You are hereI Will Make a New Covenant!
I Will Make a New Covenant!
by Don Preston
God’s promise to make a New Covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:29f), is one of the most important promises of the entire Old Covenant. Most Christians today would affirm that we are under a New Covenant. The sacrificial world of Israel has been removed, and Christ’s perfect sacrifice is our atonement. Yet, what is not normally advertised is that the dispensational world does not believe that Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant, has been established.God’s promise to make a New Covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:29f), is one of the most important promises of the entire Old Covenant. Most Christians today would affirm that we are under a New Covenant. The sacrificial world of Israel has been removed, and Christ’s perfect sacrifice is our atonement. Yet, what is not normally advertised is that the dispensational world does not believe that Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant, has been established.There are, in the millennial world, three differing views concerning the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31.
First, some progressive dispensationalists argue that the New Covenant has been “partially fulfilled” in the church. This view is by and large strongly rejected by most classical dispensationalists.
Second, there is what is known as the Two Covenant theory. This view suggest that there are two New Covenants, one for the church, the current gospel of grace, and the other (Jeremiah 31), for Israel exclusively, in the millennium.
Third, the consensus view per Penney, is that the church in no way fulfills the New Covenant promise of Jeremiah 31, but that the church is nonetheless, “somehow ‘receiving the benefits’ from the New Covenant.”1
The consensus among millennialists is that the New Covenant has not yet been established with Israel. If however, it can be shown that the New Covenant has indeed been established, in the words of Penney, “there is no pre-tribulational rapture.”2 Walvoord says that if it could be proven that the New Covenant has been established, “it would be a crushing blow to the premillennial contention that there is a future kingdom.”3 Pentecost says that, “If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the New Covenant or anywhere in the scriptures, then (dispensational) premillennialism is condemned.”4
In order to make this article brief, allow me to outline the millennial concept of the New Covenant.
1.) God promised to make the New Covenant with Judah and Israel, not with the church.
2.) Due to Israel’s rebellion and unbelief, the church has temporarily replaced Israel in God’s program. Israel’s kingdom program has been suspended and postponed until the rapture. Ice cites Gentry, who says that the church has superceded Old Israel for all time, and responds by saying: “I could almost agree with his definition if he removed the phrase ‘all time.’ We dispensationalists believe that the church has superseded Israel during the current church age, but God has a future time in which He will restore national Israel ‘as the institution for the administration of divine blessings to the world.’”5
3.) At the rapture, the church will be removed from this world, and God will resume His kingdom program with Israel.
4.) Israel signs the peace treaty with the anti-christ, and, “Judaism is revived, and traditional sacrifices and ceremonies are re-instituted in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.”6
5.) The anti-christ breaks the treaty with Israel, the Great Tribulation occurs, and at its worst point, Jesus descends from heaven for the destruction of the forces of evil, and the millennial reign ensues.
6.) With the salvation of Israel in the millennium, Jeremiah’s promise of the New Covenant is finally realized.
7.) Under the Jeremiad Covenant, Jerusalem is fully restored. Jesus sits on the literal throne of David. The temple is rebuilt (again). The priesthood is restored. Animal sacrifices are re-instituted. Circumcision is once again mandated by God.
Now, in the larger work on this topic, I examine a great many of these issues and claims, demonstrating them to be false. For our purposes here, I want to ask, what happens to the gospel of Christ when this proposed Jeremiad covenant is established, and the temple cultus is restored?
MILLENNIALISM AND THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
All believers would agree that the gospel of Christ, sanctified by his blood, is a marvelous thing, almost beyond description!
Through and under the gospel we are saved by grace through faith, not by Law.
Through and under the gospel all men in Christ are one. There are not to be any ethnic, social, political, economic, or other barriers between us.
Through and under the gospel man is free from the restrictions of the Old Law and being judged in regard to meat, drink, new moons, feast days, and the observance of days, weeks, months and years (Galatians 4; Colossians 2).
Through and under the gospel the law of circumcision as a characteristic identifying mark of the child of God is removed, for we receive the circumcision of the heart, a circumcision not made with hands, in faith and baptism (Colossians 2:11-12).
Through and under the gospel all believers are priests unto God, to offer up spiritual sacrifices (Hebrews 13:15; Revelation 1:5f).
