Whispers of the New Covenant (1)
"Blessed the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For Thou art the glory of their strength: and in Thy favour our horn shall be exalted. For the Lord is our defence; and the holy one of Israel is our King. Then Thou spakest in vision to Thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon One that is Mighty; I have exalted One chosen out of the people." (Psalm 89:15-19).
That there was a minor fulfillment of this, we know, for David was chosen
out from among the people, to lead Israel onward. But that it is also prophetic
of that Greater Son of David, we are assured. Moses also spoke of Him,
saying, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst
of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken." (Deuteronomy
18:15). Then a long time later Peter would refer to this Word, and let
them know that it was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, as we read in
God hath raised up ONE THAT IS MIGHTY, even our Saviour, and laid help upon Him-- "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand." (John 3:34-35). And now it is in HIS NAME that we rejoice, and in HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS that we shall be exalted, be lifted up. He is the "YES" of the covenant given to us, and the SECURITY of the promise of life for all men.
"But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. - For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearths: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest." (Hebrews 8:6, 10-11).
How beautifully God declares this-- "a covenant that I WILL MAKE... I WILL WRITE... I WILL PUT... THEY SHALL BE..." We could well repeat this principle in every chapter, and not be amiss, how that God makes promise both for Himself, and for us, saying, "I WILL... and YE SHALL." The reason that we shall is because He hath "laid help upon One that is Mighty," and this MIGHTY ONE shall take up residence in us by His Spirit, and then live out through us all the ramifications of the new covenant. What HE WRITES IN, He then proceeds to LIVE OUT. It is the energizing force of His own life, bringing forth the reality of His righteousness in us.
As a small child in Sunday School we were taught that there are thousands of promises in the Bible, and then we would sing:
"Every promise in the Book is mine,
Every chapter, every verse, every line,
I am trusting in His love Divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine."
Then we were taught that many of these promises are conditional, as
God said to Israel of old, "If you will do this... then" I will do this..."
So the standard was set before us of all that we were to DO, if we could
then expect God to keep His part of the promise. Certainly there was truth
in this teaching, as long as it is viewed from the position of the old
covenant. God said, "If My people, which are called by My name, shall...
THEN will I..." (2 Chronicles 7:14). So this, and many like passages, are
constantly quoted to this day, as people are exhorted TO DO, with the hope
that per chance God will hearken to them, and also DO-- whatever it is
in their prayer that they are asking Him to do.
The problem with all such CONDITIONAL PROMISES is that man cannot do, the flesh cannot do, and all the self-effort finds us failing, coming short of the glory of God.
Then God institutes a BETTER way, "A BETTER COVENANT, which was established upon BETTER PROMISES." Swallowing up all of the old promises into the new, and then guaranteeing the fulfillment of them in Himself. Unconditional, without any dependency upon man, He became the SURETY of all that He promises us in the new covenant. "For when we were yet without strength," and could not in any way add something thereto, to help God out in the working, "in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6). He did not count upon man for one iota of input. Not only did man not have any strength, but his situation was compounded by the fact that he was ungodly. A sinner is totally incapable of adding to God's righteousness, and so CHRIST DID IT ALL.
Again and again throughout the Old Testament, we find that God gave precious revelation to men and women, and they would speak of things which were far beyond their present time and dispensation. This Jesus once pointed out, when He said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." (John 8:56).
David shares one of these God-given insights, when he says, "Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto Thee. For Thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" (Psalm 56:12-13).
Certainly David was aware of the "conditional promises," of God, and he sought to DO those things which would bring the blessing of God into his life. But he also experienced many a slippery path along the way, when he would stumble, when his flesh could not rise to the occasion and overcome. Then he would cry out for that Divine help which alone could succor him. But beyond all the doing-- failing-- crying for help, David also had a revelation of another realm, a higher dimension, where GOD MAKES THE VOW, saying, "By Myself have I sworn..." thus making Himself the sole responsibility for the outcome. (Editor's note: It can be said that God took responsibility for His creation). There were no conditional clauses inserted, it would be ALL GOD.
Whenever God took an oath to do a certain thing, "Because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself." (Hebrews 6:13). It was in this confirming His Word by an oath, that God literally INTERPOSED HIMSELF, placed Himself as the Guarantee of the fulfillment.
