The New Covenant

INDEX:
*Introduction
*The Early Sacred Agreements
*The Sacred Agreement With IsraEl
*The Penalties
*Who Were Under the Old Sacred Agreement?
*The New Sacred Agreement
*The End of the Old Sacred Agreement
*The Inauguration of the New Sacred Agreement
*What Are the Laws of the New Sacred Agreement?
*The Law of Love
*The Deeds of True Christian Love
*The Agreement for Life in Heaven
*What Will They Do There?
*The Sacred Agreement of Salt
*Two Covenants?
*Why All Christians Should Partake
*Those Who Decline
*Who Are Party to the New Sacred Agreement?
*The Life-Giving DNA
*Who Should Not Partake of the Emblems
*How Should the 'Lord's Supper' Be Observed?
*When Should the 'Lord's Supper' be Observed?
*Was it Wine or Grape Juice?
*Was it Matzos?
*The Importance of a Proper Understanding

Introduction

There are few theological teachings that are less understood by the majority of Christians than the subject of the New Sacred Agreement (Covenant) that Jesus inaugurated with his Apostles during his 'last supper,' just before his death and later resurrection. So, what we will discuss here will start with the 'type' – the 'Old Sacred Agreement' – to show what it involved and pictured, and then we will look at the 'antitype' – the 'New Sacred Agreement' – to see how those prophecies are fulfilled in it, since the first seems to have pictured the last.

The Early Sacred Agreements

The first Sacred Agreement that is mentioned in the Bible is the one that God made with our common forefather Noah (as well as with 'all creation'), where God vowed that He would never again destroy all life on earth with water. And the sign that He provided to remind us of His oath is the rainbow. However, notice that this wasn't really a Covenant between God and Noah, it was just a promise, since nothing was mentioned as being required on the part of Noah or mankind.

The next Sacred Agreement that He made was with faithful Abram (at Genesis 15:18-20), but again this wasn't a two-way agreement, it was just a promise that He would give the land that was then referred to as CanaAn to Abram's descendants.

God thereafter expanded His Sacred Agreement with Abram at Genesis 17:1-14, when He changed his name to AbraHam and promised him that he would become the 'father of a multitude,' his seed would inherit the land of CanaAn, He (Jehovah) would be their God, and that nations and kings would descend from him (AbraHam). However, this time something would be required of AbraHam and his descendants to fulfill their part of the Agreement… all the males who were over eight-days old and lived with him had to be circumcised.

The Sacred Agreement With IsraEl

It is at Exodus 19:5, 6 that we read of God making another Sacred Agreement, this time with the sons of IsraEl (or Jacob) while they were in captivity in Egypt. There He promised them: 'If you will listen to what I say and keep My Sacred Agreement, you will be a special people to Me that will be higher than all other nations. And because the whole earth is Mine, you will become My holy nation and a Kingdom of Priests'

Then notice the blessing that would come to IsraEl if they kept their part of that Agreement, as recorded at Exodus 23:24-33: 'If you serve Jehovah your God, I will bless your bread, your wine, and your water, and I will keep you from getting sick. There won't be anyone in your land who is impotent or infertile, and you will live a full life … all your enemies will run from you … I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the [Mediterranean] and from the desert to the great Euphrates River … I will hand over those who are living in the land and drive them away from you. So, you are to make no treaties with them or their gods.'

We find the children of IsraEl agreeing to fulfill their portion of the Agreement at Exodus 24:7, 8, where it says, 'Next, [Moses] took the scroll of the Sacred Agreement and read it to the people. And they [again] said: 'We will do and pay attention to everything that Jehovah has said. Then Moses took the blood [from the bowls] and sprinkled it on the people, and he said: {Look!} This is the blood of the Sacred Agreement that Jehovah has made with you over the things to which you've agreed.'

We read of the next extension to this Sacred Agreement at Exodus 31:17, 18, where God gave the laws regarding the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments. So, all of God's Laws to IsraEl (including the Ten Commandments) were part of this Agreement.

The Penalties

We then read of the penalties that the IsraElites were to pay if they broke their side of the Agreement at Leviticus 26:14-43:

'However, if you choose not to listen to Me and obey My rules … these are the things that I must do to you … your lives will be shortened … the seeds in your ground won't produce … I will send wild animals into the land and they will eat you and kill your cattle. You will decrease in numbers, and your [land] will become empty … I will bring a famine of bread among you … you will have to eat the flesh of your sons and daughters … I will destroy your cities … then I will scatter you among the nations.'

And no one can deny that all these things truly happened to unfaithful IsraEl and to the Jews, not once, but twice; first at the hands of the Babylonians and then at the hands of the Romans.

But did you notice that this first Sacred Agreement with IsraEl didn't promise an afterlife? It just promised that if the people were faithful they would be blest, and if they weren't faithful they would be cursed. So, while it is true that the IsraElites believed in a hereafter, they had nothing in writing that promised them anything more. So, those who were faithful simply trusted that God had something better in mind for them after they died.

