The Messiah Himself, Is Our Covenant
by J. Dan Gill
YHWH Speaks to His Messiah:
I have called you in righteousness. I have taken your hand and kept you. I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations. – Isaiah 42:6
Blessed are those with whom God has made covenants – agreements with promises of wonderful things. Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, King David, and others have experienced the love, honor and responsibility that come with unique relationships with our Creator. Those covenants have often extended beyond the original persons, to their descendants and allies.
The most wonderful covenant by far is the one God makes with his Messiah. In it, he promises him the entire earth as his inheritance – forever. God says to the Messiah:
Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance – the farthermost parts of the earth as your possession (Psalm 2:8).
And, this covenant and its blessings are not only to the Messiah but to all who will be his people. It is this most excellent of covenants which brings us ultimately to unending life in the eternal kingdom of God.
YHWH promises that his Messiah not only gives the covenant to us – he himself “is” God’s covenant with us. Again, note that in Isaiah 42:6 above, YHWH does not just say “I will give you a covenant to give the people.” Rather, he tells the Messiah, “I have given you as a covenant to the people.”
In fact, it is the Messiah’s own life and blood – his own teachings and words, which are the covenant that we embrace. It is by trusting and believing in the Messiah himself that we become co-partakers of his promises – his inheritance of the earth, peace with God and unending life.
Moses and the Temporary World
All that came before the Messiah, were to bring humanity to him; to God’s ultimate covenant through him. That covenant is for everlasting life in the age that is to come. It is for a perfect world which will never end.
God gave the prophet Moses a covenant and promises which centered on a law. Those were given to the children of Israel which came out of slavery in Egypt. That covenant was wonderful and perfectly fulfilled its intended purposes. However, it was designed by God for the temporary world in which they lived.
The era for which God designed that covenant was an age in which sin, human frailties, weaknesses, and death are the norm. Consequently, much of that law was a response to evil. Likewise, it also had many provisions which were about sicknesses, controlling diseases, physical uncleanness, slavery, death, and a host of other such things. Perhaps most problematic for us – that covenant and its law were not to all humanity. They were not to the nations of the world. (Deut. 4:8). They were not even to the fathers – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and others. (Deut. 5:1-3). Rather, they were specifically to those children of Israel who came out of Egypt and their descendants.
In the new – permanent world which comes by the Messiah, there is no need to have animal sacrifices for sins. There will be no sin there. There is no need for provisions about how to treat those who are sick and have various diseases. There will be no sicknesses or diseases there. There is no need for times of purification for the flesh. There will be no uncleanness there. There is no need for requirements about the fair treatment of slaves. There will be no slaves there. There is no need for provisions about touching a dead body – there will be no dead people there.
The New Creation Begins Now
God’s new creation is what humanity and our planet so desperately need. That creation will be fully established on the earth when the Messiah comes again. Then, will be the resurrection of his people! The establishing of his eternal kingdom!
Nevertheless, the new creation had its beginning at the first coming of the Messiah. The great dividing point between the old world and the new came then. That dividing point is the death and resurrection of the Messiah, himself.
When the Messiah died, he became dead to the world that then was. When he was raised from the dead – he became alive to the new creation of God. In fact, Jesus is first in God’s new creation – both in terms of time and priority. It is he who leads the way for the rest of us to enter life in the eternal kingdom of God.
For all who embrace the Messiah as our covenant, our relationship with him and the new creation have already begun. Even now, we are becoming partakers in the new creation:
If anyone is in the Messiah, that person has become a new creation. The old has passed away. Look! Everything has become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
As such, we should count ourselves as no longer a part of the old world. Jesus said to the Father regarding his disciples:
I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (John 17:14).
Though his disciples are “in” the world, they should count themselves as having spiritually died to it. That happens when we embrace Christ as our covenant with God. From that time, we should reckon ourselves as dead to the world – with him.
May it never be that I would boast in anything other than the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal. 6:14).
But we should also count ourselves as alive to the new creation with him:
Don’t you know brothers and sisters that all of us who have been baptized into the Messiah Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as the Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his (Romans 6:3-5).
All of this will be fully realized at the final resurrection of the dead when we are ushered into his eternal kingdom. (1 Thess. 4:13-17; 2 Peter 1:11).
A New Covenant for the New Creation
By embracing the Messiah as our covenant with God, we are already tasting of the life and power of the eternal age to come. While we remain “in him” (John 15:4-6) we are already participating in the new covenant and his new law. It is the law of the Spirit which the Messiah Jesus has now brought to us. This new covenant and its law are designed for God’s new creation.
All of the former prohibitions against evil become obsolete when we embrace the Messiah’s law of love:
Bear one another’s burdens, and by doing so you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the wrongful desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).
If I love my brother as myself, I will not steal his goods. I will not bear false witness against him. I will not steal his wife. I will not defame him to others. If I love my brother as myself, I need no law against killing him. All such laws are made obsolete by Messiah’s law of the Spirit.
In the law which God designed for the old world, he gave people a glimpse of Messiah’s principle of loving God and our fellow man. The children of Israel received an advance look at what was to be the entire basis of Messiah’s eternal law in the kingdom of God.
When we embrace the Christ, we must count ourselves as spiritually dead to the old world – its weaknesses, sin and death. And if we are dead to the old world, the Scriptures tell us we are dead to the law which God designed for that world,
Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime?
In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.
But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit (Rom. 7:1, 4 and 6, NRSV).