Through and under the gospel, because we have the forgiveness of sin, animal sacrifices have been abolished because, “where there is remission of sin, there is no more sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:16-18).
Through and under the gospel, we memorialize the deliverance from sin and death through his sacrifice, in our Communion Supper. The Communion Supper is the memorial of deliverance. It is not “for atonement,” but a celebration of atonement.
I do not know of any millennialists that would deny the general validity of these statements. So, why would I state these universally agreed upon doctrines, in our discussion of the promised Jeremiad New Covenant and the proposed millennium? Here is why.
Our millennial friends believe that when the Jeremiad New Covenant is established in the proposed millennium things are different.
1.) In the millennium Jew and Gentile distinctions will be restored. Pentecost says, “Gentiles will be the servants of Israel during that age.”7 When the reign of Jehovah-Jesus is established, “the distinction of Israel from the Gentiles will again be resumed” (Pentecost, 519) He then cites Unger, who says that in the millennium, Israel is blessed directly, and the Gentiles only mediately and subordinately to the Jews--a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.” (Pentecost, 527).
2.) In the millennium those who do not observe the Sabbaths, the new moons, the feast days, the pilgrimages, etc. are condemned by Jehovah This is based on Ezekiel 43-45.
3.) In the millennium, those not circumcised cannot enter Jerusalem to worship, and without this privilege, they are condemned.8
4.) In the millennium, the Levitical priesthood is restored, and the priesthood of all believers is abolished.9
5.) In the millennium, animal sacrifices, now caused to cease, and forbidden due to the efficacious sacrifice of Christ, will be re-instituted and restored.10
6.) In the millennium, the Supper that memorializes our deliverance from sin and death will be abolished, and the animal sacrifices “for atonement” will be restored (Ezekiel 44-45).11
Now, it must be remembered that all of these praxis will be mandated by the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah. So, if the Jeremiad New Covenant will command the observance /restoration of all of these practices, that are now forbidden by, or mandated by the gospel of Christ, we have to ask our question again, what happens to the gospel of Jesus when this proposed Jeremiad covenant is established, and the temple cultus is restored?
THE MILLENNIUM AND THE GOSPEL
We need to ask some more questions at this juncture:
Is the church on earth during the millennium? According to the millennialists it is, having returned with Christ at the parousia.
If the church is on earth in the millennium, what happens to the gospel, Christ’s covenant with the church? What covenant will Christians be under?
Will Christians be under the current covenant of grace that forbids physical circumcision, a genealogically based priesthood, a centralized literal temple, ethnic distinctions, and animal sacrifices? If Christians remain under the covenant of grace, forbidden to do those things, then what happens to them when they do not go to Jerusalem to worship? The millennialists say Zechariah 14 teaches that in the millennium all men must pilgrimage to Jerusalem or be cursed and condemned. What about the Christian who knows that “neither in this mountain or in Jerusalem will men worship the Father,” is his mandate (John 4:20-24)? If, at this juncture, the millennialists says, “Well, that is the way things are now, but that is not how it will be then,” that is our entire point! What happens to the gospel that nullifies geo-centric worship? Is the gospel nullification of geo-centric worship nullified and abrogated?
If the church is on earth during the millennium, what happens to the covenant of grace if a Christian refuses to be circumcised? Paul said, “in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but the new creation” (Galatians 6:15), or, “I say to those of you who are circumcised that you are a debtor to keep the whole law” (Galatians 5:1-4), “those of you who seek to be justified by the Law (via circumcision, DKP), you are fallen from grace.” Yet, according to the millennial tenets, no one that is uncircumcised can approach the Lord (Ezekiel 44:9). So, is the Christian under the covenant of grace that forbids circumcision, or under the Jeremiad covenant that will ostensibly demand circumcision?
