For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 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– not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:7-13)
Reading this passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews about the New Covenant, it is so clear that this New Covenant is indeed different and supersedes the Old Covenant which God made with His people in the Sinai.
Not only this is clear already in the wording of this new covenant by Jeremiah when the Lord specifically says that this New Covenant would “not be according to the covenant that He made with their fathers in the day when He took them out of the land of Egypt” but to this the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews adds: ‘In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.‘
It is in the light of this passage therefore quite amazing to hear and see today several teachers and Christian authors say the very opposite of this passage, thus trying to rewrite the Scriptures to prove that the Old Covenant is not obsolete and surpassed but that we are still bound to keep it whereas after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD by Titus, even for those who would be willing to do so this has become impossible without a Temple, sacrifices, High Priest, etc.
So after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD by Titus it became virtually impossible to conduct one’s life according to all the laws and precepts of the Old Covenant. What did become possible though was to live a Jewish life based on the Talmud and the Gemarrah, which became later the authoritative interpretation by the sages – bundled together in the “Shulchan Aruch”, which held out to the Jews what would be still possible for them to fulfill to be called an orthodox Jew.
But with the New Covenant comes a new rule which our Lord thus expresses:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35-35)
And the Apostle Paul adds:
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
And later in his epistle to the Galatians:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:1-5, 14)
May we all thus make this love our aim in love for our Lord!
Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center