Most of you are probably aware that the New Covenant is not just a New Testament idea. It is actually found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 31:31-33 it says, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”(NIV)
Did you notice who it was for? The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah. So if this covenant is to be for us we have to be a part of Israel. Are we? Paul tells us we are in Ephesians 2:11-13 & 19-20, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”(NIV) The New Covenant is for us because we have been made a part of Israel by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, the covenants are also for us, all the covenants of promise.
Is not the New Covenant a covenant of promise? But what does the New Covenant do? It puts the Law on our minds and our hearts. Is it the same Law as the Law of Moses? Yes, however, it is different in this respect, it is not just on tablets of stones as it was in the days of Moses, it is put on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people.
Ezekiel gives us another glimpse of this. Ezekiel 36:26-27 states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”(NIV) It is the job of the Spirit to help us be obedient to the Law of God.
It is our faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross that allows the Holy Spirit to be given to us as a deposit guarenteeing what is to come. That is why Jesus could say that the cup of redemption at His last Passover was the New Covenant in His blood.
Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak in terms of this making Him our God and us His people. As for Ephesians we are part of Israel based on the APOSTLES and PROPHETS with CHRIST JESUS as the cornerstone of our faith. Our faith is not just a New Testament faith.
Is it any wonder that John in 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Sin is the breaking of the Law. We reject the moving of the Spirit when we disobey the very thing He wants us to obey, the Law. There is power in obedience and it leads to righteousness and holiness according to Paul in Romans chapter 6. Let us not be slaves to sin and death, but to obedience. Let us live as citizens of Israel and members of the Covenant community.
Striving to obey the God I love through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit,
We have already discussed how Jesus went through the Kiddushin, the ceremony and period of sanctification or a time of setting oneself apart for another. As we said the Kiddushin consists of the Ketubah (marriage contract), Mohar (bridal price), Kiddush (the cup), the seal (The Holy Spirit), and the removal of the veil. Remember that for us the order is a little different and this post will begin the process of us looking at our part of the Kiddushin.
Our first step within the Kiddushin is our response to Yeshua’s Mohar, His bridal price. We must accept His acquisition, His payment, in order for it to be applied to our lives. We see this played out in Genesis when Rebekah had to be willing to accept the price offered for her and go with Abraham’s servant to her husband Isaac.
Jesus has bought us with a price and it was not a price of money, yet it cost Him everything. Remember, we have already looked at Isaiah 52:3, which tells us we were redeemed without money.
In Hebrews 9: 12 & 14-15 it says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption…How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”(NIV)
When we went through these steps as Yeshua our Messiah went through them we spoke of the communion cup that He gave to His disciples and that it was the third cup, the cup of redemption. We are all guilty of breaking the first covenant with our sin and so there needed to be a new covenant for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. I Peter 1:18-19 told us that He redeemed us with His blood and Romans 3:22-25a again said, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”(NIV)
We must have faith in His blood. We must accept His Mohar. We must believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We must believe in Him!
Galatians 3:14 says, “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”(NIV) Also, in Romans 10:13 it says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(NIV)
Therefore, when we accept His Mohar it redeems us and cleanses even the filthiness of our conscious. We then receive the inheritance promised to those who believe and are saved. Never forget, that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22 & Leviticus 17:11). So that by faith, by calling on His Name we (both Jew and Gentile) might receive the Spirit. The Spirit is our seal. This leads us directly into our next post where we will be discussing The Seal.
The betrothal ceremony is known as the Kiddushin, which is both a ceremony and period of sanctification. It is a legal ceremony. It is the legal ceremony. The betrothal designates the bride and groom only for each other and forges the connection between them.
Many of us know that Joseph and Mary were betrothed and would have needed a certificate of divorce in order to break it off. Why? Because they were betrothed. Since this betrothal was a legal action and not just a promise of marriage, as we think of an engagement today, it was legally binding. Once they went through the kiddushin they are legally husband and wife.
So let’s learn what all this Kiddushin entails, shall we? The first part of the Kiddushin, or betrothal ceremony, is the signing of the Ketubah. The Ketubah is the contract for the bride, the bride that was chosen by the father of the groom.
In the mind of the Jews, the Torah, the books of Moses, is a marriage contract between God and the people of Israel.
Now isn’t that interesting? They see the Old Testament as a marriage contract between God and His people, Israel.
In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus says this, “”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”(NIV)
He is saying “I did not come to abolish my Ketubah. I came to fulfill it. It’s mine. My contract for my bride. It’s mine! And I came to fulfill it. I am under contract to do so.” You see He came to fulfill His Ketubah.
Consider if Jesus had come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. He would require a certificate of divorce. He would be breaking His covenant, unwilling to fulfill His role as the Bridegroom. If that were the case, there would be no need for the Cross!
