“For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:27)
God is not in covenant relationship with the brute creation; to them He has made no promises, although He has made a general provision for their needs. But we may understand that with all His intelligent creation He has a covenant, or agreement, to the effect that so long as they will do His will they shall possess life. Because of violation of that arrangement, the fallen angels were cast off, reserved in “chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6), to receive their final punishment. When Adam and Eve were disobedient, they violated this covenant, and came under the sentence of death. “But they like men [‘Adam’ in Hebrew] have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.” (Hos. 6:7)
Because of Adam’s transgression, the world is not in covenant relationship with God in any sense of the word. On the contrary, they are aliens, strangers, foreigners. (Eph. 2:11-13) God brought Abraham back into covenant relationship to some extent, but not fully so. To the nation of Israel He made certain promises in the form of a Law Covenant; whoever kept that Covenant would demonstrate worthiness to receive the blessing God promised to Abraham – that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3)
Moses was the mediator of the Law Covenant, for it was impossible to make the Covenant with Israel directly. Although they were unable to keep that Covenant because of inherited weaknesses of the flesh, it brought them a measure of blessing, as St. Paul points out. (Rom. 7:7) While it lifted Israel above the degradation into which the Gentiles were falling, nevertheless it did not bring the blessing for which they longed. It did not remove the death penalty – it did not give them life.
In the clear light now shining for the people of God, we see that the Law Covenant was only a type of a better Covenant to be made with Israel after the Church of Christ has been glorified; that Moses himself was only a type of a better Mediator; that the sacrifices of the Law were only types of the “better sacrifices” (Heb. 9:23), and that their priesthood was a type of the Royal Priesthood of the Gospel Age. (Heb. 7:27)
The words covenant and promise are used synonymously in the Scriptures. The children of Israel were under the Abrahamic Covenant long before they entered into the Law Covenant. They are still under those Covenants. St. Paul says, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Rom. 11:2) Then he proceeds to say that after the Elect Church has been gathered from among the Gentiles, the favor of God will return to Israel; for they are still beloved for the “fathers’ sakes.” The fathers of Israel are the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews are, therefore, under the Abrahamic Covenant. (Rom. 11:25-28)
ISRAEL’S COVENANT RELATIONSHIP ACTUAL
An actual covenant relationship is one that is fully established – not merely suggested, or proposed, but accomplished. As Israel approached Mt. Sinai, God proposed to make a covenant with them. When all was ready, the Covenant was made through Moses as the mediator. The work of mediation was twofold; the first part was the sprinkling of the Law, representing the satisfaction of Justice; the second part was the sprinkling of the people, representing the bringing of the people into covenant relationship with God. That Covenant was then fully made, and has remained in operation ever since. (Exod. 24:3-8; Heb. 9:19)
God made a covenant with the Israelites which was to last for centuries; however, it was good for only one year at a time. For the first year the people were in harmony with God, but at the end of that time the cancellation of sins ceased; for the blood of bulls and of goats cannot take away sin. The whole arrangement was only a type. At the end of that first year, the Day of Atonement was inaugurated, and sacrifices were made for another year. The fact that the Atonement Day sacrifices were repeated year by year shows that they were efficacious for only a year at a time, and so never really took away sin. (Heb. 10:1-4)
After the Day of Atonement, the people made various kinds of offerings. Some of these seem to typify the presentation of the worshiper himself to God, as an indication that he wished to do the will of God. Others were for sin-offerings, indicating that the worshiper realized that there had been a measure of willfulness in his conduct. So rigid are the requirements of the Law Covenant that only one Jew, the Lord Jesus Christ, was able to keep them. This He could do because He was perfect, and the Law is the measure of a perfect man’s full ability.
