produced. Like other witnesses, the Biblical writers are entitled to be heard with a prima facie presumption of their honesty. It is the case, then, that writing and written records are frequently referred to in the Pentateuchal narratives. Not, indeed, in the patriarchal narratives—an internal mark of their truthfulness—but in the age of Moses and Joshua. Repeatedly things are said to be written, or are commanded to be written. Writing is implied in the name of the “officers” (Shoterim = scribes) set over the Israelites in their bondage. No inconsiderable amount of written matter is directly ascribed to Moses, creating the presumption that there was more, even when the fact is not directly stated. Moses wrote “all the words of Jehovah” in the “Book of the Covenant.” He was commanded to write in a (the) book the decree against Amalek. He wrote “the goings-out” of Israel from Egypt, “according to their journeyings.” There was a written register of the seventy elders. He wrote “the words of this law” at Moab, “in a book until they were finished,” and also wrote his “Song,” and “taught it to the children of Israel.” “All the words of this law” were to be written on stones at Mount Ebal, and the Book of Joshua records that this was done. Joshua assumes, in conformity with Deut. 31:24–26, the existence of a “book of the law,” and it is said of Joshua’s own address to the people that “he wrote these words in the book of the law of God.” All this, as we now know, is in keeping with the state of culture at the time, and lends support to the view that much first-hand material from the Mosaic age is substantially preserved in the books which refer to this period.
The conclusion we draw from the whole discussion is, that the view is untenable which regards the Biblical history of Israel’s early condition and religious development as a projection back on patriarchal times of the ideas of the prophetic age. Even accepting the critical premises—in part by help of them—we are warranted in the belief to which we were led by the consideration of the organic and purposeful character of the Old Testament narrative itself, that it is a faithful representation of the actual course of the early history of the people. This conclusion will obtain confirmation from the detailed examination which follows.
The Problem of the Old Testament
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
The difference between Samson and Samuel (1)
1/17/2018 Bob Gass
‘Time would fail me to tell of…Samson…and Samuel.’
(Heb 11:32) And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— ESV
Samson and Samuel are mentioned in the same Scripture, but there are big differences between them. You ask, ‘Why should I be interested?’ Because as a Christian, you are like them. Each had a miraculous birth, so they’re a picture of those who’ve been born again and called to serve God. Paul writes, ‘These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’ (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NKJV). Difference one: Finances. Samson was greedy and manipulating, whereas Samuel practised integrity. One day Samson bet thirty Philistine princes that they couldn’t solve his riddle, saying, ‘If you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing’ (Judges 14:13 NKJV). Quite a wardrobe, eh? Samson’s emphasis was ‘you shall give me’. He’s an example of Christians in business who discredit the cause of Christ by unethical practices, and those in ministry who twist the Scriptures and resort to emotional manipulation to raise money. The world is watching, so let’s heed the Scripture: ‘Provide things honest in the sight of all men’ (Romans 12:17 KJV). Samuel was totally different. After forty years of his exemplary leadership, the people paid this tribute to him: ‘You have not cheated or oppressed us’ (1 Samuel 12:4 NKJV). When others can say that about you, you did it right! Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matthew 6:21 KJV). The condition of your heart is revealed in how you handle finances.
(1 Co 10:11–12) 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. ESV
(Jdg 14:13) 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” ESV
(Ro 12:17) Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. ESV
(1 Sa 12:4) They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” ESV
(Mt 6:21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ESV
January 17, 2016
As I said, my mornings begin slowly. I am most comfortable starting a new day with a slow process; start the coffee, turn on the heater, open the curtains, turn on Lily’s laptop, my laptop and then sip my first cup of coffee. It is often, usually, a time of reading and reflection. I always think of Lily and wonder why God has been so good to me. I have always admired Lily’s tenderness and thoughtfulness of others. I have always delighted in her sense of joy and kindness. She is easy to like and somewhere along our journey together we seem to have developed a mutual delight, admiration, and respect for one another. We are quite different from each other. It is quite understandable that I would be so captivated by her, but for the life of me I cannot understand why she loves me. It is a mystery, but a mystery I am grateful continues.
Funny how little has changed in three years, except I turned off the click my phone makes when you take a picture so I can sneak a picture of her every morning. She does not like her picture taken and no one does in the morning, but seeing her starting every day reading her bible fills me with joy and peace, so I will continue to snap her picture ... until I get caught.
by Bill Federer
On January 17, 1781, Washington’s southern army defeated the British troops at Cowpens. In hot pursuit, Lord Cornwallis reached the Catawba River just two hours after the American troops had crossed, but a storm made the river impassable. He nearly overtook the Americans again at the Yadkin River, just as they were getting out on the other side, but a torrential rain flooded the river. This happened a third time at the Dan River. British Commander Henry Clinton wrote: “Here the royal army was again stopped by a sudden rise of the waters, which had only just fallen (almost miraculously) to let the enemy over.”American Minute
Thomas R. Kelly
Thomas Kelly enjoyed his courses at Haverford College. This was especially true of his Greek philosophy and of a course in Oriental Philosophy which he inaugurated to carry on the interest that had taken him to Hawaii. At the time of his death he had interested one of the foundations in purchasing for the Haverford College Library extensive sets of reference books in Indian, Chinese and Japanese philosophy and culture. A course in the history and philosophy of Quakerism which he inherited from Rufus Jones gave him an occasion to immerse himself in Quaker history to his great delight. As a teacher at Haverford, he appealed to a small group of students whose enthusiasm for him and dedication to him knew few bounds. In the spring of 1938, he wrote to his faithful friend at Hartford, "I am more happy here at Haverford than anybody has a right to be, in this vale of tears and trouble(!) It is just about as ideal as one could ever wish for-yet with very human shortcomings."