Let’s take a look at Jeremiah 31:31-34 where it says, “”The time is coming,” declares the LORD,”when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.””(NIV)
Not only did Jesus come to fulfill His Ketubah, He also came to write a new one. A new covenant that would be precious and holy. In John 17:17 Yeshua says this, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”(NIV) Now the word “sanctify” means “to make holy”. It also means “set apart”. Jesus is asking that we be set apart by our Ketubah, by His word. Set His Bride apart for Him.
This new covenant would allow the old covenant to be written on our hearts. Remember He did not come to abolish but to fulfill. Also remember that on the road to Emmaus He spoke of how the Old Covenant was really about Him. The New Covenant would take the Old and put it on the hearts of His people thereby sanctifying them, setting them truly apart for Himself.
The signing of the Ketubah is also very important because it has to be witnessed. It is not valid if He only signs it Himself. It has to be signed by witnesses, ie. He has to have co-signers.
Look at John 5:31-39 where Jesus says, “”If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.””(NIV) (The KJV uses the word witness instead of testify).
So in the signing of the Ketubah, the witnesses testify in essence saying, “This is who your bridegroom is, this is the one your Ketubah is about.” As we see in the text, the two witnesses are John the Baptist and the Father Himself.
John the Baptist was strictly for our benefit. He is the one, as far as earthly terms are concerned, that helped start the story of the bridegroom. So, that is the first part of the Kiddushin, the Ketubah or the marriage contract and it’s signing.
The second part is the Kiddush, you can see where they got the word Kiddushin, from the Kiddush or the cup. The cup is a prayer of sanctification.
Remember the Kiddushin is a ceremony and period of sanctification. The cup is actually a prayer of sanctification. What’s the cup all about? His blood. His blood.
So let’s take a look at the cup. Exodus 24:6-8 talks about the blood of the covenant, the Old Covenant. The blood of the Old Covenant was the blood of goats and calves.
But God said that the Old covenant was broken. So He was going to make a New Covenant. Oh the precious cup that it will take to bring sanctification.
Matthew 26:27-29 states, “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.””(Matthew 26:27-29 NIV)
In this passage, Jesus is referring to the third cup of the Passover meal which is called the cup of redemption.
The 4th cup is the cup of Praise. Jesus had to fulfill the cup of redemption first. It was the blood of the Covenant. His blood is the foundation of the Covenant. Hebrews 10:29 tells us that the blood of the Covenant sanctifies, it sets apart.
However, within the Passover ceremony – which Yeshua was celebrating that particular night – there is also a cup of sanctification. Remember, the Kiddushin is a ceremony of sanctification or a setting apart, complete with the cup of sanctification, the Kiddush. This is the first cup.
The cup of Plagues – representing the judgement of sin – is the second cup. The cup of sanctification, the first cup, is the one in which Jesus says, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”(Luke 22:17-18 NIV)
At this time of the Kiddush, at the taking of the cup, they have the blessing of the cup and it reads like this within the Kiddushin ceremony:
Holy One of Blessing, Your presence fills creation forming the fruit of the vine.
And then directly following that is the Birakat Yirusim or Betrothal Blessing and it reads:
Praised are you Adonai, Ruler of the Universe, Who has made us holy through your commandments and has commanded us concerning sexual propriety (a warning to the husbands) forbidding women who are merely betrothed, but permitting women who are married to us through Huppah and Kiddushin. (This is the part I love) Blessed are you Adonai, Who makes Your people Israel holy (sets them apart, makes them holy) through Huppah and Kiddushin.
At this point, finally at this point, we have the actual drinking of the cup. There is the cup of sanctification with the blessings and after the blessings comes the drinking of the cup or the taking in of that prayer of sanctification, that is only accomplished by His blood.
And of course, I’m going to say a word at this point about the Bride because it is at this point that the veil comes back. She has to drink of the cup and so the veil must come back. Guess what… we have an unveiling and there is someone specific who does it.
II Corinthians 3:13-16 says, “We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”(NIV)
Jesus removes the veil. That is His privilege. And of course, as soon as He died on the cross and shouted, “It is finished. Father into your hand I commend my spirit.” The veil at the holy of holies was ripped in half, literally ripped in half.
He removed the veil. So that when we come to Scripture, when we read our Ketubah, it’s precious to us, it is now a part of us and on our hearts and minds. It’s our marriage contract that He must fulfill, that He will fulfill. Not only is it precious to us, but He has also given us the ability to understand it. The veil no longer covers our hearts.
So we see that the Kiddushin so far includes the signing of the Ketubah, the Kiddush (the cup of sanctification), and the removal of the veil. We have two more parts of the Kiddushin to look at. We will do so in two separate posts.