The Israelites were in covenant relationship with God through Moses, the mediator of their Covenant, as demonstrated by the fact that Moses said, “He declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments.” (Deut. 4:13) Therefore the Jew is bound by the Law so long as he lives. (Rom. 7:1) Although the Law Covenant is not intended to be an everlasting arrangement, the only Jews who have been able to get from under it are those who have come into Christ; the remainder cannot rid themselves of it. But the time draws near when the Lord God will make a New Covenant with them through a new Mediator, The Christ, who will assist them to keep the Law satisfactorily and thus to be delivered from the evil features of their Covenant.
At the close of the Babylonian Captivity, the Prophet Daniel asked the Lord for an explanation of the prophecies relating to His people. The answer to his prayer is given in detail: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Dan. 9:24-27) All these things were to be done in those seventy weeks. Of this period of time, we find that the seventieth week was the most critical, for it was the week during which Messiah was to confirm the Covenant.
THE COVENANT CONFIRMED FOR ONE WEEK
During that period of seven years, God bestowed special favor upon the Jews. At the beginning of that week of years, our Lord, who was then thirty years of age, presented Himself to God as a sacrifice. This presentation was the first feature of the antitypical Atonement Day work, and corresponded to the sacrifice of the bullock in the type. Our Lord began the antitypical sacrifices; as St. Paul says, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Heb. 10:9) Our Lord there began to take away the type and to establish the antitype and during His ministry He fulfilled various features of the types. At Calvary His work of sacrificing Himself was finished, and the Divine acceptance of that sacrifice was manifested. Thus He took His place as the antitypical Moses.
Many other features of that antitypical Atonement Day work are not yet completed. It was a part of the Atonement for the High Priest to offer the Lord’s goat and to take its blood into the Most Holy and to sprinkle it there. It was also a part of the Atonement Day work for him to come out and confess the sins of the people on the scape-goat, and a still further part for him to bless the people.
The Prophet’s statement that in the midst of the week Messiah would cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease (Dan. 9:27), implies that our Lord would there terminate the typical work for Israel as a people; they were rejected from Divine favor when they crucified Him. A few days before His death, our Lord had said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:38)
This rejection of the Jewish nation does not indicate the end of their Law Covenant. To the Church of Christ, who have been given the privilege of understanding the deep things of the Spirit of God, it appears that the efficacy of the typical sacrifices, which were offered year by year continually, ceased at the death of our Lord; and that since that time, as a nation they have had no Divine favor; but that the only ones who have had favor since then are those who have come out of Moses into Christ. The typical sacrifices continued until the time when Christ died, for the reason that Jesus Himself was under the Law, a part of which He fulfilled, and no feature of which can pass away until all has been fulfilled. (Matt. 5:17-18)
After our Lord’s ascension, it was possible for greater work to be done than ever before. The work of our Lord was cut short nationally, but it increased the opportunity of the Jews individually. While there were only about five hundred Jews who believed on Jesus until His death, thousands were added afterward. (1 Cor. 15:6; Acts 2:41) During the three and a half years following our Lord’s death, God did not recognize the Gentiles, for He had said that He would give seventy weeks to the Jews, and therefore He allowed no favor to go to the Gentiles until that period had expired.
After the expiration of the seventy weeks of years set apart for Israel, the Gospel began to go to the Gentiles, to gather from among them “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:13-18) The antitypical Atonement work has been progressing during this Gospel Age. Our Lord has already offered the antitypical bullock in the sacrifice of Himself. Since Pentecost, He has been offering the antitypical goat – the Church class. As soon as this work has been finished, the blood will be taken into the Most Holy, to sprinkle the Mercy-Seat and to “make atonement for all the people,” as in the type.
