The new covenant is the foundation of the Christian faith. In Patriarchs and Prophets, 371, we are told what this covenant is: “simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.” God has revealed to us other names or descriptions that we may identify this same covenant:
“The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.
“This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 22:18). This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. … And the Lord declared to him, I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee’ (Genesis 17:7).” Ibid., 370.
“The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant.” Ibid., 371. This was the same covenant given to Adam.
Ephesians 3:11 states: “According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The same is noted in The Signs of the Times April 25, 1892, which says, “Therefore redemption was not an afterthought—a plan formulated after the fall of Adam—but an eternal purpose to be wrought out for the blessing not only of this atom of a world but for the good of all the worlds which God has created.”
In The Signs of the Times, June 21, 1899, and August 22, 1900, it is called the “irrevocable covenant” and in Revelation 14:6 it is called the eternal or everlasting gospel.
Please note the number of terms used in the following quote:
“The terms of this oneness between God and man in the great covenant of redemption were arranged with Christ from all eternity. The covenant of grace was revealed to the patriarchs. The covenant made with Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was spoken on Sinai was a covenant confirmed by God in Christ, the very same gospel which is preached to us. ‘The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham’ (Galatians 3:8). The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant. The plan of redemption was not conceived after the fall of man to cure the dreadful evil; the apostle Paul speaks of the gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ, as ‘the revelation of the mystery, which hath been kept in silence through times eternal’ (Romans 16:25).” The Signs of the Times, August 24, 1891.
The new covenant was instituted, or activated by the Son of God
“The Son of God, heaven’s glorious Commander, was touched with pity for the fallen race. His heart was moved with infinite compassion as the woes of the lost world rose up before Him. But divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed. The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 63.
It was a struggle for God the Father to provide the New Covenant
“Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing—‘the counsel of peace’ (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. But ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). Oh, the mystery of redemption! the love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which ‘passeth knowledge’ (Ephesians 3:19)? Through endless ages immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mystery of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.” Ibid., 63, 64.
Here is how it works:
“God was to be manifest in Christ, ‘reconciling the world unto Himself’ (II Corinthians 5:19). Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam might once more become ‘sons of God’ (I John 3:2).” Ibid., 64.
The new covenant is “simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.”
What was the purpose of the sacrificial system?
“The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty.” Ibid., 68.
Requirements to provide the new covenant
“The plan by which alone man’s salvation could be secured,
- involved all heaven in its infinite sacrifice.
- The angels … saw that man’s salvation must cost their loved Commander unutterable woe.
- “He must descend from heaven’s purity and peace, its joy and glory and immortal life, and come in contact with the degradation of earth, to endure its sorrow, shame, and death.
- He was to stand between the sinner and the penalty of sin; yet few would receive Him as the Son of God.
- He would leave His high position as the Majesty of heaven, appear upon earth and humble Himself as a man, and by His own experience become acquainted with the sorrows and temptations which man would have to endure.
- All this would be necessary in order that He might be able to succor them that should be tempted (Hebrews 2:18).
- When His mission as a teacher should be ended, He must be delivered into the hands of wicked men and be subjected to every insult and torture that Satan could inspire them to inflict.
- He must die the cruelest of deaths, lifted up between the heavens and the earth as a guilty sinner.
- He must pass long hours of agony so terrible that angels could not look upon it, but would veil their faces from the sight.
- He must endure anguish of soul, the hiding of His Father’s face, while the guilt of transgression—the weight of the sins of the whole world—should be upon Him.” Ibid., 64.
Those who will accept the terms will be given access to the kingdom of glory for eternity. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us.” I John 3:1.
To keep before the minds of the people the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to redeem them the system of sacrifices was introduced to Adam. “The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 68.
From the offering of this first sacrifice, all of the patriarchs trusted in the promise of the covenant. Enoch had entered into the terms of the new covenant and he was translated. All who abide by the terms of the new covenant as Enoch did will have the privilege of going to the New Jerusalem to be with Him. Noah in faith built an altar to offer sacrifice after the flood.
Abraham was instructed to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Through Abraham we get a glimpse of the agony and suffering of God the Father. In Isaac we see the willingness of Christ to be the sacrifice required. Like Abraham, Jacob gathered his family for the morning and evening sacrifice.
It was through the system of sacrifices that the patriarchs kept the promises of the new covenant before the people through the centuries. During the years Israel was in bondage in Egypt the sacrifices were neglected and the knowledge of the new covenant faded away in the minds of the people. The first thing God did when Israel camped at Mount Sinai was to renew the covenant with the people. See Exodus 19:3–8 and the following:
“Soon after the encampment at Sinai, Moses was called up into the mountain to meet with God. Alone he climbed the steep and rugged path, and drew near to the cloud that marked the place of Jehovah’s presence. Israel was now to be taken into a close and peculiar relation to the Most High—to be incorporated as a church and a nation under the government of God. The message to Moses for the people was:
“ ‘Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation (Exodus 19:4–6).
