This is the fourth question I’m asking and answering about Jeremiah 31:31-40: When was the New Covenant fulfilled?
The question is somewhat misleading. If you’ve been tracking so far with what we’ve read from Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36, then you know that the answer is: the New Covenant has not been fulfilled yet in its entirety.
Jesus told His disciples that “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). As with every covenant, sacrifice was required, and this time Jesus Himself provided the sacrifice rather than grain or goats or bulls. The apostles certainly understood that the Holy Spirit not only was moving, but was also indwelling believers after Pentecost. The covenant was purchased and it appeared that it was time for the covenant to be completed.
After His resurrection and before Pentecost Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God to His disciples. They asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), as in, Is now the time for the Spirit and the land and our King? Jesus said No. They would be His witnesses, but they did not get to know “the times or the seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). But Jesus also did not say, “Actually, guys, now that you mentioned it, it’s going to be different than you’re thinking….”
The death of Jesus started to bear new covenant sort of fruit in Acts, and we continue to be fruit of His promise as well as declare His saving work among the Gentiles. There is an element of “mystery” in this as Gentiles share in some of the benefits of the promise. But the promise was not made to us—Gentiles, we—the Church—do not inherit the land of Israel, and the house of Israel must still be part of His plan or else the word of His promises cannot be trusted.
In answering these questions we’ve also answered the Who, What, Where, and Why questions of the new covenant. We’re missing the When, and some of the means to the How.
Dispies believe that these all promises to Israel—the nation—will be fulfilled when Christ reigns on earth for a thousand years before Gog and Magog and the ends of the earth come to battle and lose. Then the devil and the beast and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire and the great white throne judgement will take place (Revelation 20). Then comes a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21). That is the general When. In an upcoming post I’ll try to show how we are part of God’s means to the How.
My point for now is not to describe in what ways we as non-Jews partake of the new covenant. We do partake of it in Christ, we do partake of it by faith, we are grafted in like branches as Paul wrote in Romans 11. God has granted repentance, and new hearts, to the Gentiles (Acts 11L18). But God’s grace to extend the saving blood of Christ among the Gentiles does not nullify His guarantee to apply it to the house of Israel. Except for a remnant, their hearts are still hard and they are currently still rejecting their Messiah. This must change in the future, or else God has redefined the “house of Israel.” And if God has redefined that, what else has He redefined?
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