THE COVENANT OF SACRIFICE
The Abrahamic Covenant, as it was given to Abraham, is a complete covenant; its provisions include all mankind, for it reads, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 28:14; Gen. 12:3) Its promise is to THE SEED: (1) Jesus; (2) The Christ, Head and Body (the Church); (3) the earthly seed through them. Its provisions extend to all who have the faith of Abraham. The promise of God was that a blessing shall come to all the families of the earth. This promise was confirmed by an oath on the part of God, so that by two immutable things – the oath and the promise of God – the heirs of the promise may be sure of its fulfilment. (Heb. 6:13-18)
The Seed of Abraham, which is to bless all the families of the earth, was intended to be a Spiritual Seed. The only way by which natural men could become the Spiritual Seed was by the sacrifice of the earthly nature and the attaining to the spirit nature. The opportunity for making this sacrifice was first given to our Lord Jesus. By carrying out His covenant of sacrifice, He became the Head of the Seed which is to bring the blessing. (Psa. 50:5; Psa. 40:7-10) The selection of this Spiritual Seed has been the work of the Gospel Age. With the Seed all gathered, the work of blessing the natural seed will begin, and through them the blessing will subsequently spread to all nations, to as many as are willing to accept the Divine favor.
The Church will always be in covenant relationship with the Father. The fact that He calls them sons implies that they are bound to Him. (John 1:12) Every father is in covenant relationship with his children, and they with him. Every child has a responsibility to the father, and the father to the child. The fact that God has received the Lord Jesus and the Church as sons (Heb. 3:6) signifies that they are in covenant relationship with Him. St. Paul says, “We are the children of God: And if children, then heirs.” (Rom. 8:16-17) His statement not only implies that relationship, but proves it; for the sons have a right to the things which the father has provided for his children.
All who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6), all whose souls long for God “as the hart panteth after the water brooks” (Psa. 42:1), all who having found Him have consecrated themselves to Him – these have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with their spirit that they are sons of God. (Rom. 8:14-16) As anointed sons these can discover in themselves the worthy traits of true sons – loyalty, zeal, energy, discretion, faithfulness, obedience.
There are, however, conditions attached to this covenant of sacrifice; there are certain requirements which must be fulfilled. All must become partakers of the sufferings of Christ, if they would participate with Him in the glories to follow.
COVENANT RELATIONSHIP TO BE RE-ESTABLISHED WITH HUMANITY
In Jer. 31:31-33, we read, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah . . . After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” We understand the expression “those days,” to refer to Israel’s “seven times” of punishment promised by the Lord for the violation of their Law Covenant. (Lev. 26:18) This New Covenant is to be made with Israel alone; for God never purposed to make a covenant with the Gentiles. The New Covenant will properly be so called because it will take the place of the old Law Covenant, which God made with Israel and which was broken by them. After Israel has been fully established under their New Covenant, all other nations (all peoples) will be privileged to come into this relationship. (Isa. 2:2-3)
Since the people are not worthy to enter directly into relationship with God, the New Covenant must have a Mediator. A covenant does not go into operation until after it has been fully mediated. The Mediator of the New Covenant is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church, His Body. The Scriptures indicate that the Mediator is complete or nearly complete.
When Moses mediated the Law Covenant, he first offered sacrifices, then took the blood of the animals, dividing it into two parts, and sprinkled both the Book of the Law and the people. Throughout the Gospel Age, our Lord has been offering the great antitypical sacrifices of Himself and His Church. As soon as He will have finished making application of the blood, He will have made satisfaction for the sins of the world. This act will correspond to the sprinkling of the Book by Moses. Divine Justice having accepted this arrangement, the Mediator will antitypically sprinkle the people; that is, He will show them how to come back into full accord with God. (Exod. 24:4-8; Heb. 9:19-24)
The New Covenant will begin to swallow up the old Law Covenant as soon as the Kingdom is established. Gradually the light will come to all who love righteousness and hate iniquity. Sprinkled from all sympathy with evil, they will make their declaration of full loyalty to God. In due time this light will spread to all kindreds and tongues and peoples. (Isa. 60:3)
CHANGE OF HEART IN THE MILLENNIUM
Speaking of the New Covenant, the Prophet Jeremiah says, “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34) The sins and iniquities of Israel will no longer be remembered against them. Christ will have appeared on their behalf and made satisfaction for their sins. They will then be as free from original sin as the Gospel Church are; the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for all. (1 John 2:2)
The Prophet Ezekiel tells us that during the next age the hearts of mankind will be changed: “Thus saith the Lord God . . . A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:22-27) This change of heart is entirely aside from the making of the New Covenant. It will take a thousand years to remove the stoniness out of the hearts of mankind and to make them stand without a Mediator. Those who receive everlasting life must attain this condition; for all of God’s creatures who would live forever must keep His Law perfectly.