A brief word here about circumcision. W. D. Davies is certainly correct to note:
“To the unsympathetic mind, the observance of the Law, centering in the minutea of dietary laws and table-fellowship, could not but appear, at worst, antiquated superstition, and, at best, annoying, and anti-social priggishness: circumcision to such a mind could only suggest a barbaric survival. But often in history, as for example, the Puritan controversy over vestments, great issues have been fought in terms of trivia. So in the early church, battles for principles often centered around apparent piccadilloes. Throughout his treatment of circumcision and the Law, remote and pettifogging as they may seem, Paul was concerned with a central question: the nature and constitution of the people of God–its continuity and discontinuity with the Jewish people of history.”12 The issue of circumcision, as Davies suggests, is of foundational importance. Circumcision was inextricably linked with possession of the Land, identity as the people of God, Temple privileges, (Cf. Acts 21), and much more. Thus, for Paul to say, repeatedly, that circumcision was of no value was one of the most theologically loaded, challenging, and even traumatic doctrines he could enunciate!13
Since the church is on earth in the millennium, and since the distinctions between Jews and Gentiles will once again be restored, as Pentecost and others insist, then does that mean that Peter’s words to Cornelius, “you know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation, ” will once again be true, and religiously imposed (Acts 10:28)? When Peter met and ate with Gentiles, but then withdrew from the Gentiles upon the arrival of some of his faithful Jewish brethren, Paul condemned him for his hypocrisy (Galatians 2). Which practice will be approved and mandated in the millennium? If the Jew/Gentile distinctions are restored, does that not mean that Peter was simply “ahead of his time” in his discriminatory actions?
As you can see, there is a real dilemma here. The dispensational insistence that, “That is the way things are now, but not the way things will be in the millennium,” in regard to Christian praxis, is one of the most overlooked or ignored issues in the entire controversy with dispensationalism. This is a huge problem, because it even involves the obedience of saving faith and the differences between now and then in the millennial view. Pentecost says, “The expression of that saving faith will differ from the expressions that are required in the present day, but the sacrifices must be viewed as mere expressions of faith, and not the means of salvation.” (Things To Come, 531). So there you have it, even the very expressions of saving faith that are mandated by the gospel are totally different in the millennium! God’s Word will be fundamentally, radically altered, distorted, and modified, as to be unrecognizable. Let me illustrate this in a way that may seem a bit repetitious, but that will hopefully be helpful.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no geo-centric pilgrimage worship, but then, in the millennium, geo-centric, pilgrimage worship will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no Temple worship mandated, for the church is the Temple of God, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, Temple worship will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no genealogically based priesthood, with exclusive rights to offer liturgical sacrifices, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, the Levitical, exclusionary, genealogically based priesthood will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no animal sacrifice, since Christ’s blood has brought remission of sin, but, then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, animal sacrifices will be offered “for atonement.”
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no mandate to observe new moons, feast days, and Sabbaths, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, all men will be required to observe the feast days, new moons and Sabbaths.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no Jew and Gentile distinction, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, Jew and Gentile distinctions will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no theologically mandated practice of physical circumcision, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, physical circumcision will once again be mandated by God.
As you can see, according to the millennial view of things, the Jeremiad covenant will supposedly restore virtually everything that the gospel now forbids, and will forbid much of what the gospel mandates. Is it possible to so fundamentally alter, distort and pervert the gospel of Christ without completely nullifying it? And if you nullify the gospel, what then of the salvation brought by the gospel?
In light of these dilemmas, we might ask, are two covenants in existence during the millennium? Will the gospel continue to be the law for Christians, while the Jews are under the Jeremiad New Covenant?
To understand the millennial view of these things, I emailed Thomas Ice, one of the leading proponents of dispensationalism today, and with whom I have engaged in several debates. I wanted to have direct input from a contemporary, representative millennialist, so I asked Mr. Ice four questions concerning the New Covenant. I am including that correspondence here.14
1.) Do you believe that the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31/Ezekiel 37 has been established, in any sense at all?
Thomas Ice’s answer: “I believe that the New Covenant is applied to the church today because of the clear statements of Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, and 2 Corinthians 3:6. The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 will be made with ‘the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’ Thus, it is not being fulfilled today, but will be in the millennium for Israel. Ezekiel 37:22 refers to the ‘house of Israel.’ I believe there are many other references that anticipate Israel's New Covenant found throughout the Old Testament (Deut. 29:4; 30:6; Isa. 59:20–21; 61:8–9; Jer. 32:37–40; 50:4–5; Ezek. 16:60–63; 34:25–26; 36:22–32; 37:21–28; Zech. 12:10).”15 2.) If the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31/Ezekiel 37 has been established, is the church, the body of Christ, now living under that Covenant, subject to its mandates, and recipients of its blessings?
