The New Covenant – part 10 of ‘The Hope of Israel’

This is an edited version of the tenth chapter of Mauro’s book.

It was shown in a previous chapter that in God’s covenants with Israel, both in the covenant of Horeb (Deut. 5:2-3) and in the substitute made in the land of Moab (Deut. 29:1), all the promises were expressly made to depend upon conditions to be fulfilled by the Israelites, which conditions however they utterly failed to perform. From which it follows that the Jewish people would suffer curses rather than blessings according to the terms of those covenants. How immensely important to them, therefore, is that ‘new covenant,’ also called the ‘everlasting covenant,’ which God promised them through Jeremiah! I hope that every reader will be able to appreciate the vast importance of the truth concerning this new and everlasting covenant, whereof Jesus Christ is the ‘Surety’ (Heb. 7:22), the (Heb. 9:15; 12:24) and the ‘Covenant Victim’ (translated in Heb. 9:16,17 by the word ‘testator,’ which, however, has a very different meaning in modern English).

These are God’s words through Jeremiah:

‘Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, says the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And… they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’ (Jer. 31:31-34).

The Letter to the Hebrews (Chapters 7 to 10) contains the Holy Spirit’s comments on this great prophecy, being that Jesus Christ is ‘the Surety’ of this covenant, as well its ‘Mediator’ (7:22, 8:6, 12:24), that it has been ratified ‘by His own blood’ (9:12-24; 13:20), and that it is therefore ‘a better covenant, established upon better promises’ (8:6).

Further it is revealed in those chapters that, when Messiah had offered that ‘one sacrifice for sins forever, and sat down on the right hand of God,’ not only was the new covenant put into operation, but the old covenant and all its institutions – people, temple, priesthood, sacrifices, etc. – was forever abolished. Which former things, even in their own era, were nothing but ‘a shadow of good things to come’ (10:1).

Moreover, God never had any pleasure in them, because ‘it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.’ And surely, as we meditate upon the contents of Hebrews 9 and 10, we must discern that God would abhor the very thought of setting up again that same system of vain sacrifices and ceremonies, which He abolished at the awful cost of the sacrifice of His own Son, and which had their complete fulfilment in the ‘one sacrifice for sins forever’ which He offers.

We have in addition the plain statement that Christ, in coming to do His Father’s will by the sacrifice of Himself, ‘takes away the first, that He may establish the second’ (10:9), of which the context plainly suggests the removal forever of the old covenant, and the establishment forever of the new covenant. Indeed it is manifestly an impossibility that the ‘shadows’ should remain after the corresponding realities have come, and it is equally impossible that there should thereafter be any return to the system of shadows again.


Who then are the people with whom, and for whose benefit, this new and everlasting covenant has been established? By the Letter to the Hebrews it is revealed in the clearest light that the blessings of the new covenant, that is the forgiveness of sins and all other benefits flowing from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ are bestowed upon those who hold to the faith of Messiah, those ‘that believe to the saving of the soul’ (10:39), which blessed and holy company includes all those examples of saving faith mentioned in Hebrews 11. These are ‘the heirs of salvation’ (1:14). They are the ‘many sons’ God is bringing ‘unto glory’ (2:10). They are those whom the writer of the Letter addresses as ‘holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling’ (3:1), and concerning whom he says that they are ‘made partakers of Christ,’ and ‘partakers of the Holy Ghost’ (3:14, 6:4).

We have seen, however, that by Jeremiah God promised the new covenant to ‘the house of Israel and the house of Judah.’ But there is no contradiction here, and no change in God’s plans. For ‘Israel’ and ‘Judah’ were themselves but ‘shadows’ of God’s true Israel (‘the Israel of God,’ Gal. 6:16). For God has now revealed that ‘He is not a Jew which is one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly’ (Rom. 2:28,29), and that ‘they which are of faith’ -believing Gentiles equally with believing Jews – ‘the same are the children of Abraham,’ and heirs with Jesus Christ of the promises of God; which includes particularly the promises of the everlasting covenant (Gal. 3:7,3:29, 4:28, 4:31; Rom. 4:13-16). Specially illuminating and to the point are the words of Philippians 3:3: ‘For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.’

We should especially remember in this regard, that remarkable allegory of Galatians 4:21-31, to which I have already referred, and which teaches the lesson that even such matters as the personal and family history of one of the patriarchs foreshadowed the spiritual realities of this gospel era.

Specifically that allegory teaches that Abraham is the father of the one household of faith (see also Rom. 4:16, where he is called “the father of us all), that Hagar represents the old covenant of Mt. Sinai, and Ishmael the old covenant people (Abraham’s natural seed); and that Sarah stands for the new covenant, and Isaac for the new covenant people, the miraculously born ‘children of Abraham.’ It further makes known (and this is the climax of the lesson) that the natural descendants of Abraham (‘the son of the bondwoman’) were to be ‘cast out,’ and to have no part with the spiritual seed in the promises of the new covenant.


Let us now take a brief look at the prophecy of Zechariah 12-14, in order to understand primarily the meaning of the following predictions:

• “And they shall look on Me whom they have pierced” (12:10);

• “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west; and there shall be a very great valley; and half (i.e. a part) of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half (part) of it toward the south… And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half (or part) of them toward the former sea and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord and His name one” (14:4,7-9).