In the first two years at Haverford, Little Richard Kelly was passing out of the baby stage. Lois Kelly, a beautiful girl of nine, was the idol of her father and reciprocated his affection. After the silent Quaker meeting for worship one day she told her mother that she had spent the meeting hour deciding whom she loved best, as she looked up at the gallery (where the elders of the meeting sit facing the meeting). After some weighing of the matter, she decided that she loved her daddy first, God second, Rufus Jones third, and J. Henry Bartlett fourth!
A Testament of Devotion
Compilation by RickAdams7
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him
than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word,
'darkness' on the walls of his cell. --- C. S. Lewis
Science brings man nearer to God…
There is something in the depths of our souls
which tells us that the world may be more
than a mere combination of events.
--- Louis Pasteur
A Christian is a person who, when getting to the end of his/her rope, ties a knot and determines to hang on, realizing that human extremity now becomes God’s opportunity.
--- Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
To have our senses exercised to discern between truth and falsehood, light and darkness, order and disorder, the will of God and the will of the flesh, is, I believe, the end and object of our training in this world.
--- Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
--- Greek Proverb
... from here, there and everywhere
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
by D.H. Stern
pay attention, in order to gain insight;
2 for I am giving you good advice;
so don’t abandon my teaching.
3 For I too was once a child to my father;
and my mother, too, thought of me as her special darling.
4 He too taught me; he said to me,
“Let your heart treasure my words;
keep my commands, and live;
5 gain wisdom, gain insight;
don’t forget or turn from the words I am saying.
6 Don’t abandon [wisdom]; then she will preserve you;
love her, and she will protect you.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The vocation of the natural life
But when it pleased God … to reveal His son in me …
--- Gal. 1:15–16.
The call of God is not a call to any particular service; my interpretation of it may be, because contact with the nature of God has made me realize what I would like to do for Him. The call of God is essentially expressive of His nature; service is the outcome of what is fitted to my nature. The vocation of the natural life is stated by the apostle Paul - "When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him” (i.e., sacramentally express Him) “among the Gentiles.”
Service is the overflow of superabounding devotion; but, profoundly speaking, there is no call to that, it is my own little actual bit, and is the echo of my identification with the nature of God. Service is the natural part of my life. God gets me into a relationship with Himself whereby I understand His call, then I do things out of sheer love for Him on my own account. To serve God is the deliberate love - gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is expressive of that which is fitted to my nature: God’s call is expressive of His nature; consequently when I receive His nature and hear His call, the voice of the Divine nature sounds in both and the two work together. The Son of God reveals Himself in me, and I serve Him in the ordinary ways of life out of devotion to Him.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
What is this creature discarded
like a toy necklace
among the weeds and flowers,
singing to me silently
of the fire never to be put out
at its thin lips? It is scion
of a mighty ancestor
that spoke the language
of trees to our first
parents and greened its scales
in the forbidden one, timelessly shining
as though autumn were never to be.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
The time has come for my departure. --- 2 Timothy 4:6.
A familiar and striking figure is used when Paul speaks of the time of his “departure.” ( Classic Sermon Outlines: Over 100 Sermon Outlines by 3 of the Best Known Preachers of All Time ) The thought is found in most tongues. Death is a going away, or, as Peter calls it, an exodus. But the well-worn image receives new depth and sharpness of outline in Christianity. To those who have learned the meaning of Christ’s resurrection and feed their souls on the hopes that it warrants, death is merely a change of place or state, an accident affecting locality and little more.
We have had plenty of changes before. Life has been one long series of departures. This is different from the others mainly in that it is the last and that to go away from this visible and fleeting show, where we wander aliens among things that have no true kindred with us, is to go home, where there will be no more pulling up the tent pegs and toiling across the deserts in monotonous change. How strong is the conviction, spoken in that name for death, that the essential life lasts on quite unaltered through it all! How slight the else formidable thing is made. We may change climates and for the stormy bleakness of life may have the long still days of heaven, but we do not change ourselves. We lose nothing worth keeping when we leave behind the body, as a dress not fitted for home, where we are going.
We only travel one more stage, though it is the last, and part of it is in pitchy darkness. Some pass over it as in a fiery chariot, like Paul and many a martyr. Some have to toil through it with slow steps and bleeding feet and fainting heart, but all may have a Brother with them and, holding his hand, may find that the journey is not so hard as they feared and the home, from which they shall remove no more, better than they hoped when they hoped the most.
