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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 42 : Take, Eat, and Drink | Day 290

Embrace the New Covenant!

Flashes of lightning, claps of thunder, smoke, and fire accompanied the establishment of the old covenant. (See Exodus 19.) A quiet dinner setting was the atmosphere when the new covenant was instituted. God designed the old covenant for the entire nation of Israel. The new covenant is for any individuals whom God is making into “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people" (I Peter 2:9). God desires that each person would enter into this new covenant with Him by repenting of sin and turning to God. This is made possible through faith by trusting in the finished work of Christ for salvation (see Galatians 3 and II Peter 3:9).

Both covenants were accompanied by promises for obedience and penalties for disobedience (see Deuteronomy 29:1, 9, 19-21 and I Corinthians 11:25-31). The old covenant was dated, while the new covenant is everlasting. “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13). The old covenant was based on the blood of animals, but the new covenant is based on the blood of Christ.

If the blood of animals purified the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ "purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God"? (See Hebrews 9:13-14.)

When Jesus told His disciples to drink of the cup, in essence He was asking them to remember the terms of the new covenant in His blood. Covenants involve certain elements that make them binding. First, there is a statement of terms that must be agreed upon by all parties involved. Second, there is an oath made by each party to observe the terms. Third, a curse is invoked by each party upon himself if the covenant is disregarded. Finally, there is a formal ratification of the covenant by a solemn external act. (See Genesis 26:28-30, 31:44-54; Ezekiel 17; and Deuteronomy 27:15-26.)

That "solemn act" of ratification of the new covenant was the shedding of Jesus's blood on the cross. Just as the old covenant had penalties for violations, so there are serious consequences for violating the terms of the new covenant, which are these: to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as Christ has loved us (see Luke 10:27 and John 15:12).

Jesus instituted the new covenant during the Last Supper, which took place at the precise time that the Jews were celebrating the Passover feast, thus signifying that He was the Passover lamb to be sacrificed for the new covenant (see I Corinthians 5:7). The Passover commemorated the Israelites' deliverance from the oppression of Egypt. Through His death, Jesus unveiled a far greater deliverance from sin and all of its destructive bondage.

However, in order for that bondage to be broken, each one of us must enter the new covenant through faith in Christ. When Jesus stated, "Take, eat ... and ... Drink” (Matthew 26:26-27) He was speaking in symbolic terms, affirming our need to receive the sacrificial lamb and feed upon Him for our spiritual growth. (See John 1:12, 6:56-58.)

Just as Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart ..." (Jeremiah 15:16), let's do the same with the terms and message of the new covenant--particularly the teachings of Christ.

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard