Do you want to know Jehovah and be known by him? Do you want to have your sins forgiven and more, forgotten? Do you want to be one of God’s people?
I think for most of us the answer would be a resounding Yes!
Well, then, it follows that we all want to be in this new covenant. We want Jehovah to write his law in our heart. Unfortunately, we are taught that only a tiny minority, currently less than 0.02% of all Christians, are in this “new covenant”. What is our scriptural reason for teaching such a thing?
We believe that only 144,000 go to heaven. We believe this is a literal number. Since we also believe that only those who go to heaven are in the new covenant, we are forced to conclude that millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses today are not in a covenant relationship with God. Therefore, Jesus is not our mediator and we are not God’s sons. (w89 8/15 Questions from Readers)
Now the Bible doesn’t actually say any of this, but through a line of deductive reasoning, based on a number of assumptions, this is the point at which we have arrived. Alas, it forces us to some rather bizarre and contradictory conclusions. To give but one example, Galatians 3:26 says that “YOU are all, in fact, sons of God through YOUR faith in Christ Jesus.” There are almost eight million of us now who have faith in Christ Jesus, but we are being told that we are not sons of God, just good friends. (w12 7/15 p. 28, par 7)
Let us see ‘if these things are really so.’ (Acts 17:11)
Since Jesus referred to this covenant as ‘new’, there must have been a former covenant. In fact, the covenant that the New Covenant replaces was a contractual agreement which Jehovah made with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. Moses first gave them the terms. They listened and agreed to the terms. At that point they were in a contractual agreement with God Almighty. Their side of the agreement was to obey all of God’s commandments. God’s side was to bless them, make them into his special property, and to turn them into a holy nation and a “kingdom of priests”. This is known as the Law Covenant and it was sealed, not with signatures on a piece of paper, but with blood.
(Exodus 19:5, 6) . . .And now if YOU will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then YOU will certainly become my special property out of all [other] peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me. 6 And YOU yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’. . .
(Hebrews 9:19-21) . . .For when every commandment according to the Law had been spoken by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the young bulls and of the goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled the book itself and all the people, 20 saying: “This is the blood of the covenant that God has laid as a charge upon YOU.”
In making this covenant, Jehovah was keeping an even older covenant which he had made with Abraham.
(Genesis 12:1-3) 12 And Jehovah proceeded to say to A?bram: “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you; 2 and I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great; and prove yourself a blessing. 3 And I will bless those who bless you, and him that calls down evil upon you I shall curse, and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you.”
A great nation was to come from Abraham, but more, the nations of the world would be blessed by this nation.
Now the Israelites failed to keep their end of the agreement. So Jehovah wasn’t legally bound to them anymore, but he still had the covenant with Abraham to keep. So about the time of the Babylonian exile he inspired Jeremiah to write about a new covenant, one that would take effect when the old one ceased. The Israelites had already invalidated it by their disobedience, but Jehovah exercised his right to keep it in force for many centuries until the time of the Messiah. In fact, it stayed in force until 3 ½ years after the death of Christ. (Dan. 9:27)
Now the New Covenant was also sealed with blood, just as the former one was. (Luke 22:20) Under the New Covenant, membership was not restricted to the nation of natural Jews. Anyone from any nation could become a member. Membership was not a right of birth, but was voluntary, and depended on putting faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:26-29)
So having examined these scriptures, it is now clear that all natural Israelites from the time of Moses at Mt. Sinai down to the days of Christ were in a covenant relationship with God. Jehovah doesn’t make empty promises. Therefore, if they had remained faithful, he would have kept his word and made them into a kingdom of priests. The question is: Would every last one of them become a heavenly priest?
Let’s assume the number of 144,000 is literal. (Granted, we could be wrong about this, but play along because, literal or symbolic, it really doesn’t matter for purposes of this argument.) We should also assume that Jehovah purposed this whole arrangement way back in the garden of Eden when he gave the prophesy of the seed. This would have included determining the final number who would be needed to fill the office of heavenly kings and priests so as to achieve the healing and reconciliation of mankind.
If the number is literal, then only a subset of natural Israelites would have been appointed to heavenly places of oversight. Yet, it is clear that all the Israelites were in the old covenant. Likewise, if the number is not literal, there are two possibilities for who would become kings and priests: 1) It is an undeclared yet predetermined number that would have constituted a subset of all natural Jews, or 2) it is an indeterminate number comprising every faithful Jew who ever lived.
Let’s be clear. We are not here trying to determine how many Jews would have gone to heaven if they hadn’t broken the covenant, nor are we trying to determine how many Christians will go. What we are asking is how many Christians are in the new covenant? Given that in each of the three scenarios we’ve looked at, all natural Jews—all fleshly Israel—were in the former covenant, there is every reason to conclude that all members of spiritual Israel are in the New Covenant. (Gal. 6:16) Every member of the Christian congregation is in the New Covenant.
If the number of kings and priests is a literal 144,000, then Jehovah will select them out of the entire 2,000-year-old Christian congregation in the New Covenant, just as he would have done from the 1,600-year-old house of Israel under the Law Covenant. If the number is symbolic, but still represents an indeterminate—to us—number from within the new covenant, then this understanding still works. After all, is that not what Revelation 7:4 says? Are these not sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. Every tribe was present when Moses mediated the first covenant. If they had remained faithful then the (symbolic/literal) number of those sealed would have come out of those tribes. The Israel of God replaced the natural nation, but nothing else changed about this arrangement; only the source from which the kings and priests are extracted.
Now is there a scripture or series of scriptures that proves the opposite? Can we show from the Bible that the vast majority of Christians are not in a covenant relationship with Jehovah? Can we show that Jesus and Paul were only speaking about a tiny fraction of Christians being in the New Covenant when they spoke of the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words?
Failing some pretty sound reasoning to the contrary, we are forced to acknowledge that like the Israelites of old, all Christians are in a covenant relationship with Jehovah God. Now we can choose to be like the vast majority of ancient Israelites and fail to live up to our side of the covenant, and so, lose out on the promise; or, we can choose to obey God and live. Either way, we are in the New Covenant; we have Jesus as our mediator; and if we put faith in him, we are God’s children.