In the book of Acts we see the apostles having to learn to accept Gentiles into the faith. This took a dramatic event in the life of Peter when God lowered a sheet with unclean animals for Peter to kill and eat. God did this three times and the message was not the food, it was “do not call unclean what (God has) made clean”, meaning the Gentiles. Immediately following this Peter goes to a Gentile home and shares the good news of Jesus with them in their home, something that was forbidden for a Jew to do.
We then see Paul becoming the apostle to the Gentiles. He took the good news as far as he could, no matter the personal cost. Immediately on his heals were the Judaizers who claimed that the Gentiles first had to become Jews before becoming a believer in Jesus. Paul flatly rejected this in very graphic terms. In fact, I want to be clear on this point, once one is a believer in Jesus they are no longer a Gentile because a Gentile is a foreigner and alien, but in Christ we are made citizens of His nation, the holy nation of Israel over which He is king. This was the situation in Bible times.
Fast forward 2000 years and what do we see happening in the land of Israel today? We see many who want to separate the Arabs and Israelis living in the land onto different sides. Truth is they are on different sides. On one hand Jews have the right of return to the land of Israel, the land promised to them, and on the other side the Arabs want the Jews completely out of the land and consider the Israelis to be occupiers and colonialists. There are those who wish to divide the land calling a part of it the West Bank. What some like to call the West Bank in indeed a part of the historical land of Israel once known as Judea and Samaria.
This land is proportioned specifically in Scripture among the tribes of Israel. It was to eventually be the Israelis land. So how can this be resolved? How is reconciliation in a land that just about everyone seems to want to divide possible? There is only one answer to this question.
Those who believe in Yeshua the Messiah are the light in a dark situation. For the Arab believers in the land there is a group called Musalaha (www.musalaha.org), which is Arabic for reconciliation. They organize camps for Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians to come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. This effort needs our prayers.
Musalaha also puts events together so that Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians can come together in worship experiencing how both sides worship Messiah. At the same time they also reach out to Muslim Arabs in the land to show them the love and truth of Christ through different outreach opportunities.
On the other side there are Messianic Jews in the land who want a strong bond relationship with Arab Christians as well. These Messianic Jews are trying to reach out to their fellow Jews with the love and truth of the Messiah. One such ministry in Israel is Heart of G-d Ministries (www.heartofg-d.org). While Heart of G-d seeks to encourage Aliyah (Jewish right of return) of all Jews both Messianic and not Messianic, there are some elements of the Israeli government that are trying to keep Messianic Jews from having the right of return, claiming they are not real Jews. They too need our prayers.
Both sides report a good relationship with the other. A relationship that is only possible through Christ. These two sides are coming together. As they do they will begin to look more and more like each other. Why? Because they will look more and more like the Savior.
The Arab does not have to become a Jew and the the Jew does not have to leave behind his roots, on the contrary they are both the spiritual nation of Israel. Both grafted into the one tree that is Israel, God’s nation of princes, His holy nation and priesthood. The root of that tree being the Old Testament (Covenant) fulfilled in Yeshua who spilled His blood, the blood of the New Covenant.
It should be our prayer that as more and more Jews come into the land they will come to know their Messiah as they are surrounded by the truth of who they are and who He is. Also, that the Arab Christians will spur them on to jealousy as they continue to grow in their own faith and grow closer and closer to the Messianic Jews.
Jesus is the answer for the peace of Jerusalem and the land of Israel, ONLY Yeshua. What an awesome time we live in. We have before us a living example of the two becoming one if only we will take the time to see.
Yes, Jesus has put to death their hostility. Now it is up to these believers to live that out in a land and an environment that would rather them not. Yet it is the life that Yeshua calls them to live. A life that the cross of Christ demands. They must pick up their cross daily and follow Him where others do not want to go. How blessed they are as they daily live out the mystery. May God grant them His grace and His power to live this life.
In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul discusses peace, but do we today really understand what this peace Paul is speaking about is. Typically when we hear the word peace we think of quietness, stillness and rest. To be sure that is part of what Paul is talking about, but there is also something much more profound in the word “peace”. It is rest that can only be found when we draw near to God. When we find our rest in Him. Even more it means oneness with each other and God. Being made whole. This idea is carried out repeatedly in this passage. Read this passage with that in mind. You might even want to substitute the word “oneness” for “peace” and see how that opens up the passage for you.
EPH 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This whole passage is about God making the two – those who were far and those who were near – one. One with each other, putting to death their hostility and hatred for each other by the death of Jesus on the cross. In Isaiah 57 the Lord says, “Peace, peace to those far and near.” This passage in Ephesians is stating that this has been fulfilled in Yeshua, who came to proclaim the glad tidings of oneness (peace) to those who were far and those who were near.
