Who is Included in the "New Covenant"?
Contributed by a brother who understands and appreciates the New Covenant.
The issue of the New Covenant, and who's included, has been examined
many times that I have seen. However, a brother that I've come to
know has a saying that keeps me grounded... "The truth is simple, it
only becomes complicated when we deviate from it". Back while Jesus
was on earth, we know how religious leaders were in charge of
teaching the Jews the law. However, we also have come to understand
that Jesus condemned them for corrupting that law, by adding to it
abundantly. (Matthew 15:1-6)
To better understand the New Covenant, we should review the Abrahamic Covenant, and the subsequent Law Covenant Jehovah had made with the nation of Israel:
“I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice." (Genesis 22:17, 18)
It is good to remember that up to this point Jehovah's cryptic promise about the "seed" that was to crush the head of the serpent has not yet been expanded upon. (Gen. 3:15) Now, Jehovah, "the One telling from the beginning the finale", has stated that this promised seed will come through Abraham's lineage. This promised seed will "take possession of the gate of his enemies" and, the most important point of all: all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves because of this seed. Additionally, Jehovah promised to multiply Abraham's seed "like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore".
Of course, Abraham's seed multiplied greatly, through his grandson, Jacob, who had 12 sons. Jacob's name was later changed to Israel, hence we have the 12 tribes of Israel. Under Joseph, this Abrahamic family was protected, and grew exponentially over the course of 400 years. (Genesis 15:13)
After their miraculous escape from Pharaoh's army by Jehovah's hand, Jehovah made a covenant with the nation of Israel:
"And now if YOU will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then YOU will certainly become my special property out of all [other] peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me. And YOU yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the sons of Israel." (Exodus 19:5, 6)
However, if we were to stop right here, one would ask: "Didn't Jehovah promise that all nations will bless themselves by means of this seed?" Yes, he did, which brings us to an important point. Jehovah has always intended on turning his attention to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. It was not predicated on whether or not the Jews were faithful.
“Look! There are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I will conclude with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant; not one like the covenant that I concluded with their forefathers in the day of my taking hold of their hand to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt, ‘which covenant of mine they themselves broke, although I myself had husbandly ownership of them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” “For this is the covenant that I shall conclude with the house of Israel after those days,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people.” “And they will no more teach each one his companion and each one his brother, saying, ‘KNOW Jehovah!’ for they will all of them know me, from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Notice the reason why Jehovah instituted this New Covenant. True, Jehovah did mention that the Israelites did break the first covenant, but that was not the reason why he is concluding a new one. This new one, as Jehovah says, will allow permanent forgiveness of their sins. Remember, the original covenant had two very big limitations:
(1) It only applied to the natural Jews, but Jehovah's original promise to Abraham regarding his seed would benefit ALL mankind.
(2) As the Apostle Paul noted, the old Law Covenant, with the sacrifices that were offered through the Levite priesthood, does not allow for complete forgiveness of sins, but instead pointed out the need for Christ's perfect sacrifice:
"For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things, [men] can never with the same sacrifices from year to year which they offer continually make those who approach perfect. Otherwise, would the [sacrifices] not have stopped being offered, because those rendering sacred service who had been cleansed once for all time would have no consciousness of sins anymore? To the contrary, by these sacrifices there is a reminding of sins from year to year, for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away." (Hebrews 10:1-4)
So this New Covenant was not instituted for the sole benefit of the 144,000 chosen to rule with Christ, but rather, it is what allows all faithful mankind to have their sins permanently forgiven, and declared righteous by means of their faith. (Galatians 3:7-9)
In Hebrews chapter 9, Paul compared the two covenants. Here are a few excerpts, showing the superiority and subsequent need for the New Covenant:
"However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance [for us]. For if the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies to the extent of cleanness of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to [the] living God?" (Hebrews 9:11-14)
We further read:
"Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.[a] 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:15-22; English Standard Version―ESV Footnote: a. Hebrews 9:15 The Greek word means both covenant and will; also verses 16, 17)
As we can see, the purpose of the New Covenant, is the redemption of all mankind, be it Jew or Gentile, anointed or non-anointed. The Old Covenant Jehovah had made with nation of Israel was voided, serving its purpose of pointing the Jews to Christ. (Galatians3:24)
Under this New Covenant, faithful mankind's sins are forgiven permanently, something that was not possible until Jesus' death as Paul mentioned. Through Jehovah's mercy and love for the entire human race, he has opened a way out of the turmoil that Adam placed his offspring in due to his disobedience. (John 3:16; Romans 5:12)
As Paul stated, under this New Covenant validated by Jesus' perfect blood, all faithful Christians are finally able to worship Jehovah with a clean conscience. Furthermore, as you can see, there is no mention of these provisions being exclusive to the anointed ones.
Jesus states that his blood validates the New Covenant: "This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf." (Luke 22:20)
In Revelation, John's vision of the "great crowd" that survives the Great Tribulation references Jesus' words: "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple…" (Revelation 7:14b, 15a)
Consider this final point: Did you notice a parallel in John's vision, and what Paul stated in Hebrews 9:14? Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are all able to render "sacred service" that is acceptable to Jehovah. Or in other words, it is impossible to worship Jehovah without being part of the New Covenant! This fact alone precludes the notion that only the anointed are included in this covenant, for such a premise would mean that the vast majority of God's people are unable to worship him. Jesus' perfect blood gives all of Jehovah's people a righteous and clean standing (depicted by the white robes); and they are all "in his temple," which would be impossible unless they are in the New Covenant. The same was true with the physical tabernacle, where only those who were in the covenant mediated by Moses, and were clean in Jehovah's eyes, could worship God acceptably. (Exodus 30:17-21; Leviticus 22:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18)