“You will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”—EXODUS 19:6.
1, 2. What protection did the offspring of the woman need, and why?
THE first prophecy in the Bible is vital to understanding how God’s purpose will succeed. When God made the Edenic promise, he said: “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring.” How fierce would this enmity, or hatred, be? Jehovah said: “He [the offspring of the woman] will crush your [Satan’s] head, and you will strike him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) The enmity between Satan and the woman would be so fierce that the Devil would use all his power to destroy this offspring.
2 No wonder the psalmist prayed about God’s people: “Look! your enemies are in an uproar; those who hate you act arrogantly. With cunning they secretly plot against your people; they conspire against your treasured ones. They say: ‘Come, let us annihilate them as a nation.’” (Psalm 83:2-4) Satan’s goal was to destroy and corrupt the family line of the offspring. To protect the offspring and guarantee that the Messianic Kingdom would be successful, Jehovah made additional covenants.
A COVENANT THAT PROTECTS THE OFFSPRING
3, 4. (a) When did the Law covenant become valid, and what did the nation of Israel agree to do? (b) What was the Law covenant designed to protect?
3 After the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob multiplied into the millions, Jehovah made them into the nation of ancient Israel. With Moses as the mediator, God made a unique covenant with this nation. Jehovah gave them the Law, and Israel agreed to obey it. The Bible says that Moses “took the book of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said: ‘All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do, and we will be obedient.’ So Moses took the blood [of the sacrificed bulls] and sprinkled it on the people and said: ‘This is the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you in harmony with all these words.’”—Exodus 24:3-8.
The Law guaranteed that the offspring who would come from Abraham’s family would not be corrupted
4 The Law covenant became valid in the year 1513 before Christ. By means of that covenant, Jehovah chose the ancient nation of Israel for a special purpose. God would be their Judge, Lawgiver, and King. (Isaiah 33:22) The history of Israel shows what happens when people either obey or disobey God’s righteous standards. Obedience to God’s Law meant that the Israelites were not allowed to marry pagans or worship other gods. The Law was designed to protect Abraham’s offspring from corruption.—Exodus 20:4-6; 34:12-16.
5. (a) What opportunity did the Law covenant give to the nation of Israel? (b) Why did God reject Israel?
5 Under the Law covenant, priests were appointed to serve in Israel. Those priests were a symbol of another group of priests who in the future would serve humans in a better way. (Hebrews 7:11; 10:1) In fact, the Law covenant gave the nation of Israel the opportunity to become “a kingdom of priests.” To have this privilege, the Israelites had to obey Jehovah’s laws. (Read Exodus 19:5, 6.) However, they failed to obey. Israel did not accept the Messiah, the main part of Abraham’s offspring. Instead, they rejected Jesus, and God rejected them.
6. What was the purpose of the Law?
6 Because they did not remain faithful to God, the nation of Israel did not become a kingdom of priests. But this does not mean that the Law had failed. The Law protected the offspring and helped people to identify the Messiah. Once Christ came to the earth and was identified, the Law had succeeded. The Bible states: “Christ is the end of the Law.” (Romans 10:4) So, what group would have the opportunity to become a kingdom of priests? Jehovah made another legal contract to form a new nation.
A NEW NATION IS FORMED
7. What did Jehovah foretell through Jeremiah?
7 Long before the Law covenant was canceled, Jehovah foretold through the prophet Jeremiah that He would make “a new covenant” with the nation of Israel. (Read Jeremiah 31:31-33.) That covenant would be different from the Law covenant because it would not require animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. How was that possible?
8, 9. (a) What is possible by means of Jesus’ blood? (b) What opportunity became available to those in the new covenant? (See opening picture.)
8 Hundreds of years later, on Nisan 14 in the year 33, Jesus started a new observance, the Lord’s Evening Meal. Speaking of the cup of wine, Jesus told his 11 faithful apostles: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Luke 22:20) According to Matthew’s account, Jesus said: “This means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.”—Matthew 26:27, 28.
9 The blood of Jesus’ sacrifice makes the new covenant valid. That blood was given once, and it makes it possible for many to receive forgiveness of sins forever. Jesus is not included in the new covenant. He is without sin, so he does not need forgiveness. But God can use the value of Jesus’ sacrifice to benefit humans. He can also use his holy spirit to anoint some faithful humans and adopt them “as sons.” (Read Romans 8:14-17.) Jehovah is able to view them as he does his Son, Jesus, who has no sin. These anointed ones would become “joint heirs with Christ.” They would also have the opportunity and privilege that the nation of Israel lost, that is, to become “a kingdom of priests.” The apostle Peter said about them: “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Clearly, the new covenant is vital! It allows disciples of Jesus to become the additional part of Abraham’s offspring.