Who Were Under the Old Sacred Agreement?

Who were under the Old Sacred Agreement? The answer to this question is one that seems to elude many Christians today. Obviously, God made His Agreement of 'the Old Law' with descendants of AbraHam, and specifically with the IsraElites, not with any other nation of mankind. So although the Ten Commandments in particular state God's views on many matters, these were never given as part of an agreement with mankind in general. Therefore, people of the nations had no God-given laws or agreements until after the formation of the Christian Congregation, when many accepted the New Sacred Agreement. And as Paul then explained; trying to follow the Old Law was wrong for Christians, because they had come under a new Law, that of Love.

However, the Old Law and Sacred Agreement did apply to those Gentiles (or people of the nations) who lived prior to the time of Jesus and who chose to join IsraEl in the worship of their God Jehovah. Notice, for example, what was said about this at Numbers 15:15, 16: 'There must be just one law for you and for the aliens who live among you … Both you and the aliens that live among you must follow the same laws and regulations.'

So, all the people in ancient IsraEl – the priests, the native peoples, and the non-IsraElite converts – had the same rules and promises.

It has, however, been argued that those non-IsraElite converts who lived in the Promised Land and who worshiped their God were never considered IsraEl. But if they were never considered to be IsraElites, then we must assume that Salmon (who married the CanaAnite prostitute RaHab) and his son Boaz (who married the Moabite woman Ruth) were Law breakers, since God forbade the taking of non-IsraElite women as wives (See Exodus 34:16). Yet, notice that God gave these men (and their non-IsraElite wives) the privilege of becoming ancestors of David, his line of kings, and of Jesus. So we would have to assume that these women, by accepting Jehovah as their God, actually became IsraElites. But these Gentiles who chose to live among them and serve their God Jehovah had to:
Š Follow the rules of circumcision
Š Follow the same laws
Š Offer the same sacrifices
Š Observe the same festivals.

The New Sacred Agreement

However, it was during the time of the Prophet IsaiAh that God mentioned a New Sacred Agreement that would eventually supersede the Old Agreement. Why? Because His people had failed to keep their side of the bargain. Note what He said as recorded at Isaiah 55:3-5:

''I'll proclaim an Agreement with him (Jesus) through the age
For the sacred, trusted things of [King] David.
{Look!} I'll seat him as a proof to the nations…
As a ruler and signal to the peoples.
{Look!} Nations you don't know will call upon him…
Those you don't know will seek refuge in him,
Because of Jehovah, your God…
Because of IsraEl's Most Holy One;
For, He will then glorify you.'

Then we read at Jeremiah 31:31, 32:
'Look… days are coming, says Jehovah,
When I'll make an arrangement with IsraEl's house,
As well as with the houses of Judah.
I'll conclude a New Sacred Agreement
That's unlike the one that I made with their fathers

In the day I took hold of their hands,
To lead them from Egypt's land.
For they failed to keep My Sacred Agreement;
So, I let them go,
says Jehovah.'

As you can see, even before Jerusalem was destroyed and her people were led away to Babylon as captives, God saw the need for a New Sacred Agreement with His people.

What was going to be different about this Agreement? Notice what we are told at Jeremiah 31:33, 34:
This is my Sacred Agreement,
Which I'll make with IsraEl then,
said Jehovah:
I will put My Laws in their minds,
And in their hearts, I will write them;
Then, they'll be My people and I'll be their God.

There's no way they'll then teach their neighbors and brothers,
And tell them to learn of Jehovah!
For, all will know Me, from their small to their great.
Then, I'll be kind toward their sins and their errors…
No more, will such things be remembered!

So according to this scripture, the key differences between the Old Sacred Agreement and the New Sacred Agreement are:
Š The Law of this New Sacred Agreement was to be written on hearts, not on stone or paper
Š Those who are involved in the New Sacred Agreement will enjoy a special relationship with God and have a personal knowledge of Him
Š Their sins will be forgiven.

However, this prophecy wasn't fulfilled until more than six-hundred years later. And like the Old Sacred Agreement, it had to be sealed with blood… the blood of the truly 'perfect lamb,' Jesus.

The End of the Old Sacred Agreement

In the words immediately following the terms of the New Sacred Agreement, you can see that the end to the Old Agreement was described in amazing detail. Notice what was written concerning this at Jeremiah 31:35-37:

'But, this is what Jehovah [has promised]
(The One who appointed the sun
To serve as light for the day,
And the moon and the stars as light for the nights…
The One who brought the roar of the seas,
As well as the sounds of their waves…
Jehovah the Almighty, is His Name):
If these Laws before Me should cease to be,
Then the race of IsraEl will no longer stand
As a nation before Me
Throughout the rest of their days.

'Jehovah says:
If the skies can be raised even higher
And the floor of the ground can be lowered,
I can reject IsraEl's offspring
, says Jehovah,
For all the things that they've done.