Thomas Ice’s answer: “I do not believe that the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 37 has been established yet.”
3.) In the proposed millennium, will there be only one covenant in effect, for all men?
Thomas Ice’s answer: “I am only aware of a single covenant for the millennium.” 4.) Will there be two covenants in effect, applicable to different groups of people? Thomas Ice’s answer: “I do not think so since I only find the New Covenant being referenced in Scripture.” 5.) More specifically, in the proposed millennium, will the church be living under and subject to the gospel, while the Jews live under and are subject to the New Covenant of Jeremiah/Ezekiel? Thomas Ice’s answer: “Since the church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and ends at the rapture, all members of the church (Jew and Gentiles) will be resurrected and reigning at the right hand of Christ as His Bride during the millennium. Since I am not sure of the implications of your statement ‘living under and subject to the gospel,’ I cannot answer that. As I am sure you know, saved Jews and Gentiles who survived the tribulation will enter the millennium in their mortal bodies, having become believers after the rapture. Thus, the millennial rule of Christ will involve Jews and Gentiles under the rule of Christ with His Bride (the Church) reigning and ruling at His right hand (Rev. 3:21).”16
Allow me to express this simply:
There will only be one covenant in effect in the millennium.
That one covenant will be the New Covenant promised in Ezekiel 37 and Jeremiah 31.
The church, and all Jews and Gentiles will be subject to that one covenant, the Jeremiad covenant, in the millennium.
In light of these answers, and Ice is certainly representative of other millennialists in his answers, we have to ask, again, What happens to the gospel –the covenant of grace– in the millennium? The answer can only be that it is the victim of Reverse Replacement Theology. While the gospel has temporarily replaced Israel, the gospel itself is doomed to be permanently replaced by the Jeremiad New Covenant! The gospel is replaced by the revised, revamped, re-instituted Old (New) Covenant.17
There is no way that one can claim that the practices proposed by the dispensational view of the millennial Jeremiad covenant will or could be, in any way whatsoever, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The millennial practices proposed by the dispensational construct are, in the words of Unger cited by Pentecost above, “a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.”18 Unger is right. Yet, the proposed millennial practices are not only “in diametrical contrast to Christianity,” they are in fact condemned by the gospel of Christ! So, if the things that the millennialists say will be mandated by the Jeremiad New Covenant are in fact God’s will during the millennium, that of necessity demands that the gospel of Christ must be either suspended, altered, rejected, or nullified. You cannot posit the establishment of a New Covenant that will condemn or command the very things that the gospel condemns or commands without thereby demanding the suspension or abrogation of the gospel.19
Paul said that circumcision was nullified by Christ’s gospel, and that to practice it as a command of God nullifies grace and his gospel. How would that not be true in the millennium? The re-establishment of circumcision would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
Paul taught that the practice of Jew and Gentile distinctions is a violation of the oneness for which Christ died. If the Jew and Gentile distinctions are restored, how does this not impugn the gospel for which Christ died? The restoration of ethnic distinctions would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
Paul taught that because of the remission of sin through Christ’s blood, animal sacrifices are abolished. If therefore animal sacrifices are restored “for an atonement,” just exactly how does this not demand a rejection of Christ’s sacrifice? The restoration of animal sacrifices would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
Paul said that he was “afraid” of the Galatians (4:8f, and Colossians), for allowing themselves to be judged on whether they observed feast days, new moons, Sabbaths and eating restrictions. If those observances are mandated by the Jeremiad New Covenant, what happens to Paul’s command not to be judged by those things? The restoration of the imposition of cultic feast days would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
What happens to the gospel if the things it now condemns are mandated, and the things it now mandates are forbidden? What happens if the current “expressions of saving faith” are radically altered and transformed into a return to the practices now forbidden by the gospel? That would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.” Is it possible to establish a system that is “a diametrical contrast to Christianity,” without that system being in opposition to the gospel? Is it not “anti-gospel” to propose the replacement of the gospel with a system that is “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
The only possible way to resolve this conundrum would be for one of two, or both, things to be true.