When a natural man swears by an oath to do something, because he knows his own lack, weakness, frailty, etc. when he swears he is invoking the name, character, power of a greater, to back him up and help him to fulfill what he has sworn to do. "So help me, God." Literally, God will have to be my reinforcing help.
"God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath." (Hebrews 6:17). God gave His Word, and that in itself was enough. "For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89). However, God was mindful of our weaknesses, our unbelief, etc. and was willing to add a CONFIRMATION-- by an oath. But there was none greater to swear by! "Is there a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." (Isaiah 44:8). Therefore, when there was none greater, "He sware by Himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee." (Hebrews 6:14).
Now we have HIS WORD, backed by HIS OWN STATE OF BEING, His righteousness. When God makes a promise, and backs it up by Himself, you have avow that is unalterable, immutable, irreversible. Bless His name!
For the ages, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven,
For the ages, O Lord, Thy counsels shall stand,"
None shall ever turn back the thing which Thou hast purposed,
Let the earth now make hast, fulfilling Thy command.
For the ages, O Lord, Thy throne is founded on mercy,
For the ages, O Lord, Thy faithfulness reigns,
By the Word of Thy power Thou shalt subdue all nations,
And Thy glory shall shine o'er all Thy vast domain.
For The Kingdom shall come, and His will shall be done,
On earth, as in heaven, He's Lord of all,
In love He shall gather the sheep gone astray,
With mercy and pardon for all.
Now, the Psalmist says, "THY VOWS are upon me." What God has sworn to do
is a promise that is personally mine. It is not a conditional promise,
there is no dependency upon my faltering step, but it rests solely upon
God-- His Word, His being!
We know not, and we cannot impute to David whatever thoughts were in him when he uttered this statement. But this we read, "My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp." (Psalm 49:3-4). We can imagine, at least, that as the Psalmist began to play his harp, to sing, to worship his God, that the Spirit of God moved upon him, and he would sing forth these DARK SAYINGS-- truths which reached into the ages beyond him. And now, in this instance, he speaks out, "Thy vows are upon me, O God."
When God quickens to you that THE NEW COVENANT IS GOD'S VOW TO YOU, and He has sworn by Himself to fulfill it in you, it will bring a sense of rest, peace, joy, security, which cannot be expressed with words. We bow low before Him, to worship Him, yet are speechless because of such love to us.
So, it is established, THE WORD IS OF GOD, "working in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." And what a processing this is, ever He shall bring us to that glorious climax where He shares with us of His glory. "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake, will I do it: for how should My name be polluted? and I will not give My glory to another." (Isaiah 48:10-11).
He has promised us a UNION, a oneness with Himself, wherein He will share with us of His glory. "And the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them." (John 17:22). But only after He has already fulfilled the qualifying verse, (17), "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." It is this SANCTIFYING PROCESS which sets us apart from all that is unholy, inferior, of another state than of Himself. He dare not share His glory with "another," which is of a lesser quality, inferior character, etc. For He will not have His name polluted. For this cause, "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth, " but He does it 'for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness." (Hebrews 12:6, 10). When we are partakers of His divine nature, conformed to His image, ONE IN HIM, we shall share in His glory-- for we shall be found to His praise!
It has been stated that in this processing God uses Satan to attack our weak points, while He Himself attacks our strong points. Thus both our weaknesses and our strengths are dealt with, until He has purified unto Himself a people who have no confidence in the flesh, but declare, "IN THE LORD have I righteousness and strength." (Isaiah 45:24).
Be there a weak point in us, the adversary will seek to find it. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (I Peter 5:8-9).
This is not to be feared, nor magnified all out of proportion, it is but a warning for us to be vigilant. Then Peter follows with a beautiful promise, (verse 10), "The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." THE GOD OF ALL GRACE will do this-- that is our new covenant security. He calls us unto glory, He processes us thoroughly for that realm, He supplies the grace to bring us through, and He makes us perfect-- it is GOD ALL THE WAY!
Furthermore, there shall come a day when we can say as Jesus did, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." (John 14:30), because "ALL that is within me, will bless His holy name." (Psalm 103:1). There is only one realm wherein the adversary can never gain a toe-old, finding nothing in us which he can fan into a flame of unholy desire, and that is when we become "the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We are to resist the adversary "stedfast in the faith." And how do we do this? By learning to keep our eye single to God at all times, and praise Him IN and FOR everything that He allows to touch our life. Total consciousness of God makes no room for the adversary!
"IN EVERYTHING give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
"At all times and FOR EVERYTHING giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. " (Ephesians 5:20, Amplified).
AT ALL TIMES-- IN-- and FOR-- EVERYTHING! Because we know that our Wise and Loving Heavenly Father has chosen the best way to prepare us to become partakers of His glory. "Yes, if we share in His sufferings we shall certainly share in His glory. In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us." (Romans 8:17-18, Phillips).
Furthermore, let it be clear, man is not suffering in payment for his sin. He often suffers because of his sin, reaping the consequences of what he has sown, and through that reaping becomes chastened until he turns to the Saviour for salvation. But no suffering serves as payment for our sin. Jesus Christ became the SACRIFICE offered for our sin, and it was complete, nothing more need be added, nay, cannot be added thereto. It is a discredit to Calvary's triumph to suggest that any other payment be made for our sin. "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2).
Now, while, we say, God uses the negative realm to attack our weak points, He reserves to Himself the right to attack our strong points, until we no longer place any confidence in our own strengths. We come to that point where again we identify with the Psalmist, " He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days. I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days." (Psalm 102:23-24).
Why did He weaken my strength? So that HE ALONE would be the strength which fulfills the new covenant. "He has said to me, and His declaration still stands, My grace is enough for you, for power is moment by moment coming to its full energy and complete operation in the sphere of weakness. Therefore, most gladly will I the rather boast in my weaknesses in order that the power of Christ may take up its residence in me." (2 Corinthians 12:9, Wuest).
Yes, He has chosen the "furnace of affliction" to test and try us. Yes, He has "weakened my strength in the way," while He brings us into union with His strength. But all the moments when we felt so forsaken, moments of His wrath, i.e. of the energy forces of God bringing about His corrective judgments until we are purged from our own ways, all of this, God says, are but "as the waters of Noah unto Me." And then He reminds us, "I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth." There will be a judgment working of God, but not unto total devastation, and utter wipe-out. But He gives a beautiful promise, "So have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:9-10).
Furthermore, the promise goes on, because God remembers HIS COVENANT OF PEACE, and because He has such TREMENDOUS MERCY for all His creation, "ALL thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established." (v. 13-14).
A covenant of peace that is extended to "ALL THY CHILDREN," because He hath sworn to do so. And in order for all the children to know this peace, they must all "BE TAUGHT OF GOD." Not just taught about God, through the various traditions and creeds of religious institutions. Nay, but be taught OF (BY) God Himself. What will He teach them? "I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." When God Himself illumines the heart of every man, and they all "know Him from the least unto the greatest," then we'll have glorious peace throughout His universe, for He will have fulfilled the new covenant which He swore to do. There is a SECURITY in this which is hard for a carnal mind to grasp, because for so long man has been programmed with the negative doctrines which were founded upon man's own bestiality, and not upon the true nature and character of God.
Jesus Himself verified this word through the prophet. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: - It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me." (John 6:44-45).
Not until they are TAUGHT OF GOD can they hear-- for He must speak, He must cause His Word to enter into their heart and mind, and as it does they shall learn of Him, and the more they learn of Him, the more they will come unto, yes, into Him!
While there are heights and depths in His wisdom beyond all our comprehension, there is one specific thing the Word tells us that God teaches. Paul writes of it. "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are TAUGHT OF GOD TO LOVE one another." (1 Thessalonians 4:9). This also is confirmed in the teaching of Jesus to His disciples, "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12). Only HE whose nature is LOVE can teach you to love. It is a fruit of HIS SPIRIT, the new covenant Spirit. When we are made partakers of His divine nature, and He writes in us of His laws-- HE WILL INSCRIBE THE PRINCIPLES OF LOVE, so that out of our innermost being shall flow a love which never faileth.
The ministration of the first covenant could never teach, nor impart such love. It did not change the nature of man, only regulated his outward works. The contrast is seen so clearly between John the Baptist, who was the last of the old order of the law, and Jesus Christ, who was the beginning of the new order of love and grace. John came on the scene, saying, "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. " And the people, long used to a regime of works, asked him, "WHAT SHALL WE DO THEN? He answered and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. "
"Then came also the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, WHAT SHALL WE DO? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you."