--- Alexander Maclaren
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Death by Baptism
As Ulrich Zwingli preached in Zurich, he sought to bring reformation to Switzerland within the context of the established state church. In Zurich and throughout Europe, there was little difference between state and church. All babies baptized were thereby considered members of the church and citizens of the city. But Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, impatient with Zwingli’s reforms, began holding Bible classes in private homes, and their investigation of Scripture raised questions about state-sponsored sprinkling of infants.
When Grebel’s wife gave birth to a son the stage was set for conflict. On January 17, 1525, the Zurich City Council arranged a public debate on the issue. Zwingli insisted that all children be baptized by their eighth day, while Grebel and Manz argued that baptism symbolized a believer’s commitment to Christ. They lost.
Four days later under cloak of darkness, a dozen men trudged through falling snow to Manz’s house. After kneeling in prayer, one of them, George Blaurock, asked Grebel to baptize him in the apostolic fashion—upon his confession of personal faith in Christ. Grebel did so, then Blaurock, a former priest, baptized the others.
Zwingli was incensed, and these radical reformers were soon driven from Zurich. They established a congregation in the nearby village of Zollikon, the first “free” church of modern times. But they weren’t free from Zwingli, who hounded them, or from Zurich’s arm of persecution.
Grebel, his health failing in prison, died of the plague. Blaurock was burned at the stake. And Zurich officials decided that if Manz wanted baptism so badly, they would give it to him. Taking him from Wellenberg prison, they bound his arms and legs. As they rowed down the middle of Zurich’s Limmat River, his mother shouted over the splashing oars for him to remain true to Christ. After he sang “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,” he was rolled overboard, and the cold waters of Lake Zurich closed over his head.
As they were going along the road, they came to a place where there was some water. The official said, “Look! Here is some water. Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the chariot to stop. Then they both went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
--- Acts 8:36-38.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 17
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion." --- Revelation 14:1.
The apostle John was privileged to look within the gates of heaven, and in describing what he saw, he begins by saying, “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” This teaches us that the chief object of contemplation in the heavenly state is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Nothing else attracted the apostle’s attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who hath redeemed us by his blood. He is the theme of the songs of all glorified spirits and holy angels. Christian, here is joy for thee; thou hast looked, and thou hast seen the Lamb. Through thy tears thine eyes have seen the Lamb of God taking away thy sins. Rejoice, then. In a little while, when thine eyes shall have been wiped from tears, thou wilt see the same Lamb exalted on his throne. It is the joy of thy heart to hold daily fellowship with Jesus; thou shalt have the same joy to a higher degree in heaven; thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of his presence; thou shalt dwell with him for ever. “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” Why, that Lamb is heaven itself; for as good Rutherford says, “Heaven and Christ are the same thing;” to be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be with Christ. That prisoner of the Lord very sweetly writes in one of his glowing letters—“O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.” It is true, is it not, Christian? Does not thy soul say so?
“Not all the harps above
Can make a heavenly place,
If God his residence remove,
Or but conceal his face.”
All thou needest to make thee blessed, supremely blessed, is “to be with Christ.”
Evening - January 17
“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house.”
--- 2 Samuel 11:2.
At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Both at home and abroad we are liable to meet with allurements to evil; the morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armour-bearer of Sin is Self-confidence.
David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord’s battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed at eventide. Idleness and luxury are the devil’s jackals, and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters noxious creatures swarm, and neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briars. Oh for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful! When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day, and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door.
Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for retirement and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, a sanctuary from sin! While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful, we had need use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops, and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevent. Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.
Morning and Evening
THE KING OF LOVE MY SHEPHERD IS
Henry W. Baker, 1821–1877
For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. (Psalm 95:7)
The beloved words of Psalm 23 have undoubtedly provided greater comfort and encouragement to God’s people through the years than any other portion of Scripture. In times of deep need, how eloquently these tender words from the psalmist David minister to our wounded spirits. This psalm has also formed the textual basis for more sacred music than any other scriptural setting. But to many devout Christians the best-loved hymn based on Psalm 23 is this paraphrase by an English musician, Sir Henry Baker. In this text Baker skillfully combines thoughts of King David with lessons from the New Testament. For example, the words from the third stanza are based on the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:5. The fourth stanza includes the phrase “Thy cross before to guide me.” Here the shepherd is identified as Christ by the inclusion of the cross symbolism.
Sir Henry William Baker is highly regarded by students of hymnody for his work as the editor-in-chief of one of the most monumental hymnals ever published, Hymns, Ancient and Modern, a book which sold more than 60 million copies after it was published in 1861. See how these words can direct you again to the love of the Good Shepherd.
The King of Love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow my ransomed soul He leadeth,
and where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love He sought me,
and on His shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill with Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still, Thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spread’st a table in my sight; Thine unction grace bestoweth;
and O what transport of delight from Thy pure chalice floweth!
And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never:
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise within Thy house for ever!
For Today: Psalm 23; John 10:9; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Peter 2:25.
Take time to read and meditate again on the 23rd Psalm. Reflect on the tender love and care that an earthly shepherd has for his sheep. Relate this to your heavenly Shepherd’s guidance and care for your life. Let this musical message help you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
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