God Remembers the New Covenant

God Remembers the New Covenant

God Remembers the New Covenant.

“Jesus took some unleavened bread called matzah, and gave thanks to God. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ After supper He took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the New Covenant between God and His people – an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.'” (Luke 22:19-20).

To “remember” something, in biblical language, is not merely the act of recalling something that has been forgotten. After all, God doesn’t forget anything, and yet the Scripture repeatedly points to the fact that “God remembered.” With reference to God, remembering means, not to recall, but to be mindful of something, to acknowledge something, to choose to focus on something. And in the Bible the word “remember” implies God’s action, intervention, about Him doing something about what He is mindful of. God often remembers in order to be faithful to a promise.  When God remembers, be prepared to see God in action. When God remembers, there is a focus of divine attention, and the action soon to come makes clear what God is mindful of. God doesn’t just think about something when He remembers, God actually does something about it. When God remembers, He chooses to participate with what is on His mind.

“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already, says the Lord. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my instructions and be careful to obey my regulations.” (Ezekiel 36:28-30).

When Jesus declared the New Covenant at His Last Supper, He was boldly claiming that the New Covenant as predicted by Jeremiah and hinted at in Ezekiel was now being ratified, inaugurated, put into place. By remembering the New Covenant like He did with His disciples, Jesus is preparing to make good on God’s age-old promises of redemption. Jesus declared that He will now fulfill those prophecies from the Hebrew Bible. Even Moses anticipated the New Covenant in Deuteronomy 29:4, when he told the gathered Israelites, “Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or hears to hear.” Moses knew that there would come a day when his observation would come true with the people of Israel. Jesus confirmed that day has indeed arrived, the Passover’s Cup of Redemption is now fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Messiah.

When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” He wasn’t limiting remembrance to merely a mental activity. Jesus was referring to the biblical understanding of remembrance, that remembering involved personal experience. Remembering something always brought with it the purpose of bringing the past into the present, of having the person doing the remembering participate in the memory. Jesus wants the New Covenant to be brought into the current reality whenever we remember His body and blood. Jesus intended the Communion act to have an impact on the person who is doing the remembering. He wants the body and blood of the past sacrifice to remain real and effectual, taking effect now as surely as it did during Christ’s Passion. The elements of Communion, through faith in Jesus and the work of the Spirit, are intended to become a part of our spiritual digestive system, a vital part of who we are in our current spiritual walk with God. The body and the blood of the past is intended to become present to us now in its original power and fullness, real spiritual food, enabling us to grow in the Lord.

Various thoughts regarding the New Covenant:

(1.) The Hebrew word for “new” in the New Covenant means “renewal” or “new edition.” So the New Covenant should be more accurately called the Renewed Covenant. The writer of Hebrews in the NT seems to be saying this when he writers of the “better covenant” of Christ (Heb. 7:22 and 8:6). “What the Torah cannot do because of man’s evil inclinations, God will do by sending His Son the Messiah to accomplish it.” (Dr. David Stern)

(2.) The shedding of Jesus’ blood on the Cross is the basis of the New Covenant. The fulfillment of the earlier covenants had to wait until the fullness of time according to God’s plan of redemption.

(3.) The New Covenant as prophesied by Jeremiah and ratified by Jesus was originally given to the nation of Israel, not to the world. The Gentiles were brought into the New Covenant, it was not made with them. They were included, they were grafted onto the vine, not a part of the original plant. (Romans 11). Nowhere in Scripture does one read that God had made a covenant with the Gentiles.

(4.) The earlier covenants depended on the actions of the faithful as they obeyed the Law and all the “You shall nots”. The renewed covenant depends entirely on the gracious actions of God, who said, “I will” six times in the Jeremiah passage. (an idea from Hebrew scholar Dr. David Stern)

(5.) The New Covenant guarantees that Israel will experience, through the Messiah, a complete deliverance, a full restoration. The New Covenant speaks of redemption of the Chosen People, when the sins of Israel will be forgotten, and the Lord will not remember their former transgressions.

(6.) The New Covenant completes and fulfills the earlier covenants through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Messiah. The Noahide, Abrahamic, Sinai and Davidic covenants were all Scriptural promises by God, and now in Jesus we realize that all earlier covenants point directly to Christ. The New Covenant fulfills the earlier covenants, but it does not replace them. They are still in effect, for as Jesus in Matthew 5:17, not one word of Torah, not even the smallest letter in the Law, will pass away until all is fulfilled.

(7.) The New Covenant promises a new relationship between God and believers. As stated in the Jeremiah passage, each person shall “know” the Lord, from the least of us to the greatest of us. The Hebrew understanding of “know” is profoundly more than a mental exercise. Knowing is experiential. It is an intimate understanding of someone or something. To know a person is to participate in a deep union with that person, a vital relationship in which the knowledge of someone changes the knower. All of this is implied when God invites us to “know” Him.

(8.) St. Paul calls the New Covenant the “ministry of the Spirit” in 2 Corinthians 3:8. The Spirit is the One who will make possible the New Covenant’s promise of writing the instructions of the Lord on each heart and mind. And the Spirit, known as the Eternal Teacher in the early church, is the One who will teach each person about God. The Spirit is the One who will enable each person to know God intimately, first-hand, not indirectly through someone else. It is the Spirit who will take our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, the Spirit who will enable us to walk in the ways of the Lord. The New Covenant is indeed a ministry of the Holy Spirit.

(9.) The Christian Church does not in any way replace the Nation of Israel. Nonetheless, like Israel at Mt. Sinai, the followers of Jesus also become a “chosen people, the Kings’ priests, a holy nation, a people for God to possess.” (1 Peter 2:9-10).