“Moses returned to the camp, and having summoned the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the divine message. Their answer was, ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do’ (Exodus 19:8). Thus they entered into a solemn covenant with God, pledging themselves to accept Him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of His authority.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 303.
The new covenant is for you just as it was for Israel at Mount Sinai. Jesus wants to make you a citizen of that Holy nation in the kingdom of glory.
Israel was now no longer a patriarchal family but more the size of a small nation. While they camped at Mt. Sinai, God replaced the patriarchal family altar with a sanctuary building. The services were also greatly expanded at this time. Moses was given complete instructions for the construction of the sanctuary after the pattern of the sanctuary in heaven. Exodus 25:8 and 9 states: “Then have them make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” [Emphasis added.] That new covenant has a sanctuary in heaven and Paul says in Hebrews 8:1, 2, “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.”
The Great Controversy page 413 says, “Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their service; in this, Christ, our great High Priest, ministers at God’s right hand. One sanctuary was on earth, the other is in heaven.”
The sanctuary on earth was a copy of the new covenant sanctuary in heaven. “The term ‘sanctuary,’ as used in the Bible, refers, first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and, secondly, to the ‘true tabernacle’ in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed.
“At the death of Christ the typical service ended. The ‘true tabernacle’ in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant.” Ibid., 417.
For four thousand years the people showed their faith in the new covenant through the sacrifice of the lamb without blemish. Thus the faith of the Israelites in a Redeemer to come to ratify the new covenant was kept alive for 4000 years through the sacrificial system.
At the first advent of Christ major changes took place in the administration of the new covenant and the sanctuary services. One of the first things Jesus did when He began His ministry was to direct the minds of the people to His sacrifice and the opening of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven.
“In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. … From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. … In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 161.
At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus made it very clear as to the purpose of His mission on earth. His objective was to free men from sin so that He could bring them into harmony with the divine will and place them where they could obey the law of God. Jesus wanted to inform the people that the services in the sanctuary on earth would end when He died on the cross. He desired them to understand that as soon as the new covenant was ratified with His blood, which was shed on the cross, He would open the holy place in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. It would be in the holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant that for eighteen centuries Jesus ministered on behalf of His people. “The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father.” The Great Controversy, 421. This is the truth that He tried to teach them from the very beginning of His ministry.
“Now when they asked for a sign, He answered them by a parable, showing that He read their malice, and saw to what lengths it would lead them. ‘Destroy this temple,’ He said, ‘and in three days I will raise it up’ (John 2:19).” Ibid., 164.
In The Desire of Ages it says that Jesus had both temples in mind when He made this declaration: the temple of His body and the temple building.
“In these words His meaning was twofold. He referred not only to the destruction of the Jewish temple and worship, but to His own death—the destruction of the temple of His body.” Ibid.
In this statement, Christ was directing the minds of all to the opening of the new covenant sanctuary in heaven. First He was calling their attention to His sacrifice to ratify the new covenant; He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Connected with His death was the destruction of the sanctuary on earth.
“The entire plan of sacrificial worship was a foreshadowing of the Saviour’s death to redeem the world. There would be no efficacy in these offerings when the great event toward which they had pointed for ages was consummated.
“Since the whole ritual economy was symbolical of Christ, it had no value apart from Him. When the Jews sealed their rejection of Christ by delivering Him to death, they rejected all that gave significance to the temple and its services. … In putting Christ to death, the Jews virtually destroyed their temple. When Christ was crucified, the inner veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, signifying that the great final sacrifice had been made, and that the system of sacrificial offerings was forever at an end.” Ibid., 165.
When Jesus died on the cross, both the temple of His body and the temple building were destroyed, just as He stated at the first cleansing of the temple.
At this point a major change was made in the way the new covenant was to be administered for the fallen race. The fact that Jesus raised the temple of His body on the first day of the week, three days after He was crucified is well known by all Christians today. One of the greatest celebrations of the Christian church is Easter in honor of His resurrection, but few Christians understand how he raised the temple building on the third day, the same day that he rose from the grave. We see no celebrations in the Christian church in recognition of this grand event in which all heaven celebrated. The Bible tells us that as soon as Jesus raised the temple of His body He ascended to heaven to open the holy place of the sanctuary in heaven. John 20:17 says, “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Jesus ascended the third day following His death to confirm with His Father the ratification of the new covenant. The Desire of Ages, page 790 says,
“Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He had the assurance that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son.”
Jesus had to return to earth the same day because the disciples failed to understand why Jesus died on the cross. They had lost sight of the new covenant promise to bring them back into harmony with the Divine will and to place them where they could obey the law of God. What should have been a time of great rejoicing and praising God and Christ for ratifying the new covenant for their redemption was a time of sorrow and discouragement because they were walking in the shadow of the cross. On the way to Emmaus Jesus explained to the disciples that His death on the cross was to ratify the new covenant with His blood so He could begin His work as our High Priest in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven.