When did the (old) Laws cease to be? At Colossians 2:13, 14, Paul wrote, 'Then he kindly forgave all our errors and wiped away the handwritten Law that held us down and oppressed us. He lifted it out of the way and nailed it on the pole.'

So, when they murdered God's Son, the 'race of IsraEl' was rejected 'for all the things that they've done,' just as it was prophesied. And the Old Laws also 'ceased to be' with the death of Jesus… they were spoken of as being nailed to his (impaling) pole.

That this rejection of IsraEl with its Sacred Agreement and its Laws came about, is undeniable! For with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70-CE, the people ceased to be a nation, and their entire form of worship was destroyed with no hope of repair. For their Temple is now gone, and what stands in its place today is a Moslem mosque. Also, there is no more Priesthood, because no one knows which tribe they are from; and in fact, because of this, they can no longer be described as 'the twelve tribes of IsraEl.' Thus their prophesied rejection is total and irreversible.

The Inauguration of the New Sacred Agreement

Since the Jewish days started at sundown, Jesus inaugurated this New Sacred Agreement with his eleven faithful Apostles in an upper room in Jerusalem on the same day that he was to be sacrificed. He did this when he and his Apostles were meeting to celebrate the Passover in the year 33-CE, and he used the same yeast-free bread and wine that was part of the traditional Passover meal, to do this. Notice what Jesus said and did at that time (Matthew 26:26-28):

'As they ate, Jesus took a loaf, and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to the disciples, saying, Take some and eat it, because this is my body. He also took a cup [of wine], and after giving thanks, gave it to them saying, All of you drink out of it; because, this is my blood of the New Sacred Agreement, which will be poured out for many to forgive [their] sins.'

We read the same account at Luke 22:19, 20, which says: 'Then he took a loaf [of bread], gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is my body, which is being handed over for you. Keep doing this in memory of me. And he did the same thing with the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Sacred Agreement of my blood, which is being poured out for you.'

So when the sacrificial blood of Jesus was actually poured out on that following afternoon, God's Old Sacred Agreement with IsraEl, as well as its Laws, became null and void. And that's when the New Sacred Agreement with its Law of Love began. We can see how this was proven by the startling and miraculous thing that happened immediately as Jesus was dying. For the account at Luke 23:44-46 tells us: 'Well, it was already about the sixth hour… and then the whole land became covered by a darkness [that lasted] until the ninth hour, for the sunlight had failed. Then the Temple curtain split down the middle, and Jesus called out in a loud voice, saying: 'Father, I entrust my breath to Your hands.' And after saying that, he died.'

Yes, the sacred curtain that separated the Temple's Most Holy (which pictured the presence of God) was ripped in two by an earthquake, and at that, something new began.

However, notice once again that this New Sacred Agreement offered no promise of a hereafter or of going to heaven! And surely, if such an important thing was to be (as most 'Christian' religions claim), it had to de mentioned as part of the contract or Agreement! However, all that was promised in the prophecy of Jeremiah (which is the only place where we find the terms of this New Sacred Agreement) is that God will put His Laws into their hearts, they will become His people, everyone will then know God, and He will forgive their sins.

It is interesting to notice that in many Bibles, the word New is missing in the account found at Matthew 26:26, when speaking of the Sacred Agreement that Jesus inaugurated at the time. However, this appears to be a copying or translating mistake. For the famous Lamsa translation and the Younan Bible both use the words New Covenant, as does the Shem Tov, the Dutillon, and the Munster Matthew (which are all Hebrew translations). And of course, Luke mentioned the New Sacred Agreement in his account of Jesus' words (Luke 22:19, 20).

What Are the Laws of the New Sacred Agreement?

As you can see (and as Paul pointed out several times in his writings), the Old Law just showed men what sin was, and it condemned them to death whenever they in their imperfection violated it. And though the Old Sacred Agreement promised better things, these were never realized, because nobody (except Jesus) could live up to the Law's requirements.

Also note that, as was true of the Old Sacred Agreement, the New Sacred Agreement wasn't just a promise like the one God gave to Noah. Rather, it was a two-sided arrangement; for God indicated that He would require something from those who wished to participate in it. However, exactly what the requirements would be weren't specified at the time when this Sacred Agreement was first mentioned in Isaiah and Jeremiah. All we were told is that these laws or requirements would thereafter be written in our hearts.

So, what kind of a law could be written in hearts? Consider Jesus' reply, when he was asked which commandment of the Law was the greatest (as found at Matthew 22:36-40): 'You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart, life, and mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. The second, like it, is: You must love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments are the basis of the whole Law and the Prophets.'

Then notice that on the night before his death, Jesus said this to his followers (at recorded at John 13:34, 35): 'Therefore, now I'm giving you a new commandment… to love each other! Yes, love each other just as I've loved you. For this is how they will know that you are my disciples: By the love that you have for each other.'

Also, Paul later said (as recorded at Romans 13:10), 'Love is the Law's fulfillment.'