Because of their imperfection, God will not recognize the people during the Millennium. All of their dealings will be through the Mediator. The very moment when the merit of Christ is applied for the world is the same moment when they will be turned over to the Mediator. They will then be in covenant relationship with God, but only through the Mediator. Only when they have reached human perfection can they enter into this relationship directly with the Father. When they are brought up to perfection at the end of the thousand years, they will be delivered up to the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24) God will then receive them as sons, heirs of the earthly blessings which He has provided for mankind – the things given to Adam.
The New Covenant will be everlasting; and as it is proper to say that Moses mediated the Law Covenant, so we may say that Christ will mediate the New Covenant. But it would not be proper to say that Moses is now the Mediator of the Law Covenant; for a covenant does not need a mediator after it has been mediated. So the New Covenant will need no Mediator after the thousand years. But the title “Mediator” may belong to Christ to all eternity, just as one who has been a judge may always retain the title of “Judge.”
At the end of the thousand years, when the Messiah will have accomplished His work of Restitution, He will cease to act as Mediator. But the Covenant will continue to stand; for if that relationship with God were to be removed from the people, they would have no blessing of everlasting life. That blessing depends upon covenant relationship with God. Under the favorable conditions of the New Covenant, whosoever will may have an opportunity to become the children of The Christ, the Seed of Abraham.
At the conclusion of the thousand years, the willing and the obedient receive the commendation, “Well done,” and will be accepted as fit for the condition of everlasting life on the human plane. Those who prove to be unworthy of life will be destroyed in the Second Death. (Acts 3:23)
(Drawn from Reprint 5162, edited and condensed to fit the space.)
KNOW OF THE DOCTRINE
“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:16-17)
We are living in a day when the very word doctrine seems to offend the majority of Christian people. Each denomination realizes that its own system of doctrines is imperfect, unsatisfactory and indefensible, while believing the same to be true of all other doctrines. So by mutual consent, Christian people seem disposed to henceforth and forever ignore doctrines, believing that if after twenty centuries they are thus confused, the matter never was clear and never will be.
This is a great mistake; the doctrines of Christ, as presented by the Great Teacher and His Apostles, comprised a great message, of which none of them were ashamed. The difficulty is that we gradually fell away from those doctrines, putting darkness for light and light for darkness, and thus gradually got into the spirit of Babylon, and into the spirit of bondage to human traditions and creeds. Instead of shunning doctrines, we should realize that they are the very things needed to scatter darkness and superstition and draw all God’s people together.
The doctrines of Christ and the Apostles are what we need to inspire us to break down all the creed fences that have so long separated us in various denominational folds, all of which are contrary to the Divine arrangement; for God has but the one fold for all His “sheep” of this age, as He will have another fold for the Restitution “sheep” of the next age – the Messianic Kingdom Age.
If as God’s people we put away sectarianism and the creed spectacles of our forefathers, if we go with pure, sincere hearts to the Lord and His Word, there is no doubt we will there find again the “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all,” and one “church of the firstborn,” whose names are “written in heaven.” (Eph. 4:5-6; Heb. 12:23)
The time seems long to all of us, even though we remember that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” (2 Pet. 3:8) It is enough to stagger our faith unless we hold firmly to the Divine promise and remember that God confirmed it with an Oath. By these two immutable, unchangeable things, the Divine Word and the Divine Oath, we know that the Seed of Abraham is to be developed, and that eventually it is to bless all the families of the earth. It is the Divine will that we allow our faith in this great promise of God to be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Heb. 6:17-19)
THE DOCTRINES OF CHRIST
What we all need as God’s people is to put away human theories and other gospels and take hold afresh on the Gospel of Christ. These other gospels (for example Theosophy, Evolution, New Theology, etc.) are other messages of hope, aside from the one which the Bible presents. These all hold out a different gospel from that which Jesus and the Apostles presented; the one that was given to us for our sanctification, and through the holding fast of which, and the obedience to The Faith, we are to be saved and given a share with Messiah in His glorious Empire of the world.
