Saturday, 15 December 2018
Because finding fault with them, He 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— Hebrews 8:8
The author now continues on with the thought just presented in verse 8:7. There he said, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” The first (Mosaic) covenant was not faultless, as is confirmed in the words, “Because finding fault with them.” It is important to understand the wording. The author does not say, “Because finding fault with it.” There was fault under the Mosaic Covenant, but it was not in the law itself. Rather, it was in the people bound under it. Sin in man made it impossible for anyone under the law to be perfected. This includes both original sin and committed sin. The defect is in man, not in the law itself. This is why Paul says –
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Romans 7:7-12
The Old Covenant was perfect in its intent and purpose – to demonstrate that no one can be justified by attempting to adhere to it. The fault isn’t with the Covenant then, but rather with the people who were unable to meet its perfect demands. The law’s standards flow from God’s perfect character and only more poignantly show our imperfections. God knew this, but we didn’t. How could we appreciate Jesus? How could we appreciate God’s infinite mercy? How could we appreciate the perfection of God’s plan without first being given the law? It’s no different than feeling healthy. If we felt healthy all the time, we would never truly appreciate health. But when we get sick, we can appreciate our health more. In fact, the sicker we are, the more we can then appreciate true health. Jesus used this terminology even as He was fulfilling the law on our behalf –
“When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 9:12, 13
Because of this fault, the author then writes, “He says.” This is speaking of the Lord. The law could not accomplish the task of restoring fallen man to Him. This was already known by Him to be the case, but the law was given as a tutor to help us understand our need for something greater (Galatians 3:24, 25). When the lesson was learned, and in the fullness of time, God sent Christ to fulfill the law and to establish a New Covenant. To support this, he goes to Scripture and cites Jeremiah 31:31 with the words, “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.”
If the people were simply given God’s healing without realizing their sickness, it would have no effect in their lives. But once a law was given, the people learned, as if tutored, about the need to come to Christ’s perfection for our healing and restoration.
But something is stated in Jeremiah 31:31 which is surprisingly missed by replacement theologians. Who did this New Covenant go to? It went to the house of Israel and the house of Judah; to those who had lived under its yoke and who could appreciate the freedom it provided. This New Covenant was given to Israel and Judah. As they went into punishment for rejecting Christ, the church illogically decided that they must be “Israel.” The promises had been made, the Gentiles had received them, and so the church must now be “Israel.” With this logic, much of the body of the Old Testament had to be spiritualized because it is literally impossible for those prophecies to be fulfilled in the church in an actual way. This great error continues on in the minds of replacement theologians to this day.
However, it was only after the New Covenant in Christ was first presented to Israel, and through the instructive hands of the apostles, that the gospel came to the Gentiles. Paul’s letters show how the Gentiles are grafted into this body, but they did not replace it. His letters also clearly show how, in the future, Israel will again be brought into the New Covenant as a collective people. Peter says as much in his statements in Acts. It is, actually, inexcusable that the church has developed the doctrine of replacement theology. The covenant is made, it was made with Israel and Judah, and the church is not Israel nor Judah. In the future, the covenant will be realized in them. Coming soon to a millennial reign of Christ near you.
Now, during the Dispensation of Grace, all can look back on Israel’s years under the law and see the wisdom of God in Christ Jesus. The law was given, it was intended to lead us to Christ, and it is not an end in and of itself.
Life application: The church did not replace Israel.
O God! All the difficult work of meeting Your perfect standards was accomplished by Your own right arm – in the Person and work of Jesus. We can now rest in His perfection and, by faith alone, receive complete healing and restoration with You. And so, we give thanks to You! Amen!