1.) The proposed Jeremiad covenant would have to be intrinsically better than the current gospel. Would any millennialist wish to affirm that the proposed Jeremiad covenant is intrinsically better than the gospel?
2.) It would have to be shown that the gospel, due to the coming of the better Jeremiad covenant, was predicted to be replaced. As we will see below, even the millennialists admit that the gospel is better than the old cultic practices, and further, they admit that the gospel of Christ will never pass away or become inoperative!
It will not do to say that Paul was contrasting the Mosaic cultic practices with the gospel, but that it is different in the millennium, because the Jeremiad New Covenant is not a restoration of the Mosaic covenant.20 That is totally irrelevant!
The fact is that the Jeremiad covenant practices proposed by the millennialists are, in essence, the very things that are diametrically opposed to the gospel. Does it matter whether it was the Mosaic Jew and Gentile distinctions, or that it would be the Jeremiad covenant Jew and Gentile distinctions? All such ethnic distinctions and discriminations are forbidden and condemned by the gospel!
It does not matter whether it was animal sacrifices mandated under the Pentateuch, or whether it would be animal sacrifices mandated by the Jeremiad covenant. It did not matter whether it was Abel, Abraham, or whoever, offering animal sacrifices. Abraham’s animal sacrifices were no better than those offered by and under Moses. The fact remains that God never desired the blood of bulls and goats (Hebrews 10:5f), and the very thought of offering bloody animal sacrifices “for atonement,” is tantamount to a rejection of the atonement of Christ.
So, the proposed millennial Jeremiad covenant is nothing less than a rejection of the gospel of Christ. No amount of rationalization can justify the restoration of the things condemned by the gospel, or the rejection of those things mandated by the gospel. Does this not then demand, if the Jeremiad covenant does restore these things, that the gospel will in fact be abolished? According to the millennialists this cannot be.
THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
The idea that the gospel of Christ, the gospel established by his blood, will be replaced, is directly counter to express statements of Scripture, and frankly, a horrid idea. Interestingly, dispensationalists actually agree that the gospel will never be annulled, or removed. In an article attempting (unsuccessfully), to refute some of my writings and statements, Thomas Ice appealed to Matthew 24.35. His topic was the “heaven and earth,” and he was attempting to show that the term is not used metaphorically.21 While I have, and do argue that in Matthew 24.35 Jesus was referring to the Old Covenant Temple as heaven and earth,22 Ice argues: “This passage clearly states that, ‘heaven and earth will pass away’ one day, but in contrast to that Christ’s words ‘shall not pass away.’ In order to strengthen the emphasis upon the absolute impossibility of His words passing away, Christ uses not one, but two Greek words that mean ‘not,’ (grouped together), to say that something will not happen. ‘The double negative ou me with the subjunctive is the usual form for the emphatic negation,’ notes Randolph Yeager.23 Lenski agrees and says that ou me is used ‘all-inclusively’ and calls it ‘the strongest negation.”24 Arnold Fruchtenbaum, often cited by Ice and LaHaye, says, “The law of Christ will never be rendered inoperable.”25 About all I can say to this is, Amen!
As Ice insists, Jesus was emphatically telling his disciples that his word will never pass away. That could not be clearer, and that is precisely what I affirm. However, what is the word of Christ? Is it not the gospel? Can anyone, would anyone, deny that? Follow closely.
The word of Jesus Christ will never pass away (Matthew 24.35, Ice concurs).
The word of Christ is the current gospel, the covenant of grace.
Therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ–the current covenant of grace will never pass away!
What that means should be obvious:
The current gospel of Christ will never pass away.
But the current gospel of Christ forbids animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc..
Therefore, the current gospel of Christ, since it will never pass away, will never cease to forbid animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc..
To use the words of Fruchtenbaum:
The gospel of Jesus Christ will never be rendered inoperative.
But the gospel of Christ forbids animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc..
Therefore, the prohibition of animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc. will never be rendered inoperative.
What Ice needed Jesus to say was, “My word–The covenant of grace--will stand until it is taken out of the way so that Jeremiah’s new millennial covenant it established.” Of course, Ice cannot produce any passage that even remotely suggests that the gospel of Christ will ever be removed, abrogated, superceded, or mitigated in any way. The current kingdom of Christ cannot be moved (Hebrews 12.28), and the Church age is the “age without end” (Ephesians 3.20f).