The Law of Love

Notice that at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul gave a comprehensive description of what this Law of love involves. He wrote: 'Love is kind and patient. Love isn't envious, it doesn't brag, it isn't conceited, it doesn't scheme, it doesn't just watch out for itself, it doesn't stir things up, it doesn't hold grudges, it doesn't rejoice over unrighteous things. Rather, it rejoices over things that are true. It covers everything, believes everything, hopes everything, and endures everything. Love never fails.'

So the new Law that God was to write in the hearts of those who are under the New Sacred Agreement, is that of love… for each other and for God. And if we are really obeying this Law (it doesn't come automatically), it will govern us better than any written code of laws. And if we will actually work at and practice love, we will prove ourselves to be Jesus' true disciples and under God's New Sacred Agreement.

Notice that Paul linked love with several other positive qualities, such as kindness, patience, forgiveness, belief, hope, and endurance. However, three of these qualities especially stand out in his conclusion at 1 Corinthians 13:13, 'So, we now have these three things: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.'

Therefore, while this new law involves other internal things, such as faith and hope (which must also be written in our hearts), the greatest portion of it is still love. For love encompasses all of these other requirements and it serves as an identifying mark, which can make us stand out as true worshipers of God.

Yet, while many Christians claim to have it, this isn't always very observable.

The Deeds of True Christian Love

We would be hard-pressed to find any Christian who would admit that he or she doesn't already have this special type of love that marks them as true followers of Jesus and as being under the New Sacred Agreement. Nevertheless, we challenge all to tell us how their love is any different from that of others who may not be Christians. For although all claim that they have love, the world is still filled with hatred, violence, and war, much of which is being perpetrated by these same ones who claim that they have the love of which Jesus and Paul spoke. So something is clearly missing, since casual observers would be hesitant to say that they can see any outstanding love among members of Christian religions!

And although it is true that Christians are no longer bound by any oppressive set of rules, this doesn't mean that we are free to do whatever we wish. For notice that when the Apostles and elders in the Jerusalem congregation were faced with the question of circumcision, they stated that there were still certain 'necessary things' which all Christians had to observe, namely: they had to 'stay away from things that are sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things that are strangled, and from sexual immorality' (Acts 15:29).

Paul also wrote of many other bad things that men do… things that a Christian conscience would forbid. And he said that people who do such things 'won't inherit God's Kingdom.' You can find them listed at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.

The Agreement for Life in Heaven

However (as we pointed out earlier), the New Sacred Agreement never promised a resurrection or heavenly life, for no scripture speaks of such a hope being offered in either the New or Old Sacred Agreements. And if such a thing were truly part of these sacred contracts, it surely had to be included somewhere. So we must conclude that just as the promise of the First Sacred Agreement with IsraEl was that they would become an earthly nation of kings and priests, the same thing is implied in the Second, because no such changes are mentioned by IsaiAh JeremiAh.

But notice that after Jesus offered the sacred bread and wine to his Apostles as symbols of his flesh and blood to inaugurate the New Sacred Agreement, he then made a promise to his faithful friends there that seems to have offered them the hope of life in heaven. This promise was only given to that select few, and he didn't say that it was an addendum to the New Sacred Agreement (which required something of all the parties involved). It was just a promise that he gave to those whom he said, 'stuck with me during my trials.' In fact, Matthew's account indicates that Jesus actually spoke of this agreement to his Apostles on another (earlier) occasion (see Matthew 19:28).

What he promised to his eleven faithful Apostles on the eve of his death (and perhaps on another occasion) was 'a Kingdom,' or an appointment to be kings. We read of this at Luke 22:28-30, where Jesus said, 'Now, because you're the ones who have stuck with me during my trials, I'm giving this appointment to you as my Father has given the appointment to me, for a Kingdom: In my Kingdom, you'll eat and drink at my table, and you'll sit on thrones, from which you'll judge the twelve tribes of IsraEl.'

What Will They Do There?

Notice that this promise that Jesus gave to his Apostles is the only one that seems to have promised life in heaven. Notice how the words, 'you'll eat and drink at my table and you'll sit on thrones,' seem to imply being in heaven with Jesus; for if you look at the methods of the rulership of ancient Hebrew Kings such as David and Solomon, you'll see that those who were invited to sit at the king's table were his closest friends and advisors, who were also his primary governors. Thus when Jesus told his Apostles that they would eat and drink at his (the king's) table, it appears as though he was saying that they would be where he was, in heaven, and that they would also be kings or rulers.

In addition, when Jesus promised his eleven faithful Apostles that they would 'sit on thrones and judge the twelve tribes of IsraEl,' he was saying that they were to judge those who comprise the rest of the arrangement for serving God… those who also claim to be under the New Sacred Agreement, but who may not have been offered life in heaven. For more information about what judging the twelve tribes of IsraEl means, see the linked document, 'Jerusalem and the IsraEl of God.'

