Questions From Readers
▪ Did the Law covenant end when Jesus died on the stake, and when was it replaced by the new covenant?
Many have asked these questions, having in mind three events: Jesus’ dying on the torture stake in the afternoon of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., his presenting the value of his lifeblood in heaven, and his pouring out of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. Scripturally, the Law covenant ended and was replaced with the new covenant at Pentecost. Let us see why this is so.
Jehovah foretold that, in time, he would replace the Law covenant with “a new covenant” that would allow for sin to be forgiven completely, which was not possible under the Law. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) When would that replacing occur?
The older covenant, the Law covenant, needed first to be taken out of the way as having accomplished its purpose. (Galatians 3:19, 24, 25) The apostle Paul wrote: “[God] kindly forgave us all our trespasses and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.” (Colossians 2:13, 14) Does that mean that at the moment that Jesus died, the Law covenant was replaced by the new covenant?
No, for the new covenant was to be inaugurated with the blood of the appropriate sacrifice and with a new nation, spiritual Israel. (Hebrews 8:5, 6; 9:15-22) Jesus was resurrected on Nisan 16, and 40 days later he ascended to heaven. (Acts 1:3-9) Ten days after his ascension, or on the day of Pentecost, Jesus poured out on his disciples “the promised holy spirit” that he had received from his Father, and spiritual Israel came into existence. (Acts 2:33) By means of the Mediator, Jesus Christ, God makes the new covenant with spiritual Israel.
In view of these interconnected things, at what time was the Law covenant replaced by the new covenant?
One could not say that the Law ended with Jesus’ death. During the 40 days after Jesus was resurrected to spirit life but remained at the earth, his disciples were still keeping the Law. Moreover, an important feature of the Law was the high priest’s going into the Most Holy once each year. That pictured Jesus’ resurrection to the heavens. There, in the presence of God, he, as Mediator of the new covenant, could present the value of his ransom sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:23, 24) This opened the way for a new covenant to be inaugurated in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-34.
The new covenant went into effect when Jehovah acted upon his acceptance of the ransom sacrifice. He poured out his holy spirit upon the faithful disciples of Jesus to bring into existence a new nation, spiritual Israel, composed of those in the covenant for the Kingdom. (Luke 22:29; Acts 2:1-4) This showed that God had canceled the Law covenant, figuratively nailing it to the stake on which Jesus had died. So the Law covenant ended when the operation, or inauguration, of the new covenant took place at the birth of the new nation, spiritual Israel, at Pentecost 33 C.E.—Hebrews 7:12; 8:1, 2.
Beyond that primary answer to the question, we can note that God did not completely turn his back on natural Israel at the end of the Law covenant and the evident commencement of the new covenant at Pentecost 33 C.E. For instance, in accord with the Abrahamic covenant, Jehovah showed special favor toward Jews, proselytes, and Samaritans during the 70th “week” that ended in 36 C.E. (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:18; 22:18; Daniel 9:27; Acts 10:9-28, 44-48) It took time for even some anointed Jewish Christians to adjust to the fact that after 33 C.E. it was not necessary to keep the Law; we can see this from the question brought to the governing body in 49 C.E. (Acts 15:1, 2) The complete abandonment of the Law was proved undeniably in 70 C.E., when the temple and genealogical records related to the Law vanished, destroyed by the Romans.—Matthew 23:38.
[Picture Credit Line on page 31]
Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.