So, according to the millennial view, the gospel will never be rendered inoperable. Yet, the gospel forbids and condemns virtually every aspect of the proposed Jeremiad covenant so foundational to the millennial view.
If the Jeremiad covenant commands animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc., but the gospel forbids animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc., what shall inhabitants of the millennium do? Which covenant do they obey?
Remember that Ice says there will only be one covenant in force in the millennium, and that is the Jeremiad covenant. The question then demands to be answered, what happens to the unendingly operative gospel that stands in total opposition to the Jeremiad covenant?
Remember that Ice says that the church and Gentiles and Jews are all on earth together under Christ, subject to only one covenant, the covenant that Unger says is, “a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.” But how can the church, that is currently subject to the unendingly operative gospel that forbids ethnic distinctions, animal sacrifices, physical circumcision, temple worship, etc. ever be in subjection to a covenant that is “a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.” Yet, the dispensationalists insist that the Jeremiad covenant– not the gospel-- is the one and only covenant that will be in effect in the millennium, and that all men, including the church, will be subject to that covenant that stands in diametrical contrast to Christianity!
There is no way to over-emphasize the inescapable dilemma of the dispensational paradigm in regard to the New Covenant.
They cannot argue that the gospel will be removed or altered, without denying the emphatic declarations of the Bible, not to mention their own declarations that the gospel will never become inoperative.
They cannot argue that there will be two covenants in existence in the millennium, without violating their own writings that there will only be one covenant in the millennium, the Jeremiad covenant.
They cannot argue that the gospel will still be present but not observed, for that nullifies the gospel.
They cannot argue that the gospel is the covenant of the millennium, for the gospel forbids the fundamentals of the millennium as posited by the dispensationalists.
The only way for the millennialist to argue for the establishment of the Jeremiad covenant, as the law of God for all people in the millennium, is nullify, abrogate or suspend the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our dispensational friends often castigate non-millennialists for preaching “replacement theology.” Perhaps it is time for our friends to consider the consequences of their doctrine.
Dispensationalism would replace the blood bought covenant of grace with the Jeremiad covenant that cannot be the covenant Jesus died to establish, for he died to establish the gospel and the church (Acts 20:28). But the gospel and the church stand diametrically opposed to the things that our millennial friends say will exist in the millennium under the Jeremiad covenant. Did Jesus die to establish two covenants, one that condemns the other? Did Jesus die to establish both the gospel and the Jeremiad covenant, the gospel that condemns animal sacrifices, circumcision, and discrimination, but the Jeremiad covenant that will restore those things?
Dispensationalism would replace the spiritual temple as the body of Christ, with a physical edifice.
Dispensationalism would replace the spiritual priesthood of all believers, with the Zadokite priesthood.
Dispensationalism would replace equality in Christ, with the Jew / Gentile discriminatory practices.
Dispensationalism would replace the spiritual circumcision of the heart, with physical circumcision.
Dispensationalism would replace the atonement of Christ with the offering of bulls and goats for atonement.
I think it is time to ask, who is it that teaches a dangerous replacement theology?
The final word on the New Covenant is that Christ’s gospel gives today, every thing that the promised Jeremiad covenant promised. The gospel is everlasting (cf. Isaiah 55:3).26 It is the covenant of peace (Ezekiel 37: 26). Through the blood of Christ, those who enter that New Covenant have the forgiveness of sins. No future covenant could give anything better, and the New Covenant proposed by the millennial construct is not a better covenant, based on better promises, with a better hope, than the gospel, nor could it ever be.
We began this article by asking, what happens to the gospel of Christ when the proposed Jeremiad covenant is established, and the temple cultus is restored? We have shown that in the millennial paradigm it is fundamentally essential that the gospel of Christ be nullified and replaced by a system that is, “a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.” And yet, according to scripture, and even the millennialist’s own words, there will never be a time when the gospel is inoperative. Since the gospel gives what the promised Jeremiad covenant was to give, we conclude that the gospel of Christ is the promised Jeremiad covenant. Further, since the gospel can never be removed or replaced, we conclude that there cannot be another covenant, in any proposed millennium, that will supercede or replace the gospel of Christ.