THE NEW COVENANT BECOMES VALID
10. When did the new covenant become valid, and why was it not valid until then?
10 The new covenant did not become valid at the Lord’s Evening Meal. Why not? In order for the covenant to become valid, Jesus had to return to heaven and present to God the value of his sacrifice. Also, those who would be “joint heirs with Christ” needed to be anointed with holy spirit. So the new covenant became valid at Pentecost in the year 33 when Jesus’ disciples received God’s spirit.
The new covenant became valid at Pentecost in the year 33 when Jesus’ disciples received God’s spirit
11. How did the new covenant make it possible for both Jews and Gentiles to become part of spiritual Israel, and how many would be in the new covenant?
11 When Jehovah announced through Jeremiah that a new covenant would be made with Israel, this indicated that the Law covenant would eventually not be needed. The Law ended when the new covenant became valid. (Hebrews 8:13) By means of the new covenant, both Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles would have an equal opportunity to be heirs of God’s Kingdom, because their “circumcision is that of the heart by spirit and not by a written code.” (Romans 2:29) God would put his laws in their mind and in their hearts. (Hebrews 8:10) The new covenant includes 144,000 anointed ones. They make up a new nation that is called “the Israel of God,” or spiritual Israel.—Galatians 6:16; Revelation 14:1, 4.
12. How do the Law covenant and the new covenant compare?
12 How do the Law covenant and the new covenant compare? The Law covenant was between Jehovah and the nation of Israel, and the new covenant is between Jehovah and spiritual Israel. Moses was the mediator of the Law covenant, and Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant. The Law covenant became valid by means of the blood of animals, and the new covenant became valid by means of the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. Under the Law covenant, Moses was the leader of the nation of Israel. Jesus, the Head of the congregation, is the Leader of those who are under the new covenant.—Ephesians 1:22.
13, 14. (a) How is the new covenant connected to the Kingdom? (b) What is necessary for spiritual Israel to be able to rule with Christ in heaven?
13 How is the new covenant connected to the Kingdom? This covenant creates a holy nation that has the opportunity to become kings and priests in the Kingdom in heaven. That nation makes up the additional part of Abraham’s offspring. (Galatians 3:29) So the new covenant confirms that the Abrahamic covenant will come true.
14 The new covenant creates the nation of spiritual Israel and is the legal basis for anointed ones to become “joint heirs with Christ.” But how can anointed ones rule with Jesus as kings and priests in heaven? Another legal agreement allows for that.
A COVENANT THAT ALLOWS OTHERS TO RULE WITH CHRIST
15. What personal covenant did Jesus make with his faithful apostles?
15 After instituting the Lord’s Evening Meal, Jesus made a covenant with his faithful disciples called the Kingdom covenant. (Read Luke 22:28-30.) Unlike the other covenants, Jehovah is not included in this covenant. Instead, this is a personal covenant between Jesus and the anointed. When Jesus said “just as my Father has made a covenant with me,” he may have been referring to the covenant that Jehovah made with him to be “a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.”—Hebrews 5:5, 6.
16. What does the Kingdom covenant make possible for anointed Christians?
16 The 11 faithful apostles remained loyal to Jesus during all his trials. The Kingdom covenant guaranteed that the apostles would sit on thrones and rule as kings and serve as priests with Jesus in heaven. But those 11 would not be the only ones to have that privilege. Jesus appeared to the apostle John in a vision and said: “To the one who conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21) So the Kingdom covenant is made with the 144,000 anointed Christians. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 7:4) This covenant is the legal basis for the anointed to rule with Jesus in heaven. This is similar to a bride who is chosen to marry a king. Once the two are married, it is possible for the bride to rule with the king. In fact, the Bible refers to the anointed as “the bride” of Christ, “a chaste virgin” promised in marriage to the Christ.—Revelation 19:7, 8; 21:9; 2 Corinthians 11:2.
HAVE UNSHAKABLE FAITH IN GOD’S KINGDOM
17, 18. (a) Review six covenants that we have discussed and that are connected to the Kingdom. (b) Why can we have solid faith in the Kingdom?
17 All the covenants we have discussed in these two articles are connected to one or more vital elements of the Kingdom. (See the chart “How God Will Accomplish His Purpose” in the previous article.) It is clear that based on these legal agreements, the Kingdom is guaranteed to succeed. We can be fully convinced that God is going to use the Messianic Kingdom to make his purpose for humans and the earth come true.—Revelation 11:15.
18 There is no doubt that the Kingdom is the only solution to mankind’s problems. We are absolutely confident that it will bring lasting benefits to all humans. So may we zealously tell others about this wonderful truth!—Matthew 24:14.