The question that concerns us for the moment is this: Are these passages to be understood as predictions of the national conversion of the Jews in a coming ‘day’, as some now teach? Or are they prophecies of the gospel, having their fulfilment in this present ‘day’, which (as I understand it) was always believed and held until quite recent times?

In the first place, I call attention to the fact that the context makes it clear that the oft-recurring phrase, ‘in that day,’ refers to this present day of grace, and not to the succeeding day of judgment. Thus, the words, ‘Awake O sword against My Shepherd’ (13:7) are certainly a prophecy of the cross. For our Lord Himself cited the words of the same verse, ‘Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered,’ as having their fulfilment on the eve of His crucifixion (Matt. 26:31). That same passage, moreover, begins with the words, ‘In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness’ (13:1), which is surely, as it always been esteemed, a most precious gospel promise. It follows that ‘the House of David’ is a symbol for the royal house, that is for Christ and those whom ‘He is not ashamed to call brethren’ (Heb. 2:11,12), ‘Whose house we are’ (Heb. 4:6), Christ being the true anointed King in the line and typology of ‘David.’

There is a striking correspondence here with the words of John in the Book of Revelation:‘Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God’ (Rev. 1:5,6).

Observe that here we have the reigning house (‘kings and priests,’ answering to ‘the house of David’), and these are ‘washed in His own blood,’ which answers to the promised fountain for cleansing from sin and from uncleanness (see also 1 Pet. 2:9). And of course ‘the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ are those who now ‘are come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem’ (Heb. 12:22), ‘the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all’ (Gal. 4:26).

Observe too that in the immediate context we find the prediction, ‘And they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced.’ The sense of this passage is clearer when we read ‘look unto Me,’ instead of ‘look upon Me.’ For the same expression occurs in Isaiah 45:22, where our Authorised Version renders it, ‘Look unto Me and be ye saved.’

Most assuredly, then, the fulfilment of this prophecy takes place in this ‘day’ of the gospel, and began from the day of Pentecost. For then Peter, standing up with the eleven, set forth before a great assembly of Jews, Christ crucified and risen, and addressed to them these memorable words: ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made that same Jesus whom you have crucified’ (compare the words, ‘whom they have pierced’) ‘both Lord and Christ’ (Ac. 2:36). At which time some three thousand souls where ‘cut to the heart’ and looked mournfully, repentantly and believingly unto Him whom they had pierced.

It should be observed further that, according to Zechariah’s prophecy, every family was to mourn apart, and their wives apart. Which signifies that ‘repentance unto life’ and the ‘godly sorrow’ that leads to it, were to be personal and individual, and not a national affair, as some Christian teachers wrongly teach today.

Concerning the latter of the passages quoted above, beginning: ‘And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives,’ we should first note that what goes before is evidently a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when the city was ‘taken,’ and the other horrors recited in verse 2 were perpetrated by the Roman armies, which were made up literally of ‘all nations’. This further tends to fix the time referred to by the phrase, ‘in that day.’ (In Bible prophecy any period of special judgment is spoken of as ‘the day of the Lord.’)

Zechariah then declares, by a series of figures and metaphors, after the usual prophetic manner, how the Lord would ‘go forth’ for the deliverance of His own people in those days. ‘The mount of Olives’ is a symbol of the nation Israel, to which He was to come (John 1:11). For in Bible prophecy a mountain is the common symbol of a nation; and the mount of Olives is a most suitable figure to represent the nation of Israel. The result of His coming to that nation was that it was divided in two (‘cloven in the midst’). For ‘there was a division because of Him’ (John 7:43; 9:16, etc.). And that rift was truly a ‘very great valley’ – deep and wide. ‘One part’ of the divided nation (for the word rendered ‘half’ means merely one of two parts, which may be very unequal in size) was removed (speaking figuratively) ‘toward the north,’ the region from which Israel’s enemies came, and where they were taken into captivity (Jer. 1:14,15, etc.), while the other region stands for the place of light and warmth and blessing – that is, the place of acceptance with God.

And lastly, the words, ‘And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go forth from Jerusalem,’ etc., are most certainly being fulfilled in this day of grace and salvation. For living water is a familiar figure of the life-imparting gospel. And on the day of Pentecost and subsequently it went forth from Jerusalem, both ‘toward the former sea’ (the nations of the east), and ‘toward the hinder sea’ (the nations of the west), both ‘in winter and in summer,’ that is at all seasons. And moreover from that time Jesus the risen One was proclaimed as the crowned and glorified Christ (God’s anointed King) to whom has been given all power in heaven and earth, ‘the King invisible,’ the ‘One Lord,’ whose name is the ‘one Name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.’

From all of this the conclusion must be that ‘the hope of the gospel’ is the one, the only, and the all sufficient hope for all mankind, that apart from it there is no hope for any, whether Jews or Gentiles, and that there will be no salvation hereafter of any sort whatever for those who ‘obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Further references to the new covenant, and additional proof of its commanding place and importance in God’s dealings with all mankind, Jews and gentiles alike, will be found in the next chapter.