But wasn't Jesus saying that the 'kings' would all be taken to heaven? Not necessarily!

Notice that in the 'type' (the Sacred Agreement with fleshly IsraEl) there were two priesthoods. There were those of the family lines of Aaron and Moses who could serve at the Altar and enter the Holy Place (picturing heaven), which was separate from those of the rest of the priestly tribe of Levi, whose primary job was that of living among, teaching, and judging IsraEl. So, could this have pictured the coming of two priestly groups (heavenly and earthly)? (For further discussion, see subheading 'Priests that May Have Been Types of Heavenly Life, the linked document, 'God's Promise of an Inheritance').

The Sacred Agreement of Salt

Notice that God had made a special Agreement with Aaron and Moses, and their sons. It was that they would not receive an inheritance of land in IsraEl, since He was to be their inheritance (see Numbers 18:20). So, rather than working fields or herding cattle, they were to handle the most sacred priestly duties within the Tent or Temple. And as their income, they were to receive all their provisions from among the holy sacrifices that the IsraElites were to bring to God (see Numbers 18:7-10). And this agreement was termed The Sacred Agreement of Salt (see Numbers 18:19).

Why was it called The Sacred Agreement of Salt? Because salt was to be offered with each sacrifice (see Leviticus 2:13). And the salt that they offered appears to have symbolized their special position of holiness before Him, which they were to maintain throughout the rest of their lives.

It is interesting that some manuscripts of the Bible book of Mark, where Jesus was discussing the need for his disciples to have salt within them, adds the words (found here in bold type at Mark 9:49 and 50: 'You will all be salted with fire, as a sacrifice is [offered with] salt. And though salt is good; if it loses its salty flavor, how can it be used for seasoning? So, have salt in yourselves and stay at peace with each other.'

Therefore, from what Jesus was saying to them about retaining their salt; he seems to make the point that having 'salt' has to do with maintaining integrity.

Two Covenants?

It became obvious to us when translating, that the New Sacred Agreement and Jesus' promise of a Kingdom are two different things. And although most Bibles speak of 'Covenants' being made between Jesus and his Apostles at Luke 22:20 and Luke 22:29, notice that there are two different Greek words that they translated as covenant. For example; the Greek word used at Luke 22:20 is diatheke, which suggests a will that is left by a person who is about to die… a disposition of property or a last will and testament. This was the two-way Sacred Agreement that Jesus inaugurated before he died.

Then notice (in verse 29) that the Greek word other Bibles also translate as covenant, is diatithemai, which means to make a promise. This was the personal promise that Jesus gave to his Apostles, which seems to have included the hope of ruling as kings with him in the heavens. However, if the New Sacred Agreement had already offered them life in heaven, this promise would have been totally unnecessary!

Why All Christians Should Partake

Remember that the first Passover was part of the tenth plague on the land of Egypt, which provided salvation and a way out to God's people. So, all who wanted their firstborn to live – regardless of whether they were Egyptians, IsraElites, or others – needed to carry out the instructions that were given to Moses. And as the result, large numbers of Egyptians and other aliens did just that and left Egypt along with the IsraElites (see Exodus 12:38).

And thereafter, if we look at the instruction in the Mosaic Law on how the Passover was to be observed, we find that ALL were to partake of the Passover sacrifices, including the 'Anointed' Priests, the Levite Priests, the rest of the IsraElites, and the 'aliens' who lived among them (Exodus 12:19), for God didn't give different laws to each of these groups. Rather, he said that there would be 'just one Law,' and it would apply to both 'the native residents and the converts that come to live among' them (see Exodus 12:49).

Notice that participation in the first Passover was a requirement for everyone who wanted the lives of their firstborn to be spared. And by continuing to celebrate the Passover thereafter, all the people were expressing their desire to be a part of the Old Sacred Agreement that God made with His people. Likewise, we all express our desire to be a part of the New Sacred Agreement if we 'keep on doing this' (partaking of the bread and wine in memory of Jesus' death) until he returns (see Luke 22:17-20).

So since that time, all true Christians who wish to have their sins forgiven, to have a true relationship with God and Jesus, and to receive the 'life' that God promised, must be baptized and agree to cultivate the New Sacred Agreement's law of love in their hearts, by partaking of the emblematic flesh and blood (bread and wine). They are also agreeing to leave behind the Old Law and the Old Sacred Agreement; for if they choose to hang on to it and its Laws, this would be indicating that they have not accepted the New Sacred Agreement and its superior law of love.

Recognize that anytime we find ourselves quoting the Old Law (including its 'Ten Commandments') to make a point that something is right or wrong, we are demonstrating our belief that the Old Sacred Agreement and its Old Law are still superior to the new law of love and the New Sacred Agreement. For if a rule isn't covered by love or by something that was said by Jesus or his Apostles, it probably has no place in the life of a Christian.

