Sabbath School Lesson for May 29-June 4, 2021

Teresa’s YouTube channel about the Lesson:

Overview for Lesson 10

Several concepts about the “new” covenant are considered this week. We will see the new covenant more clearly by looking at…

  • how God predicted the failure of the people in keeping His covenant (Sunday)
  • what God’s remedy for that failure is (Monday)
  • whether the basic elements of the covenant have changed (Tuesday)
  • what makes the new covenant better (Wednesday)
  • who is our new covenant priest (Thursday)

In Jeremiah, we find the first mention in the Bible of a new covenant. But, is this covenant different? And if so, in what way? The basic elements we will see are the same, because God never changes. His promises give us the same hope, the same forgiveness of our misguided actions and rotten attitudes, and the same grace to overcome them.

Memory Text: ” ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.’ ” Jeremiah 31:31 RSV

God definitely calls it a new covenant that He has with His people. He reminds them that they are to keep it with love in their hearts. Way back in Deuteronomy 6:5 they were told to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength.

The love He showed to the ancient Israelites, by bringing them out of slavery, or now as we have seen and understand the sacrifice the Messiah made for us on the cross, should call forth from our hearts a desire to keep His commandments. There is nothing new about God’s will for His people. His will and desire is for us to draw close to Him in a loving relationship. That was His purpose since our creation.

Sunday: “Behold, the Days Are Coming…”

Jeremiah 31:31-34 is a passage that should be looked at closely, as we struggle to know what God’s new covenant has for us. Knowing Israel’s history and their failed attempts to keep God’s commandments helps us understand why God must renew the covenant.

Thinking of it as a “renewed covenant” helps us realize that it was only their failure that caused God to pronounce again the covenant promises as He did to Jeremiah.

Even that heart experience was something God had to provide for them. They must choose to serve God and humbly ask for that new heart of flesh that would allow them to be faithful to His commandments.

With God’s law in their hearts, He would be able to work through them to accomplish His mission of reaching the world with the gospel of salvation. Keeping God ever before us, and not stepping out in our own strength and power, is the secret to receiving the covenant blessings.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Jeremiah 31:31, 32 and Revelation 19:7

  • Why did God need to renew His covenant, as Jeremiah says here?
  • What kind of a husband is God to us, and why is Jesus considered the Bridegroom? Who is the Bride today?

Jeremiah 31:33, 34 and Psalm 51:12, 13

  • What happens when God’s law is in our hearts?

Monday: Heart Work

Besides the prophet Jeremiah, Hosea and Ezekiel also spoke of the heart’s involvement in the covenant process. Hosea used the marital relationship to point out the love that the covenant reveals and how we get to “know” God through this close, covenant relationship (Hosea 2:18-20). Ezekiel spoke repeatedly of God giving us a new heart and spirit, making it a heart of flesh rather than stone (Ezekiel 11:19, 18:31, 36:26).

This new heart experience is the foundation of the new covenant Jeremiah talked about. And God is more than willing to impart us that new heart, when we choose Him to be our Lord and Savior.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Hosea 2:18-20 and Jeremiah 31:32

  • Why is it important to remember that God is the “husband”?

Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26

  • What are some of the things that make our hearts like stone?
  • How does it feel after our hearts are changed this way?

Tuesday: Old and New Covenants

Some have tried to point out differences in the old and new covenants. Dispensationalists claim that, previously, salvation was won by works, but the new covenant is by grace alone. Some also think that the old covenant was for the Jews only, but the new covenant is for Gentiles as well.

Both of these assumptions are not totally correct, however. God’s grace is an everlasting feature of His character. Mankind has felt God’s grace from the very day Adam and Eve sinned and God went looking for them in the Garden.  Grace was mentioned specifically in the story of Noah…”But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8. Salvation has always and will always be a product of God’s eternal grace for His created beings.

Likewise, God made it plain that Abraham’s children would be a nation that would bless all the nations around them. Their mission was to reach others outside Israel with the gospel message of saving grace. There is nothing new about God providing the covenant blessings to Gentiles who chose to follow God. God has always encouraged His followers to share the opportunity of a covenant relationship.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Jeremiah 31:33 and Isaiah 57:6, 7

  • What are the covenant promises meant to be for the house of Israel (in Jeremiah), and for the “sons of the foreigners” (in Isaiah)?
  • How can we prevent becoming callous to those of foreign descent, and is this something still of concern in the world today?