Forty days later, Jesus ascended again to heaven to be inaugurated as our High Priest in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. No longer did the repentant sinner need to place his hands on the head of the lamb and confess his sin and then slay the animal so his sin could be transferred to the sanctuary. He could now go directly to Jesus, the slain Lamb of God, in the holy place of the sanctuary in heaven.
Everything in heaven was ready for the return of Jesus. Revelation 5:6 states: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.” Jesus had just arrived from His ascension. The Desire of Ages, pages 833 and 834 gives us a detailed description of His arrival in heaven.
“All heaven was waiting to welcome the Saviour to the celestial courts. As He ascended, He led the way, and the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection followed. The heavenly host, with shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended the joyous train. …
“There is the throne, and around it the rainbow of promise. There are cherubim and seraphim. The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God, the representatives of the unfallen worlds, are assembled. …, all are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.”
Then Jesus interrupts the celebration. In The Desire of Ages, page 834, we are told:
“But He waves them back. Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming. … Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has fulfilled. When upon the cross He cried out, ‘It is finished,’ He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, O My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, ‘I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am’ (John 19:30; 17:24).
“The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ’s toiling, struggling ones on earth are ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (Ephesians 1:6). … The Father’s arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’ (Hebrews 1:6).”
The entire universe then begins the celebration of the ratification of the new covenant for the lost race. The celebration is described in The Desire of Ages, 834.
“With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing’ (Revelation 5:12).
“Songs of triumph mingle with the music from angel harps, till heaven seems to overflow with joy and praise. Love has conquered. The lost is found. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever’ (Revelation 5:13).”
And the Holy Spirit confirms the inauguration on the day of Pentecost as told in The Acts of the Apostles, 38.
“When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.”
All of this activity is so you can have eternal life and have the privilege one day to sit with Christ on His throne. This covenant is for you.
For the next 1800 years Jesus ministered in the holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. The Great Controversy, page 421 tells us, “For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record.”
With the proclamation of the first angel’s message and Daniel 8:14, the final work in the completion of the new covenant began in Heaven. The first angel’s message was given to preach the eternal gospel (the new covenant) to the world and to announce the beginning of the investigative phase of the judgment, which began on October 22, 1844. Two more phases of the judgment follow, one during the millennium, and the other after the end of the millennium. These three phases of the judgment complete the last event of the new covenant.
One of the first things Jesus did after entering the most holy place was to dispatch the third angel with his message to the world. This message is found in Revelation 14:9–12. Verse 12 says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” These people have accepted the new covenant. They are keeping the ten commandments. Early Writings, page 254–256 tells us, “As the ministration of Jesus closed in the holy place, and He passed into the holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, He sent another mighty angel with a third message to the world. … The third angel closes his message thus: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Revelation 14:6). As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary. The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers. …
“I saw the third angel pointing upward, showing the disappointed ones the way to the holiest of the heavenly sanctuary. As they by faith enter the most holy, they find Jesus, and hope and joy spring up anew.
“It was represented to me that the remnant followed Jesus into the most holy place and beheld the ark and the mercy seat, and were captivated with their glory.”
“… the third angel was pointing them to the most holy place, and those who had had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly sanctuary. Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels’ messages, and gladly received them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly sanctuary. These messages were represented to me as an anchor to the people of God. Those who understand and receive them will be kept from being swept away by the many delusions of Satan.” Ibid., 256.
The wise virgins understood this message. The Great Controversy, page 427 says, “In the parable it was those that had oil in their vessels with their lamps that went in to the marriage. Those who, with a knowledge of the truth from the Scriptures, had also the Spirit and grace of God, and who, in the night of their bitter trial, had patiently waited, searching the Bible for clearer light—these saw the truth concerning the sanctuary in heaven and the Saviour’s change in ministration, and by faith they followed Him in His work in the sanctuary above. And all who through the testimony of the Scriptures accept the same truths, following Christ by faith as He enters in before God to perform the last work of mediation, and at its close to receive His kingdom—all these are represented as going in to the marriage.”
This urgent counsel is given:
“Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment [part of the new covenant] should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. …
“All who have received the light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.” Ibid., 488.
Most important: “The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, ‘whither the forerunner is for us entered.’ (Hebrews 6:20). … The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; … Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God.” Ibid., 489.
This new covenant is for you.
[All emphasis supplied.]
Maurice Hoppe is Director of the Steps to Life training programs and a member of the Steps to Life Board. The Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders is a correspondence course that prepares individuals to serve as pastors or Bible workers. Preparing for the Final Conflict is a correspondence course for the laity. Both of these courses teach present truth that will be an anchor for the soul during the storm of opposition and persecution just ahead. He and his wife also have a correspondence course offered through Revelation Ministry. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.