Let’s back up. As God’s light of grace shone on those who were aliens to His people, Israel, they were brought near to His people and to Him through the cross and blood of the Messiah. Also, those who were already “near” through the covenants and promises were brought truly near by the cross and blood of Christ. For even they, though they had been given the covenants and promises, could not come near enough to God by following the commands and regulations of Scripture – no one can. As Scripture says, “No one is righteous, not even one”(Psalm 14:3, 53:3 and Romans 3:23). Humanity, whether Jew or Gentile, is not capable of coming near, truly near, to God on his own. Sin always separates us, that is why Jesus died. Only the God-Man could live a sinless life and therefore fulfill the commands and regulations of Scripture becoming the perfect sacrifice of the New Covenant.
It is with the New Covenant, promised back in the book of Jeremiah that God says, “I will be their God and they will be my people”. He promised a heart and mind that had the law of God written on them ready and willing to follow Him. It is the blood of the Messiah that is the blood of the New Covenant – the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats could never be enough, only the blood of The Lamb of God was sufficient.
With the New Covenant Gentiles of the flesh were made citizens of Israel, citizens together with the Jews – all having faith in the Messiah. It is the Messiah that is our peace, our rest, our stillness, our oneness. I heard a really wonderful illustration of this recently. It is actually one that is in Scripture though we have lost the mental picture of it. In Israel when a wild olive shoot comes up next to a cultivated olive tree that shoot literally raps itself around the tree and after a time you can no longer distinguish the wild shoot from the original tree. That is an awesome picture to me. In this way Christ made the two, the Gentile and the Jew, one tree. Both indistinguishable from the other.
Taking this new tree (made from the two), this new man, Jesus then reconciled both to God through the cross. Again, Paul states that through the cross their hostility was put to death. The Jew and the Gentile were hostile to each other then in Paul’s day and they still are today. Yet in the cross of Christ, the Messiah, this hostility has been put to death and this is also seen today. Next week I want to highlight some of the ways God is doing this in our generation.
Paul ends by saying the through the Messiah both Jew and Gentile (now both part of the spiritual nation of Israel, God’s people) have access to the Father by the one Holy Spirit. It is the first time in this passage that Paul uses the plural pronoun “we” purposely bring the two together. This new man is being built into a holy dwelling built on the foundations of both the prophets and the apostles.
The Old Covenant points directly to the New, even prophesies it – the prophets. It was the apostles who first proclaimed its fulfillment in Christ. Therefore, together the prophets and the apostles make up the foundation of God’s household. This foundation, however, would be worthless without the chief cornerstone, Yeshua the Messiah. It is on Jesus that the whole house is joined together as one and rises as one holy temple.
The final verse (22) reads in the English as if Paul goes back to just talking about the Gentiles. However, I do not believe that is the case. Instead, the “you” is plural, meaning both the Jew and the Gentile in the household of God, the church or assembly of Israel (in this case in Ephesus). The household of God, both Jew and Gentile, are being built together into one to become the dwelling of God where He lives by His Spirit. Paul is summarizing what he had already said in detail.
We are one, both with each other and with God through the cross of Christ and by His Spirit and our hostility has been replaced by love for each other and our God.
13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.
I want to concentrate on the term “down payment” today. In the Greek this word is ἀρραβώv (arrabōn) and the definition comes from the Hebrew root `arabown meaning a pledge as part of the purchase, money or property given in advance as security for the rest, or become engaged (a promise of more). The Holy Spirit is the engagement ring so to speak. He is the pledge given for the full inheritance.
Now we have the Holy Spirit in us as Jesus promised the disciples in John 14 and as was promised in Jeremiah 31 with the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit is the one who puts the law, the word of God, on our hearts and minds. It is by His power we are able to live a godly life to the praise of His Glory. Yet the full inheritance is yet to come.
That full inheritance is the return of our Lord Jesus and the wedding of the Lamb. Followed, of course, by the wedding supper and our life together in the presence of God forever in the New Jerusalem. It is no wonder that at the end of Scripture in the book of Revelation it is both the Spirit and the Bride who say, “Come”, together.
This is a very important point because it is the giving of the Holy Spirit that binds us together with each other and with our Lord, our glorious Bridegroom. It is the power of the Spirit that makes the two one body and brings the unity of the body. All based on the blood and resurrection of Christ, his payment of the bridal price and the Father’s approval of that payment. Our full inheritance is coming, coming quickly.
We will discuss further the role of the Holy Spirit in later posts, I just wanted to cover the concept of “down payment” with you in order to continue to lay our foundation of Biblical Unity.