God kept His word. The New Covenant has been established by Christ through his death. There is not another covenant coming, and to suggest that there is, especially another covenant that in every respect stands in opposition to the gospel, is surely a dangerous thing to do.
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Please notify Don K. Preston if/when you utilize this article.
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What follows is a heavily edited and revised portion of a larger MSS that I am preparing on the topic of the New Covenant. Hopefully, that work will be published at some point in the not too distant future.
1 The suggestion that the church is somehow receiving the benefits of a non-existent covenant is the epitome of sophistry. How can anyone receive the benefits of something that does not exist? That is somewhat like saying, “I don’t have a million dollars in the bank, but I receive the benefits of that (non-existent), million dollar account!”
2 Russell L. Penney, Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Tx., “The Relationship of the Church to the New Covenant.” Internet article at: www.conservativeonline.org/journals/02_07_journal/1998v2n7_id05.htm
3 John Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1991)186
4 Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1957)116
5 Pre-Trib Perspectives, P. O. Box 14111, Arlington, Tx., Vol. VII, Number 3, August 2002
6 Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, Prophecy Watch, (Eugene, Ore, Harvest House, 1998)60
7 Things to Come, 508
8 The question of circumcision in the millennium is one that dispensationalists do not, understandably, like to discuss. However, in countless private discussions, and in formal public debates, I have asked millennialists if circumcision will be required in the millennium, and the invariable answer has been “Yes.” They have no recourse but to believe this based on Ezekiel 44:9.
9 Here is another theme that is disturbing to the millennialists. They like to deny that the Levitical priesthood will be restored, insisting instead that it will be a Zadokite priesthood. This is obfuscation. The Zadokites were Levitical!
10 In a radio debate with noted dispensationalist J. Randall Price, I asked him if animal sacrifices would be restored in the millennium, in light of the fact that Christ’s sacrifice now abolishes them. He answered that while animal sacrifices are now abolished in Christ, that, “this does not mean that is the way it will be in the millennium.” Debate is archived on www.lighthouseworldministries.com.
11 Dispensationalists are very divided on the issue of the purpose of sacrifices in the millennium. Scofield insisted that they were to be memorial (Bible foot note on Ezekiel 43). On the other hand, Ice and Demy insist that this is not accurate stating that the millennial sacrifices “are for atonement rather than memorial.” (Prophecy Watch, 261)
12 W. D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land, (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1974)171
13 In my first public debate in 1983, I used the issue of circumcision as the basis of much of my argumentation. My dispensational opponent was totally unprepared to deal with the issue, and I have not found a dispensationalist that is. The nullification of circumcision effectively says that God’s promises to Abraham and to Israel were fulfilled, and all of the physical, external markers of her as a distinctive covenant people were now nullified. Interestingly, not many authors deal with circumcision and its profound implications for dispensationalism, and this is a bit perplexing to me. I have been working on a mss for three years dealing with this crucial issue.
14 I am giving Ice’s answers in their entirety, cut and pasted from his post, to avoid Ice’s oft repeated charge that I misrepresent his positions. While he makes that charge, he has never documented a single instance of that being true. In our public debate in Florida, October, 2003, Ice, during one of the breaks, charged me with misrepresenting his position. During the rest of the debate, when I quoted anything from Ice’s writings, I said, “This is what is found in Thomas’ writings. If he does not agree with the position I am citing from his books, he can please tell us what he really does believe.” He did not offer to correct a single one of my citations. During an earlier radio debate, I quoted directly from one of his books, (Prophecy Watch), in regard to Acts 2 and Joel 2. He vehemently denied that the quote was in the book, or that he believed what I was quoting, maintaining that I was misrepresenting him. I denied the charge and offered to verify the quote to him or to anyone else. The next day, Ice emailed me, asking for documentation for the quote. I immediately sent him the page number. He finally responded that the quote was in fact in the book, but that he did not believe what was written! He said the quote was from the co-author of the book (Timothy Demy), but that he, Ice, did not believe in the position stated by Demy. The fact is, I had not misrepresented the position stated in the book, nor would I ever knowingly misrepresent Ice’s position, or anyone else’s.
