Overland Monthly / OV089 - God's Chosen People (VI. Israel's New Covenant)
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OV89 VI—Israel’s New Covenant
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
THE CHOSEN PEOPLE look back to the great Covenant which God made with Abraham, their progenitor—the Covenant confirmed by Almighty God with an oath that his people might have full assurance in respect to its ultimate fulfillment. But Israel recognized that, incidental to the blessing of the world, the Divine Law must be established and mankind must be blessed legally. Hence they point back to Moses and the Covenant which God made with their nation through him. True, there were disappointments connected with that Law Covenant. As a people they had expected much more from it than they ever obtained. They had expected that by obedience to its requirements they themselves would become possessors of everlasting life. They expected additionally that Jehovah God would then use their nation for the blessing of other nations by bringing all the world of mankind under the dominion of the Law of God, that the whole world might receive blessing, restitution and everlasting life through that Law Covenant. Notwithstanding their great disappointment in that they did not gain eternal life themselves—nor national exaltation—they still maintained a hold upon that Covenant and trusted for its blessings yet to come. When in their perplexity they cried to the Lord for relief and for explanation why the blessings hoped for did not come, they received answer from him through the prophets that before those promised favors could be fulfilled, the great Messiah must come. He would be a great Teacher and Ruler like unto Moses, but much more powerful. He would embody in himself all the qualities of Judge, Priest, Mediator, Law-giver and King. Under his superintendence Israel would yet be blessed and become the channel of Divine blessing to every nation. Moses foretold this greater Prophet, saying, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." (#Ac 3:22,23; #De 18:15,19.) Hence the hearts of Israel waited for the Messianic Priest and Kingly Mediator who would do for them abundantly more than Moses had been able to accomplish, though they had profited much through the ministry of their great Law-giver. This antitypical Moses, Messiah, is referred to by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in."—#Mal 3:1.
OV90 A New Mediator.
This sending of the New Mediator implied a New Covenant, or at least a renewal of the Law Covenant under the more efficient Mediator—Messiah. This renewal of the Sinaitic Covenant at the hands of Messiah, the superior Mediator and Helper of the chosen people, is specially referred to in Jeremiah 31. This Prophet was the one through whom the Lord prophetically speaks as though in our day, at the close of Israel’s long period of exile from Divine favor. The time is indicated by the words of verses 28-29, which read: "It shall come to pass that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord. In those days they shall say no more, "The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge, but every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." This preface was sufficiently explicit!
It indicated, not any period in the past of Israel’s history, but the period that is immediately at hand, about to be inaugurated. The "sour grapes" refer to the evil influences of heredity—to the fact that the sins of the parents have influenced and affected the children of all humanity, so that all are sinners in fact, regardless of their intention; for we were all "shapen in iniquity; in sin did our mothers conceive us." (#Ps 51:5.) But the great time of dispensational change is at hand. This condition of heredity shall no longer prevail against the race. Instead of falling further, the rising up, the restitution, shall begin, and only those who willingly and wilfully and knowingly transgress the Divine Law shall be held responsible, and receive the penalty of sin, "Dying, thou shalt die." These prefatory words sufficiently introduce the main feature of this message respecting the New Covenant. We read, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah; not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my Covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord.
But this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for 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 will remember their sin no more."—#Jer 31:31-34. The superiority of this New Covenant to the old one is clearly indicated.
The old one was written merely on tables of stone. The new one the Lord will cause to be gradually written in the hearts of all who come under the beneficent influences of his Kingdom. The old Law needed to be impressed upon them continually, every Sabbath day and oftener; but the New Law would not need to be referred to; for all would know it, since it would be written in the heart and conscience of all, from the.least to the greatest. The Old Law Covenant under Moses as Mediator needed to be revived by a repetition of its sacrifices of bulls and goats every year, in order to cleanse away the sins of the people and to bring them Divine forgiveness for another year. But the New Law Covenant would be exceedingly better in that, by better sacrifices, it would forever do away with the necessity of the yearly repetition of Atonement Day. The sins and iniquities of the people would then be so thoroughly eradicated as to need no further sacrificing.
Waiting for the Great Mediator.
For more than three thousand years Israel has waited for its better Mediator—waited and hoped and prayed. Thank God! we can now proclaim that his advent is nigh at hand; that his power and glory and honor and dignity will be all that they have ever expected—and much more. But he will be a spiritual Mediator, invisible to men. His power and glory will be seen on earth only through their
OV91 operation as he shall cast down the unfit and lift up the worthy, the down-trodden.
This great Mediator will take to himself his great power and reign, as soon as the time appointed by Jehovah shall have arrived. And we have reason to believe that the time of his establishment of his Empire on earth will be at the close of Israel’s Seven Times of disfavor, during or shortly after A.D. 1915, in or just after the great time of world-wide trouble which will then be upon the earth. This great Priest referred to in the Scriptures "the King of Glory," will be as invisible to men as is the Prince of Darkness, Satan, whom the Scriptures recognize as being now the "Prince of this World." In connection with the time of trouble, the Prince of Glory will bind the Prince of Darkness, restraining him from every power to further deceive mankind throughout the glorious Millennial period which will then be inaugurated.