The doctrines of Christ are the doctrines presented in the Bible by Jesus and His mouthpieces, the Apostles. These doctrines relate to the Church and to the world, and God’s blessing for each; they relate to sin and its forgiveness; the terms of that forgiveness, the basis of that forgiveness – the death of Jesus – and the hope of that forgiveness, release from Divine condemnation, fellowship with God, and everlasting life obtained through resurrection of the dead.
Some will inquire why it is so difficult to understand the doctrines of Christ. Why are there hundreds of different denominations of Christians? The simple explanation is that when, shortly after the death of the Apostles, the Church began to have a measure of prosperity, the Adversary came in and sowed the seeds of false doctrines, using human lips and human pens in his service, through pride and ambition. The darkness became so great that today we speak of the period as the “Dark Ages.”
The various denominations of Christendom are evidence of honesty, perseverance and love of the Truth, because our forefathers, who made these creeds, were each trying to get more and more out of the dark and back to the true light. They all made the mistake, however, of holding too much to the creeds and theories of the past. Let us not make the same mistake; let us cut loose entirely from every authority outside the Word of God. We should be glad to have the assistance of whoever can help us understand God’s Word, but we cannot acknowledge as inspired or authoritative the teachings of the “fathers” of the early times, however conscientious they may have been. We cannot recognize that any such were authorized successors to the Apostles.
God, who foretold through the Prophets this long period of darkness, and who has blessed and guided His saintly children throughout it, without removing all of their blindness, has promised that with the end of this age will come a great blessing and enlightenment upon His people, when the “wise virgins” will find their lamps burning brightly, and be able to understand and appreciate the deep things of God: “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) In the end of this age the curtain is to be drawn, and the true light is to shine forth, scattering all the darkness. (1 John 2:8) We are in the dawning of this new age today, and therefore may see much more clearly than our forefathers the Divine character and Plan for human salvation.
The Master gives us the key to a clear knowledge of His doctrines, namely, that the student must be fully consecrated to God and fully desirous of knowing His will and His plan. In order to see God’s light, to see the Truth from the Divine standpoint, we must draw near to God in the spirit of our minds, consecrated in our heart. We must will to do His will.
But what does this mean? God’s will represents actual perfection of thought and word and deed, toward God, toward our fellows in the Body of Christ, and toward all mankind. This is the Divine Standard set up, but we are no more able to fulfil its demands than were the Jews. As St. Paul declares, “Ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17) We all have weakness of the flesh, frailty and imperfection as does the world; the best that we can do is to will to do right, and to the best of our ability carry out that covenant with the Lord to do His will. At the very best all will come short of perfection.
But for those who have come into harmony with God through Christ – for those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice – for those who have Jesus for their Advocate, a provision has been made whereby the willing, all desiring to do the Divine will, and endeavoring to do so, are counted as righteous – as though they did the Divine will perfectly. It is to these that the promises of our text apply, that they shall know to do the Divine will, shall know whether Jesus merely made up these teachings of Himself, or whether He was the active agent of the Father in what He did and taught.
Shall we not determine to give our hearts, our wills, fully to the Lord – determine in our wills to do God’s will? If so, following the instructions of the Word of God we shall doubtless be blessed and enabled fully to know, to appreciate, to understand, the doctrines of Christ – the deep things of God, which are revealed by the Spirit of God.
(Drawn from Reprint 5136, edited and condensed to fit the space.)
 See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume II, Chapter III, where it is shown that this week began October, A.D. 29 and closed October, A.D. 36 – from the beginning of our Lord’s ministry until the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit.