The two great Covenants have to do with Israel, not the Church, as we clearly see from Rom. 9:4; "... Israelites; to whom pertaineth ... the covenants". Covenant theologians argue that the New Covenant is with the Church; but if we look at Jeremiah 31:31 we find that the New Covenant will be made with "the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah". The covenants are with Israel and for the earth. The Church is heavenly, and called out of the earth. If we compare the two covenants we will see striking differences:
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Made with:||Israel at Sinai in the wilderness||Israel and Judah in the Millennium|
|Character:||Blessings or cursings conditional upon Israel's obedience||Unconditional blessings|
|A system of:||Demand (works)||Supply (grace)|
The great difference between the two covenants is that the Old was on the basis of works, and the New is on the basis of grace. The language of the Old is "if thou shalt ... then I will...", but the language of the New is just "I will...". The prophecy of Jeremiah 31 was given after the utter failure of Israel under the Old Covenant was manifest, which set God on His part free to make a New Covenant. On the people's part, the cross must come in first, because it was necessary to transfer the issue of their responsibility to Israel's smitten Messiah. The guilt of breaking the Old must be cleared before the New could be established. Therefore, we can see that the death of Christ was needed to "take away the first and establish the second" (Heb. 10:9). If the New Covenant is made with Israel, why does the cup in the Lord's Supper represent "the blood of the New Covenant" (1 Cor. 11:25, etc.)? If we look at the blessings of the New Covenant we will see that Christians have those same blessings in Christianity, although we also have many blessings that go far beyond those of the New Covenant (Eph. 1; blessings "in Christ"). Therefore, it can be said that Christians share the blessings of the New Covenant, without being formally under the covenant. Paul clearly says that Christians are "competent, as ministers of the new covenant" (2 Cor. 3:6) although we are not under it as a binding contract; "not of letter, but of spirit". The spirit of the New Covenant is grace, and that is what characterizes our relationship to God in Christianity. The same blood that has secured the New Covenant blessings for future Israel has secured our blessings in Christianity today.