"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, and WHAT SHALL WE DO ? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
All these good deeds were covered by the law of Moses. Commendable as they were, they were not flowing out of a love nature, but as a REQUIRED DOING. But even this forthright teaching on morality put the people in suspense, musing and questioning among themselves, whether John was the Christ, or not. John cleared up this questioning, saying, "I indeed baptize you with water; but ONE MIGHTIER THAN I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the holy Spirit and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His gamer; but the chaff He will bum with fire unquenchable." (Luke 3:8-17).
Remember the prophetic word from the Psalm, "I have laid help upon One that is mighty." Now John declares Him, "ONE MIGHTIER THAN I COMETH;" and HE SHALL baptize... HE WILL purge... HE WILL gather... HE WILL burn... Thus the emphasis was taken away from "what shall we do?" and placed squarely upon what HE would do, for HE would bring salvation to His people, changing them completely in nature.
The young man came to Jesus with the same question, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? - (Jesus answered), If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." That was perfectly in line with the realm of the law, "That the man which doeth those things shall live by them." (Romans 10:5). Then the young man said, "Which?" Every Rabbi had his own list of works to prescribe, placing emphasis on this or that commandment, let's see what this Teacher will say. But Jesus simply quoted six of the ten commandments, which the young man knew well. THE NEW WAY HAD NOT YET BEEN OPENED, so Jesus restated the law given long ago. "The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" By his own experience he knew that "the law made nothing perfect." (Hebrews 7:9).
How keenly the young man felt his own imperfection, for his inner nature remained unchanged. Jesus zeroed right in on this, and said to him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast... and come and follow Me." (Matthew 19:16-21).
Sell that thou hast-- be willing to be stripped of all. Yes, you have gained some riches, but all of your good works are not enough, be willing to be stripped of all that self has accumulated.
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." (Matthew 13:45-46).
Having surrendered all-- the gifts, the graces, the things you have paid a great price for through the years-- giving them all back to God, because you desire the "Pearl of great price," now, "Come and follow Me." Find in Me all that your heart desires, I WILL BE YOUR PERFECTION! Place your faith in Me, and I will become unto you, "Wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
So accustomed to a dispensation of WORKS, again they came to Jesus, and "Said unto Him, WHAT SHALL WE DO, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (John 6:28-29).
You really want to do "the works of God ?" You want to please God? Then know this, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." (Hebrews 11:6). All God asks of you is to BELIEVE on this MIGHTY ONE who comes to BE YOUR ALL! And knowing that you cannot generate your own faith, Paul writes, "that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8). As HE draws you, as HE imparts the faith, then you can respond in believing, while He fulfills that faith by being your redemption.
Believing is a response, not the initial action, which is always GOD'S. Faith is produced in you by someone other than yourself. Faith never accrues to the praise of the one who possesses it, but rather, to the glory of the One who evokes it. Faith is a noun, while "believe" (the verb) is what faith does. When God imparts the faith, our response will surely follow.
If you trust someone, you do not trust them because of what you are in yourself, but because of what that person has revealed himself to be to you. It is the obligation of the one who desires your trust, to prove himself to be trustworthy. Truly our Lord reveals Himself to be totally worthy of our trust. All that He does is FOR US, and "If God be for us, who can be against us.-- Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." (Romans 8:31, 33).
That is the SECURITY OF THE NEW COVENANT! He is our Justifier!, He brings us into union with His righteousness. He draws us, gives us the faith to believe, and then honors that faith by working in us the fullness of our salvation. It is God's working all the way, and that is why the salvation of ALL mankind is secure.
"I am found of a people that sought me not." (Isaiah 65:1).
"And all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3:6).
Lord of hosts hath purposed, so shall it ever be,
His mighty power working, fulfills our destiny.
nought shall ever alter the counsel of His will,
Nor hinder this salvation, the whole of earth to fill.
when His hand is stretched out, no power can turn it back,
And though He is long suffering, His hand is never slack.
time that He has measured, redemption to complete,
Shall see the full fruition, His glory more than meet.
promise great was given, and by Himself was sworn,
Confirmed unto its reaping on vict'ry's harvest morn.
unchanging, the whole in peace abides,
And nought shall make it differ, when tempests lift their tides.
accent, mark, and meaning, shall meet the fullest score,
With nothing ever lacking, no balance needing more.
thy faith be resting, yea, deep in Him be found,
And know that in His fullness doth grace much more abound.