As I continue unpacking (though briefly!) the biblical story, I continue today with Part 7: The New Covenant and the Coming of the True King…
The New Covenant: The King Sets All Things Right Again
The Coming of the King
Despite the failure of his people, God remained faithful to them. While they were in exile, he continued to give them his good word, which provided for future hope. God promised a new exodus, a new creation, a new temple, a new David, and a new covenant. The new covenant, which would be made through the new Davidic King, would be an everlasting covenant.
Though Israel returned to the Promised Land, the promises of God remained unfulfilled. Many years passed until God again revealed himself to his people.
God’s word returned because the most important event in history took place. This event changed everything. The event that changed the world is the coming of the Messiah. Jesus as the seed of Abraham and David, the promised one coming to defeat God’s enemy, restore God’s people, and bring God’s blessings.
Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus is presented as a new Adam. He is the true Son of God, the obedient Son who fulfills everything God intended for humanity. He is the true Son of Man who faced the temptation of Satan, yet remained without sin. He perfectly ruled over creation, even calming the stormy sea.Jesus is also a new Israel. Just as Israel left Egypt, crossed the sea, entered the wilderness and faced temptation, so Jesus left Egypt, passed through the water of baptism, entered the wilderness and faced temptation. However, where Israel failed, Jesus was victorious over the enemy of God. In and through him, God will create a new people, a new family. Israel would still be the people of God, but only as they place their faith in Jesus. This new identification of the people of God as those who belong to Jesus will also include non-Israelites.
Jesus is presented as the coming prophet. The Gospel of John particularly emphasizes that Jesus is the prophet like Moses who would come to perfectly speak God’s word. Jesus is the true King, the new David. He is the one who would reign forever. Jesus spoke much about the kingdom of God, which is established through his work. That is, when the king comes, the kingdom is present.
All of these things we have mentioned – new Adam, new Israel, new Moses, prophet, and King – come together in one man, Jesus. Jesus is the promised Messiah. He came preaching the gospel – the good news that God is faithful to keep his covenant promises. The good news that Jesus the King has come to take away sin and to restore God’s fallen people and world. At the announcement of the good news, Jesus calls people to repent and believe. They are to repent by turning away from their false understandings of the world and their rebellion against God. They are to believe in Jesus as their only hope. They are to believe in the truth of Jesus, the promised seed who alone can set things in right order. They are to give him their full allegiance.
However, he is not the conquering war hero that many expected. He did not come to defeat human foes with military might. Rather, he came to defeat the ultimate enemies – Satan, sin, and death. The shocking thing about Messiah Jesus is that his mission was completed through suffering.
The death of the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament, yet it is shocking that the Son of God would come to die. His death was substitutionary – the king died for his people. In dying on the cross, Jesus took away the hostility between God and man. From the very beginning, God said that the penalty for sin is death. Jesus offers forgiveness through his death on the cross. His death brings about the redemption promised since the sin of Adam and Eve.
It is through suffering and death that the Messiah brings salvation to his people. In announcing his birth, Matthew records the angel proclaiming that Jesus would save his people from their sin. Jesus does this through his death on the cross. Salvation includes all aspects of humanity. People’s place with God is restored. He takes away the shame we brought on ourselves through our sin. He restores God’s family by dealing with the sin that produced enmity between God and people. He brings God’s blessings in establishing a new covenant with all those who believe in him.
The good news does not conclude with the death of Jesus, for on the third day he rose from the dead. His resurrection completes his earthly mission. In raising from the dead, Jesus delivered the decisive blow to all enemies – Satan, sin, and death. He rose to new life and is able to give life to others. The resurrection demonstrates that Jesus is the true Son of God, the true King, the forever King.
Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of the new creation. Through his resurrection, God’s people are being restored and his world is being made new.
The earthly life of Jesus ends with his ascension. He returned to the Father to reign as king. However, before he left, he gave his people a new mission. They were to spread the good news of Jesus throughout the whole world and call people to repent and believe. This new mission would be the means through which God would fulfill the original commission given to Adam.