There is still an Israel. There are still a chosen people of God, but it has nothing to do with the modern state of Israel or the Jewish people. One of the changes the New Covenant brings to much greater clarity is the fact that the…
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” The Greek word translated, "fulfill," means to bring to completion, give true meaning, perfect or accomplish the goal. Jesus came to bring the Law into its mature form that it always was intended to become. This “maturing”, involves change in form, but not in its ultimate goal, which was always the revelation of the character of God for us to follow so that we can be like God.
One way to think of this is like the growth of a child. When a child is young, there are laws and commands that are appropriate for him that would not be appropriate for him as an adult. Laws for young children, say two years old for example, need to be very black and white and the punishments clear. A parent living on a busy street may make a law stating that the child may never run into the street for any reason. A two year old is not mature enough to evaluate when or when not to enter a busy street. Therefore, the law is clear, and if they disobey Dad and Mom, punishment is swift for the benefit of the child. However, a twenty year old may realize that it's not smart to enter a busy street but he may need to depending on the situation. It would be totally inappropriate for a twenty year old’s parents to still have a law concerning entering the street with the same punishments. The principle remains, but the law changes to fit the maturity.
Another way to look at it is the building of a magnificent throne for a king. While the throne is being constructed there are rules to follow to ensure its solid build. Clamps may need to be in certain places, or it may need to be upside down until the glue sets. There are tools you would use in the beginning that you would never use once it’s in its completed state. When the time is right, the clamps come off, never to be used again. Its finished state is much more glorious than the beginning state, but without the clamps, the throne would never have been built right.
The laws of the Old Covenant are like those laws for a young child and like the clamps/tools needed at the beginning of a construction. Jesus came to bring the child to maturity; to take off the clamps and set the throne in its place to serve the King. Now let’s take a look at some of the important laws that Jesus changed and brought to fulfillment.
The next major covenant administration is the Davidic Covenant. The door is opened a little wider and reveals more of the glory of God and His plan of salvation. In this covenant, there is a move from tabernacle to Temple. No longer roaming the earth in a tent, the Temple is a permanent fixture of God’s presence in the Promised Land. It’s bigger, covered with a lot more gold, altogether more glorious than the tabernacle, and signifies a maturing of the worship of God. In conjunction with this, musical instruments, hymns, and psalms are now an important part of worship, more closely reflecting the worship of God in heaven.
The fact that the Promised Land is finally completely conquered under David is also very important. Up until David, even though Israel was in the land, there continued to be Canaanites dwelling amongst them. In fact, Jerusalem remained a gentile stronghold for 450 years or so until David finally conquers it and makes it the center of the Kingdom and worship of God. In the Davidic Covenant we see more clearly the victory of the Kingdom of God over all the earth. God actually promises David that he will build his house and his throne will be established forever, anticipating the never ending rule of the Messiah, the son of David, Jesus Christ, King of Heaven and Earth. But this plan gets interrupted by Israel’s unfaithfulness.
God judges their unfaithfulness by destroying the Temple, which Israel thought was impossible, and sending them into exile. Israel keeps breaking its covenant with God, but God in His mercy keeps moving forward and makes another covenant with His people, often called the Restoration Covenant. This covenant is not as simple to find but through Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah and other places we see the return of Israel to the Promised Land and, again, a new Temple is built. This temple is not as glorious as Solomon’s and really sets the stage for the more glorious temple of the New Covenant. The Restoration Covenant, therefore, while revealing God’s great mercy toward His people in forgiving their sins, really eagerly awaits the full revelation of the glory of God and His plan of salvation in Jesus Christ, which we will begin next.
God made His covenants with Adam and Noah. Both were “universal” covenants with all mankind and set some foundational parameters on how the world works, such as the fear of man in animals, for example. Now God calls a particular people to be in covenant with Him. He will be their God and they, His people. These covenants also have implications for all mankind and each one reveals more of the character of God and the plan of salvation.
In the covenant with Abraham, God renews the dominion mandate again. This time He narrows it to Abraham’s descendants, who will fill the earth and be a blessing to the nations. Circumcision is given as a sign identifying who is in covenant with God, serving Him, and who is not. Interestingly, in the covenant ceremony, Abraham is passive, being put into a deep sleep, and God fulfills both parts of the covenant Himself. This looks forward to coming of Jesus Christ where God will accomplish the salvation of man Himself since man is dead in his sins.
In the Mosaic covenant there is significant advancement. God will now actually be present with His people in the tabernacle. Because of this, many directions are given not only in the building of God’s tent but also about how the people are supposed to live with God’s presence in the camp. These laws are specifically to teach the people the difference between what is holy and what is unclean. They reveal God’s character in more detail than ever before and also how to worship Him rightly. Up until Moses, mankind, even those circumcised and in covenant with Him, were without this information and without God’s presence with them. It’s because of this that Paul can say in Romans 5:14 that, “...death reigned from Adam to Moses”. The giving of the Law of Sinai was a signal that the reign of death has ended, God is saving His people. However, it isn’t until the New Covenant administration that death truly gets defeated. The next two covenants in the Old Covenant point primarily to the New Covenant.