15 As noted above, exactly how it is that the church can have the blessings of a non existent covenant applied to it, is not explained by Ice or any other dispensationalist. It is simply asserted. This is disingenuous at best.
16 Email exchange 3-7-05. Hard copies of the exchange on file.
17 We must note that millennialists are adamant that the millennial Covenant is not the restoration of the Mosaic Covenant. They insist that the Mosaic Covenant has been forever “fulfilled and discontinued.” (Ice, Watch, 258). However, it is maintained that the Jeremiad Covenant will be a mixture of Mosaic Covenant elements, and new elements added. Of course, this invites the reader to ponder that Jesus emphatically said you do not put new wine into old skins. This is self destructive (Mark 2.22). Pentecost admits the Mosaic system and the millennial system are “strangely alike” (Things to Come, 519). Indeed, with a restored Land, Jerusalem, Temple, Levitical priesthood, altar, sacrifices, etc, all virtually identical to the Mosaic institutes, one is hard pressed to justify saying that the millennial worship is not in fact the restoration of the Mosaic Covenant.
18 I must confess my personal shock and abhorrence of the very idea that any Christian would espouse and promote the replacement of the blood bought gospel of Christ and the church, “with a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.” Is this not an “anti-Christian” message? Does this not impugn Christ’s work? I am convinced by many years of dialogue with dispensationalists, that the average person “in the pews” is not aware of what is being taught by the leading proponents of dispensationalism, and would in fact recoil in horror upon realizing that dispensationalism advocates the removal of Christianity and its replacement with “a state of things in diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
19 In the first century transitional period, the Old Covenant was “nigh unto passing away” (Hebrews 8:13), while the New Covenant was being revealed. The clash between the two covenant worlds is found on virtually every page of the New Testament. So, if there was a conflict between the two covenant worlds in the first century, as one covenant passed and another was instituted, how much more would this be the case if the gospel and the proposed Jeremiad covenant were to exist side by side? In the first century, one covenant had to pass because it was inferior, because was old, etc. Which covenant would/will have to give way in the millennium? Which covenant is better?
20 We must emphasize here that Paul condemned circumcision, as noted above. Circumcision was not a strictly Mosaic Covenant practice. It was Abrahamic! Thus, Paul’s rejection of circumcision is a total refutation of the idea that the Mosaic Covenant has been forever removed, but that the Abrahamic covenant has not been fulfilled. Nothing was more central to the Abrahamic covenant than circumcision, and Paul unequivocally said that circumcision had lost its theological significance because of the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises.
21 Ice’s contention that the term “heaven and earth” is not used metaphorically falls to the ground in Matthew 5.17f. Jesus said “until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the Law, until it is all fulfilled.” The topic here is the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus said “heaven and earth” would not pass until the entirety of that Mosaic Torah was fulfilled. Thomas Ice believes that the Mosaic Torah has indeed passed away (Prophecy Watch, 258). If therefore, the Mosaic Law has passed away, then the “heaven and earth” of Matthew 5 has passed away. The dilemma here is acute for Dr. Ice. If he admits that the “heaven and earth” term is used metaphorically here, then his contention that the term is never so used falls to the ground. On the other hand, if he maintains his denial that the term is used metaphorically, then that means that until literal “heaven and earth” passes away, then the Mosaic Torah remains valid. This would demand that the Mosaic Law remains valid today. Ice cannot have it both ways.
22 See my book, The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, for an in-depth demonstration that the Jews did use the term heaven and earth metaphorically, and they used that term to refer to the Temple in Jerusalem. The book can be purchased from my website: www.eschatology.org, or from Amazon.com.
23 Randolph O. Yeager, The Renaissance New Testament, 18 vols. (Bowling Green, KY: Renaissance Press, 1978), vol. 3. p. 322.
25 Arnold Fruchtenbaum, CTS Journal, vol. 5, #4, (1999) 6
26 Note that in Isaiah 55 God would make the everlasting covenant when he gave Israel’s Messiah the “sure mercies of David.” In Acts 13:34f, Paul stated emphatically– citing Isaiah-- that God had given Christ the “sure mercies of David.” This is inspired testimony that the New Covenant promises to Israel were even then being fulfilled.