Question: Did God make a New Covenant with the Church and a second one with Israel (Part 2)
In Part 1, we noticed God makes one New Covenant solely with Israel. Now let us consider four spiritual blessings the Church receives and relate them to God’s future enactment of the New Covenant with Israel. First, every believer in Christ has been born from above, imparted with a new nature in Christ. Born spiritually dead at our physical birth, we have been regenerated (born again) and made spiritually alive in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:1). The Holy Spirit has imparted new life to us and this life of Christ remains in us forever (1 John 3:9). Second, paying in full the penalty for our sins, Christ has also redeemed the believer from the guilt and power of sin. God permanently forgives us, choosing to remember our sins no longer (Heb. 8:8-13; 10:15-18). Third, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer from the moment of their regeneration. Fourth, this indwelling is the guarantee that our body will be redeemed and glorified at the rapture.
God enacts the New Covenant with the believing remnant of Israel when they are physically saved by Christ’s coming to earth at the end of Daniel’s 70th week (tribulation period). At that time, God will forgive their national and personal sins, regenerating them, and permanently indwelling them by the Holy Spirit (Isa. 59:20-21; Jer. 31:34; Eze. 36:24-29; Zech. 12-14; Rom. 11:26-27). They will enter the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies as restored Israel. The Old Testament saints and the martyred tribulation believers will be resurrected and along with the Church reign with Christ for a thousand years (Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:4, 6).
It is also part of God’s eternal purposes for the Gentiles to share in the New Covenant blessings (Gen. 12:3; Isa. 11:10; 42:1, 6; 49:6). Which individuals and nations enter the kingdom will be determined by Christ at the sheep and goats’ judgment before the inauguration of Christ’s 1000-year reign (Matt. 25:31-46). Though Scripture is silent on this matter, it is likely that living Gentile believers (sheep) are regenerated since one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (Joel 2:28; John 3).1 However, both Jewish and Gentile unbelievers (goats) will not enter the kingdom and face eternal punishment. Many people will be born during the Millennial Kingdom, some being saved and regenerated but many will not, rebelling at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign (Rev. 20:7-9).
There are two categories of resurrection, one unto life and the other unto eternal judgment (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:4-6). The first resurrection to life is for believers. This includes the Church before Daniel’s 70th week and Old Testament saints and martyred tribulation believers at the close it. The resurrection to eternal judgment occurs soon after the close of the Millennial Kingdom. Unbelievers from every age will be resurrected to face their judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment and will be cast into the lake of fire, excluded from New Covenant blessings (Rev. 20:11-15).
Scripture does not teach resurrection for those who enter the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies as well as for their believing descendants. Since all inhabitants will be sinless in the eternal state, possibly only unbelievers die during the Millennial Kingdom and believers are glorified prior to the New Heaven and Earth. Another possibility is that their sinlessness is connected to the tree of life and river of life (Rev. 22:1-2, 14).
Endnotes: 1. The Lord gently chastised Nicodemus for not knowing the prophets’ teaching on this.