Exodus 34:6 and Romans 3:24

  • What examples of God’s grace are found in stories in the Old and New Testaments?

Wednesday: “A Better Covenant”

Just as Jeremiah talked about a “new” covenant, we must wonder why the book of Hebrews calls it a “better” covenant (Hebrews 8:6). The best answer to this question would also be found in Hebrews. Hebrews 9:12 mentions that the blood of Jesus was a greater revelation of God’s love than were the animal sacrifices, which were symbolic representations of the Messiah’s future act of love.

Instead of symbols and types, the ministry and death of the Messiah was more personal. This was an experience that needed little explanation. Jesus’ life and death matched all the prophecies they’d been given, and it illustrated God’s love most effectively.

The sanctuary services were a shadow of the gospel’s message, but Jesus was real and therefore the best revelation of God’s will for our planet (Hebrews 10:1).

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Hebrews 8:6-9

  • Why did the Jews need this better covenant, found in Christ?

Hebrews 9:8-14

  • What made Christ a better revelation?

Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1

  • Why is a shadow a good description of the ancient sacrificial system here?

Thursday: The New Covenant Priest

Hebrews 9:11, 12 identifies the new covenant priest. It’s Jesus Christ, who mediates for us in the heavenly sanctuary (called the “perfect tabernacle not made with hands”). Chapter 8:6, 10 ties this ministry in the courts above with the covenant.

Through the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself we can see clearly the mission of the Messiah. It was to redeem the world from sin. All who choose to serve Him will not experience eternal death. He has paid the price of our redemption by suffering and dying on the cross for us. This act of love qualifies Him to be our High Priest, the One who brings love and justice to the universe.

The veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was torn in the temple in a miraculous fashion from top to bottom, as Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross (Matthew 27:50, 51). Human hands could not have torn the curtain from the top. It could only have come from above.

The tearing of clothes is a practice in the Mideast, and is a sign of grief and/or anger, which certainly must have been the feeling of the heavenly Father as His Son gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. The temple curtain’s tearing indicated the grievous event that had just occurred.

No longer would animal sacrifices be needed and the blood brought into the inner chamber before the ark of the covenant on the Day of Atonement. The atonement was made by the real sacrifice of God’s dear Son, who would be the new and better Mediator of the covenant.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 27:50, 51 and Exodus 26:31-33

  • What was the purpose of the veil (or curtain), and why was there no longer that separation needed in the temple?
  • What did the cherubim (or angels) represent on the veil?
  • Why was the tearing from top to bottom an important observation? What did it indicate?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The Bible reveals that God has renewed His covenant several times. Each time He personally unfolded the plan of salvation to His followers, always aware of the times they were living in.

The covenant might be considered “new” for several reasons. It has always consisted of the same basic covenant promises and blessings, but new information may be added, as the people were ready for it.

Another possibility is that the covenant was lost or forgotten, and was new to the people receiving it. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, contemporary prophets of Israel, lived in times when the covenant had been neglected and idolatry was commonly practiced in Israel. To much of their audience, the covenant must have sounded new. Especially with its emphasis on a new heart and mind.

In New Testament times, we even hear of this new covenant as a better one. This is understandable when you consider all that Christ accomplished by dying as the sacrificial Lamb on the cross. The sacrificial system in the temple was no longer needed when the Lamb of God became flesh.

The book of Hebrews is helpful in understanding the role of Christ as the High Priest, mediating for us in the heavenly sanctuary.  Christ, as our Mediator, is an important concept to understand. Since perfect obedience is the condition of our eternal life, we must turn to our Mediator, the Messiah, who alone has never sinned.

It is His righteousness that we must rely on, not our own. We will never be perfect enough, in our sinful state, to meet our sinless Creator. Our dependence on Him can’t be overstated. Any good we might do, out of love for God, comes only from the High Priest and our heavenly Father we have come to love and obey.

Next Week: Sabbath: New Covenant Sanctuary

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