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Clifford McLain's avatar
January 4, 1986

Israel Under the New Covenant

Israel Under the New Covenant

Although the precious blood of the New Covenant was shed by the Lord Jesus, yet it is obvious that the New Covenant has not yet been established with Israel. The Old Covenant was made on the day of the exodus, the first Passover (Heb. viii. 9), but the giving of the law and the agreement of Israel to keep it did not occur until after sixty days (Ex. xix. 1). A similar interval now obtains in the case of the New Covenant. The New Covenant was made in the day when Christ became the true Passover (Matt. xxvi. 28), but the day when the law shall be written on the hearts of Israel, and they become truly the Lord’s people, is still future (Heb. viii. 8-11).

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. X. 4).

The work of the Lord Jesus rendered the terms of the Old Covenant a dead letter to those that believed. Romans i.–viii. prove the impossibility of attaining to God’s righteousness by the law, and explains how it is now made possible to receive that righteousness by faith. Romans ix.–xi. pursues a question that arises out of this. If the righteousness of the law can now be attained by faith, how is it that Israel has not received the promises?

“Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone” (Rom. ix. 31, 32).

Although righteousness was to be received by faith, Israel, as a nation, continued to seek it by the law; they “have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. x. 3). Thus, although the blood of the New Covenant was shed, Israel did not submit to the terms of the New Covenant; they did not seek the promises by faith. The root of the failure was that they stumbled at that stumbling-stone, the Lord from heaven:

“Their minds were blinded, for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old covenant, which veil is done away in Christ” (2 Cor. iii. 14).

At the time of writing Romans, a few only were enlightened:

“Even so, then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace, and if by grace, then, it is no more of works . . . What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Rom. xi. 7).

The blindness of Israel at that present time became more complete, until finally a pronouncement of their blindness was made at Acts xxviii, 23-29, after which we find that Israel and the New Covenant ceased to be in the forefront of God’s purposes, and another distinct purpose took its place. The quotation of Isa. vi. 9, 10, on this occasion was a direct negation of the promise of the New Covenant in Jer. xxxi. 31-34; compare the reference to “hearts” in both passages. The probability of the New Covenant being realized was consequently deferred until Israel is again dealt with as a nation.

The duration of this blindness is connected with the times of the Gentiles:

“For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery . . . that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom. xi. 25-27).

Until the Deliverer does come to Jacob, Israel will remain without the New Covenant, even though that covenant is already made possible through the blood of the New Covenant. Within this present interval is the dispensation of the Mystery wherein our hope is found, a hope distinct and entirely different from that of Israel. It remains then, that Israel is not yet under the New Covenant, that time being still future.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Heb. viii. 8).

From the Study: The New Covenant