Those Who Decline

But, what of those who decline the offer to be a part of this New Sacred Agreement and refuse to partake of the emblematic wine and unleavened bread? While refusing to do so because of a religious misunderstanding doesn't preclude the hope of a resurrection (the Bible says that even 'the unrighteous' receive that), they are really saying that they don't want God's Laws written in their hearts; they don't want to be His people; and they don't want their mistakes and sins to be forgiven.

Who Are Party to the New Sacred Agreement?

If we go back to the Sacred Agreement that was given through Moses, we find that the entire nation of IsraEl had to agree to fulfill their part of the bargain. So, when do those who are offered the opportunity to be a part of the New Sacred Agreement signify that they accept it today? Unfortunately, this isn't spelled out in the Bible. It could happen when they are baptized… which is possibly when their names are written in 'the Scroll of Life.' However, until we each partake of the symbolic blood and flesh of Jesus, we haven't really agreed to be party to the New Sacred Agreement. So it appears as though becoming party to the New Sacred Agreement requires us to be baptized and to partake of the emblems, and these two acts seem to be interconnected. Notice how Paul pointed this out at Romans 6:3-5: 'Are you ignorant of the fact that all who were baptized into the Anointed Jesus were also baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried with him by our baptism into the death, so that just as the Anointed One was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father, we should be walking in a new way of life. And if we've been buried with him into the same type of death; then [like him], we will also be resurrected.'

But does this Agreement include everyone who is baptized, regardless of which 'Christian' religion they were baptized into? Perhaps, for Jesus indicated that all who are baptized and who partake of the emblems of the New Sacred Agreement become IsraEl. And these appear to be 'the twelve tribes if IsraEl' whom he said his chosen Holy Ones will judge (at Luke 22:30), because many will fail! As Paul wrote at 2 Timothy 3:1-4: 'The last days will bring fierce times. People will love themselves and money. They will be braggers, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to their parents, unthankful, and disloyal. They won't love their families or be willing to agree on anything. They will be slanderers who don't have any self-control. They will be wild and won't love anything that is good. They will be betrayers who are headstrong and proud. They will prefer pleasures more than they care about God. They will have some form of religion, but they won't follow it.'

Notice that Paul doesn't seem to indicate that he was speaking of these conditions happening among the world in general in the Last Days, for people of the world have always acted like that. Rather, Paul was saying that many who are baptized and partake of the emblems (thus claiming to be under the New Sacred Agreement) will in fact prove unfaithful and will be judged as such. Then Jesus will say to them, 'I never knew you! Get away from me you lawbreakers' (Matthew 7:23)!

The Life-Giving DNA

Perhaps the meaning of these things can best be explained by pointing out what is obvious… we all share the DNA of Adam, which because of its imperfection, can only result in death. What is needed to continue living is the perfect DNA of the one who gave his life in our behalf, the greater Adam, Jesus the Anointed. And the only way we can receive it is by partaking of his flesh and his blood… which doesn't necessarily qualify us for heaven, because flesh and blood are earthly things.

Yet, notice how Jesus pointed out the vital need for all Christians to partake of the sacred bread and wine (his body and blood) at John 6:53-56. He said there: 'I tell you the truth; if you don't eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you won't have life in yourselves. For those who chew on my flesh and drink my blood will have age-long life, and then I will resurrect them on the Last Day, because my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly drink. Those who chew on my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them.'

As you can see; in order to 'have life in [ourselves],' to receive 'age-long life,' and to be resurrected 'on the Last Day,' we must all partake of the sacred emblems… so this is a life-and-death matter.

Remembering the Death of Jesus

Who Should Not Partake of the Emblems

Again, going back to the original Passover; God directed that 'No stranger may eat (the Passover bread),' and 'aliens and people you hire can't eat it' until they are circumcised. 'Then they will be treated as residents in the land' (Exodus 12:43-49).

Although fleshly circumcision is no longer a requirement for servants of God, Paul indicated that there are still standards, which Christians who desire to partake of the bread and wine of the Lord's Evening Meal must meet. Notice his words at 1 Corinthians 11:27-29: 'Whoever eats the loaf and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be held responsible to the Lord's body and blood. So, each man should prove what he is first, then he can eat from the loaf and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink, eat and drink judgment upon themselves if they don't judge [the worthiness of] their bodies.'

Paul then continued with the instructions, telling us that each person should 'judge himself' and allow himself to be 'disciplined by the Lord, so we aren't condemned along with the world.' Therefore, a little self-examination is in order before partaking of the emblems, to make sure that the way we are living our lives makes us worthy of accepting the body and blood of Jesus into ourselves. For simply partaking of the emblems of the New Sacred Agreement doesn't really mean 'life,' unless it is accompanied by righteous actions… specifically, that we are truly demonstrating the law of love to be written in our hearts!

Also, Paul indicated that there are requirements for our literal bodies. For if we should partake just to satisfy our hunger or while we are intoxicated, this shows a lack of respect for the arrangement (1 Corinthians 11:21, 22). And as he said; those who do this are 'eating and drinking judgment on themselves,' since their actions are really displaying a lack of respect for God, Jesus, and the privilege of being part of the New Sacred Agreement. In other words: This is a serious occasion and a time for introspection.

