A Fount of Life for the World
The glory of the new covenant
“‘For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant.” (Ezekiel 16:59–60)
The story of the Old Testament, taken as a whole, is one of overwhelming decline. To be sure, it is punctuated throughout with glimpses and bursts of light, but these moments are more like the flickering of a candle than the burning of a strong flame. Over and over again, God’s people fling themselves into rebellion, and over and over again God bears with them in patience and steadfast love. By the time of Ezekiel’s ministry, however, this cycle of rebellion and mercy has run its final course. Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness simply cannot continue: Yahweh’s bride has made herself a whore and all the nations know it.
But into this milieu a new promise comes. After judgment, a new covenant will be made — an everlasting covenant established upon God’s steadfast love and faithfulness which will result in cleansing and restoration, not only for Israel, but for all the nations of the earth. God’s promises to Abraham are not forgotten after all: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).
The fulfilment of this new covenant comes, in the course of time, through the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose broken body and shed blood constitute its foundation and beginning (Lk. 22:20). Through Christ the throne of David is taken up and restored; through Him the kingdom reestablished and Israel made new. Through Him the Spirit is poured out on Yahweh’s bride, rendering her spotless and faithful, and by His cross atonement is made for sin and rebellion. What’s more, Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the assurance of life everlasting for all who come to Him by faith, the sign and seal that reconciliation has been decisively granted and condemnation removed. In other words, Christ has come and conquered sin and death, and the way is therefore open for all who would come to the Father through Him.
The new covenant, then, established upon the steadfast love and faithfulness of God in Christ, is the fountainhead of life for the world. It is the well from which the waters of salvation are drawn and the river that has baptized the nations. Peter, John, and Paul have all drunk from its spring, as have Priscilla and Aquilla, Apollos, Lydia, Martha, Mary, and Stephen. Clement and Polycarp, too, have put their lips to the cup and through them Ignatius, Athanasius, Jerome, and Augustine. Even kings and rulers, from Constantine to Charlemagne to Aethelwulf and Alfred. Countless men and women throughout the earth and across the ages have come to Christ in this covenant and each have lived and died by faith in His name.
The world, therefore, is not the same as it was in the days of the prophets, when God’s people dwelt in darkness and the nations languished. For into the darkness Light has come and a Fount has been opened that has brought life to the world.
Whatever glory or travail future ages might bring, one thing may be said for certain: God’s covenant will stand, His kingdom sure, and Christ will have the prize for which He died — an inheritance of nations!
Dominion Press is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.