THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES
Updated: Jan 29, 2022
7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
We know that God established the Old Covenant with Moses. A covenant in this regard relates to a promise given by God which is established in blood with the term of obedience. However what was this promise? It was the promise given to Eve when God said her seed would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). It was the promise given to Abraham when the Lord said unto him, in thy seed will all nations be blessed (Gen 22:18). It was the sign given to Isaiah when he saw a virgin conceive (Isa 7:14).The promise was the righteous branch prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 23:5). It was the promise that which the law and the prophets foreknew. The promise was The Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The follow up question then is, what makes this covenant old? We generally speak to the fact that Christ came and established a better covenant with men which we refer to as the New Covenant; but how exactly does the New Covenant ends the Old? A better question would be, could God rightfully establish a New Covenant to replace the Old Covenant without satisfying all the terms established in it?
The answer is no. God always subjects Himself to His Word. In order to do away with the Old Covenant He had to see to it that all the law and declarations of the prophets were fulfilled. Also, it was the promise of the Spirit that established the Covenant in the first place therefore this promised would have had to be realized before a New Covenant could be formed.
In fact the death and resurrection was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, because He did not rise alone.
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
It appears that those who died believing the promise had rose from the dead, likened unto Jesus. The same spirit that quickened the body of Jesus Christ, quickened their bodies by Jesus Christ. They had put on the new man and walked the earth however not as they did before but in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:10
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Jesus had preeminence in all things. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus saying that no man had ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven and was in heaven. This therefore means that all who had died in faith, believing the promise set forth by God had not gone to heaven, but went to paradise (also refered to as Abraham’s bossom) and awaited the arrival of their Messiah. It was necessary for Christ to suffer for their sin and pay the price in hell, then after preach to those in prison by the Spirit that they might receive Him.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
They then rose from the dead, having put on the new man and walked the earth (in Jerusalem where they showed themselves plainly, even to their loved ones) in Christ. They then ascended as a great cloud of witnesses.
1 Corinthians 15:35
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
The scripture outlines in the 50th verse that flesh and blood does not inherit the Kingdom of God therefore what body did these patriarch’s ascend with? The scripture outlines the rapture as being caught up to meet Christ in the air. 1 Corinthians refers to the rapture as being changed corruptible must put on incorruptible (1 Cor 15:52-53).
Jesus had preeminence in all things, even the rapture. He ascended on high but he had some that followed him. Just as Jesus was raptured, so were the old patriarchs. The book of Revelation gives us a peak at this spiritual body that they attained and the saints of God shall attain.
6And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
The spiritual body that the old patriarchs received was likened unto that of an angel’s. It was a prophet of old who spoke with John, not an angel. This is the hope of our salvation. Christ in us the hope of glory.
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
The Old Testament has ended, because the promise was fulfilled. Old patriarchs have received Christ and have been glorified. Therefore it was just of God to do away with the old and establish the new. Now we await the glory of them that shall be glorified through faith.
Written on: November 2015