How Should the 'Lord's Supper' Be Observed?

The scriptures give us very little direction when it comes to how the Lord's Supper or Evening Meal should be observed, and historical records are likewise inconclusive, so we warn against establishing dogmatic guidelines. Nevertheless, some things can be established about the gatherings of early Christian congregations and the way the Bible tells us that they observed this 'Supper.'

The original Passover was celebrated as a full meal; and after Jesus' death, members of Christian congregations apparently met regularly for loving fellowship meals that were known as 'agape' or 'love feasts' (Jude 12), during which (according to 1 Corinthians 11:20, 21) they usually ate the 'Lord's Supper.' But since Paul condemned some of the things they were doing, many have concluded that a regular meal has no place in the observance. Rather, they believe (as Paul said), that Christians should 'eat at home' before meeting with the congregation.

However, based on Paul's words, the argument could also be made that the problem Paul was speaking of was actually the manner in which they ate together. Notice what he specifically condemned. He said, 'So, who knows who's still hungry and who has already had too much to drink? Don't you have houses where you can eat and drink? Or do you condemn the congregation of God and shame those who are poor?'

Then notice his concluding words on the matter at 1 Corinthians 11:33, 34: 'So, my brothers; When you come together to eat, wait for each other. And if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so you don't meet for judgment.'

Since congregational meals and Love Feasts appear to have continued as a practice long after this counsel was given (see Jude 12 And 2 Peter 2:13), it doesn't seem as though Paul was condemning the inclusion of meals as a part of their meetings, but he was addressing specific problems when it came to remembering the sacredness of the 'Lord's Supper.'

From what Paul said, it looks like the problem was that some were bringing food, not for the congregation to share, but for themselves only. They were also overindulging in wine, so that when the time for the observance of the 'Lord's Supper' arrived, they were stuffed and sleepy from overeating and drinking, while the poor ones were likely eating the bread and wine greedily out of hunger. And if so, no wonder Paul gave them this strong council!

Then, what can we conclude is the proper way to observe the 'Lord's Supper?' Since Paul told the Corinthians to 'wait for each other,' it is clear that we should celebrate the occasion (if possible) with a whole group of fellow Christians. We must also be sober, and we should partake of the emblems not out of hunger, but with deep appreciation for the New Sacred Agreement and the sacrifice provided by our God and His son Jesus.

When Should the 'Lord's Supper' be Observed?

We don't actually know when or how often the early Christians observed the 'Lord's Supper,' other than that it likely took place during their 'love feasts.' So, some have concluded from this that it was held regularly on several occasions during the year, which may be true. In fact, notice what Paul wrote was happening in early Christian congregations, at 1 Corinthians 11:20: 'Now, when you meet together in one place, isn't it to eat the Lord's Supper?'

So the conclusion might be reached that every gathering of Christians included a meal and eating the sacred emblems of the Lord's Supper.

However, notice that this sacred meal was inaugurated on the Day of Preparation during the week-long Jewish feast of Passover. This is significant, because that festival represents the saving of IsraEl's firstborn, and the lamb (as well as the yeast-free bread and the wine) pictured Jesus' flesh and blood. So, the Passover pictured Jesus' sacrifice and his inauguration of the New Sacred Agreement. For that reason, it appears as though the most important time to celebrate this sacred meal is on the Day of Preparation for the Passover, which starts after sundown (when the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan begins), as it would be calculated in the skies over JeruSalem (Nisan starts on the new moon closest to the Spring Equinox, and the 14th day is the time of the full moon).

Was it Wine or Grape Juice?

We realize that to many, the thought of Jesus drinking and offering an alcoholic beverage to others there in a Christian gathering is unthinkable. So among some religions, only unfermented grape juice is used in their services. For as they point out; the words for wine and grape juice are the same in the Bible. Therefore, they say that Jesus and his Apostles didn't really drink alcoholic wine. Yet, consider the fact that Passover comes in March/April, and grapes don't ripen until mid summer. Therefore, it would have been difficult (and expensive) to maintain grape juice throughout the year without it turning into wine or vinegar.

Also consider the fact that ancient wine presses could never be considered as sterile by modern standards, and that the grapes were squashed by foot. So, as with beer, some alcohol was needed to sterilize the drink.

On the other hand, there doesn't appear to be any problem with Christians using grape juice in religious services, as long as it is pasteurized, so that it contains no natural yeast; because, the amount of alcohol content doesn't seem to be the issue.

However, it is likely that Jesus drank alcoholic wine, since that is what the Jews have traditionally used in their Passover services, and there is no record in any of the four Gospel accounts of the Apostles purchasing special (unfermented) wine. Also, notice what type of wine Jesus was clearly speaking of at Luke 5:37-39:
'And they don't put new wine in old wineskins.
For the new wine will burst the old skins,
Breaking the skins and spilling the wine.
So, new wine is put in new wineskins.
And all who have tasted old wine,
Don't want the new, anyhow;
For they say, The old [wine] is better!'