And of course this great spiritual King must have earthly representatives and agents amongst men, even as the Prince of Darkness has used sons of Belial as his servants—many of them unwittingly, ignorantly, serving him. But the Prince of Life will use only the pure, the holy, the reverent, the godly. And none of his servants will be under restraints of ignorance or bonds of superstition. On the contrary, the righteous will then flourish and the evil-doers shall be cut off.—#Pr 11:28; #Ps 37:9.
God has already made selection of those wonderful personages who shall represent Messiah to Israel and to the world. They were selected long ago according to their trials of faith and obedience and patient endurance for righteousness’ sake. They are a noble band. They are all Hebrews—select members of the chosen people, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and all the prophets, besides others too numerous to mention, who through trying ordeals of faith and patience and loyalty demonstrated their love for righteousness, for Truth and for God. These are worthy.
These are God’s "elect" for this great purpose. Nor will it serve the Divine purpose that these should be awakened from the tomb in the condition in which they went down into death. Nay, by their faithfulness under trying conditions they proved to the Divine satisfaction their loyalty to the core. And their reward shall be that they will come forth from the tomb under more favorable conditions than do their fellows. They will come forth perfect in mind and in body, glorious specimens of perfect manhood, such as God approves. They will be examples to Israel and to all the nations of what each member of Adam’s race may attain if he will be obedient to the terms of the Covenant.
The Advantages of the New Covenant.
We have already indicated some of the advantages of the New Covenant. For a thousand years the great Mediator will stand between Divine Justice and Israel to give to all the willing and obedient the blessings of Divine favor—blessings of which they would not be worthy themselves, because imperfect through the fall—blessings intended in God’s Providence to afford them the opportunity of gradually rising up, up, up, to the full perfection of manhood in the likeness of the Ancient Worthies, their instructors and guides, the representatives of Messiah amongst men. Ah, that will be a glorious day for the chosen people! All that they ever dreamed of, and far more, will be their glorious portion. Nor will these wonderful privileges be theirs alone, for, although the Covenant will be made with Israel, the privilege of coming into that Covenant relationship with God will be extended to all nations, permitting all to become Israelites, through faith, through obedience to that Law of the New Covenant. The difficulty with the Mosaic Covenant was that Moses, in important respects, was incompetent as a Mediator. But Messiah will be far more competent to carry out the requirements of the office of Mediator, and will succeed in the great work which Moses undertook but in which he failed. Moses’ work at very most, however, was typical of the perfect work of the Messiah-Mediator. The basis of God’s arrangement with Israel to be his Covenant people was the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement—the blood of bulls and goats. But these at most made satisfaction for only a year. Messiah as the more competent Mediator, in a greater Day of Atonement,
OV92 has offered more acceptable sacrifices to the Father which can and do effect a cancellation of sin for all time and for all people who will come under his New Covenant arrangement. Is it asked how the New Covenant will go into effect with those who are under the Sinaitic Covenant? We answer that the Law feature in both cases is the same; but that the difference between the old Law Covenant and the New (Law) Covenant will be merely the substitution of the new Mediator and his more efficient work for Moses and his typical, insufficient work. The chosen people have had some sad experiences while waiting for the great Messiah-Mediator of their New Covenant. But the glorious results will more than compensate for all disappointments in respect to the delay. Instead of merely living as a nation under Divine favor for a few years and then lapsing into death, as under the Law Covenant, they will, under the arrangements of the New Covenant, obtain life eternal and full human perfection, in which it will be possible for them absolutely and continuously to have approval of the Divine Law. More than this, their mission as the agents of God under the New Covenant, for the blessing of all the Gentiles, will mean the bringing of the Gentiles up to the same glorious standards of human perfection and eternal life under the blessed arrangement of the Messiah-Mediator. Surely, then, all who love the Divine promises to the chosen people and the New Covenant through which those promises will be fulfilled, may well pray, O Lord, thy Kingdom come!
Messiah, come quickly! End the reign of sin and death! Exalt thy chosen people and bless all the families of the earth!
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
WHEN the morning paints the skies, And the birds their songs renew, Let me from my slumbers rise, Saying, "What would Jesus do?"
When I ply my daily task, And the round of toil pursue, Let me every moment ask, "What would Jesus do?"
Would the foe my heart beguile, Whispering thoughts and words untrue?
Let me to his subtlest wile Answer, "What would Jesus do?"
Countless mercies from above Day by day my pathway strew, Father, I would prove my love Asking, "What would Jesus do?"
Ever let Thy love, O God, Fill my spirit through and through, While I tread where He hath trod, Whispering, "What would Jesus do?"