Was it Matzos?

Jewish tradition has created many laws about how the Passover bread was to be prepared, requiring that it must be baked within just so many minutes of preparation (to keep yeast from settling on it and contaminating it), which has resulted in the common use of a prepared cracker-like bread called matzos. Yet, other religious groups have set their own laws for the bread, saying that matzos (because they aren't made with whole-grain wheat) shouldn't be used, and that each person, family, or group should prepare their own yeast-free flat bread. Which is true?

Well, notice what the account of the original Passover tells us (at Exodus 12:39): 'Then they baked the dough that they brought from Egypt into fermentation-free loaves (there was still no fermentation in the dough), because the Egyptians wouldn't allow them to stay, and they had [virtually] thrown them out, so they didn't have time to make provisions for their journey.'

As you can see, the first Passover bread didn't necessarily meet the modern, strict laws of Jewish tradition. It was simply a hastily-prepared bread. Yes, it was likely whole-grain, but would they have used filtered and bleached flour if it had been available? Probably.

Was the bread truly made out of wheat, as current Jewish tradition strictly dictates? Well, the Passover comes during the barley harvest, and the wheat harvest didn't come until Pentecost, some fifty days later. So the original Passover bread in Egypt could well have been made of or included barley flour, for the Bible doesn't specifically tell us what grain is to be used. And modern Jewish tradition (as in other matters) is a poor indicator of what must be done.

Notice, for example, these words in the book of John, where is speaks of Jesus feeding of the multitudes (John 6:4, 5,): 'It was close to the time of the Jewish Passover festival; so when Jesus looked up and noticed the huge crowd coming, he asked Philip, Where should we buy bread for everyone to eat?'

Then in verses eight and nine we read: 'And one of his disciples (Andrew the brother of Simon Peter) said to him: Here's a little boy who has five loaves of barley bread and two small fish.'

So yes; barley bread was commonly eaten during that time of year. In fact, it could be argued that the barley thath was sacrificed during Passover represented Jesus' body, and the wheat that was sacrificed on Pentecost represented the lives of his faithful followers. However, the Bible simply makes no such distinction.

But if a person wishes to get technical and make up some rule about the process, note that God's Law on the matter said (at Exodus 12:19): 'Fermentation must not be found in your homes during those seven days, and whoever eats anything with fermentation [in it] will have his life cut off from the gathering of IsraEl. This applies to the native residents of the land, as well as to those who are just staying there.'

So, must all yeast (and yeast products) then be removed from the home where the bread is prepared? Possibly. But if we go back and start strictly following Pharisee-inspired Jewish traditions or the dictates of modern religious Pharisees, aren't we forsaking the New Sacred Agreement? For the Bible tells us that Christians are now under a New Law, which doesn't require the following of Old Law rituals. And the point of eating yeast-free bread and drinking yeast-free wine is not about bread or wine, it's a symbol of something that was free from contamination. So whether the bread is hard and crunchy like a cracker, or softer and more chewy; or whether it is made of barley, whole-wheat, or bleached flour; the point is that it should just be reasonably fermentation free.

The Importance of a Proper Understanding

On the other hand, some say that partaking or not partaking of the sacred emblems, as we've discussed above, really isn't that important a matter, because God will make a way for those who don't understand. But let's be reminded of a Bible story about two men, one of whom saw the significance of a sacred agreement with God, and the other who didn't… one was a spiritual man, and the other wasn't. These men were the brothers, Jacob and Esau.

Now, we likely all remember how Esau sold his birthright as firstborn to his brother Jacob for a meal of stew; but have you thought about what Jacob had actually purchased? The right of firstborn meant that he was to receive twice as much of the inheritance of his father's belongings. Yet Jacob willingly left all that inheritance behind to his elder brother when he fled the land; for the important (sacred) thing to him was his father's blessing and the promises of the Sacred Agreements that were made with his father IsaAc and his grandfather AbraHam. He saw the spiritual, while his brother only saw the carnal, so he was the one who became IsraEl.

Therefore, whose path do those who don't see the importance of properly observing God's New Sacred Agreement following, that of Esau or Jacob?

Realize that all the sacred agreements discussed above were life-or-death matters (especially for IsraEl), and although they didn't live to see the benefits, these promises of God meant everything to those through whom these agreements were to be fulfilled.

So, should any religious group tell their members that they are no part of the New Sacred Agreement, when all Christians should be; that they should not partake of the sacred emblems, when all Christians should do so; and that their resurrection will not be one of life, but as part of 'the rest of the dead' of unrighteous mankind; these millions could be literally being robbed of their hope of:
* God's Law being written in their hearts
* Having a personal knowledge of God
* Having their sins forgiven.

Therefore, this should be a most serious matter to all spiritual people!

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