While the Old Testament covenants were provisionally ratified with the blood of animals, no divine covenant in Scripture could be officially ratified, made irrevocably binding and effective, “until the death of Christ” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 370). This means that no one should have been officially “forgiven” until Christ died “to bear the sins of many” and to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” at which time the saved believer could then “receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15, 26–28, NKJV).
But, wait. God told Old Testament believers that He had already forgiven their sins (past tense) (Ps. 32:2–5; 103:12; Isa. 38:17). Furthermore, Enoch and Elijah were not only forgiven but also translated to heaven without seeing death, and Moses was raised from the dead and taken to heaven (Jude 9; Matt. 17:1–4), and they all lived under the old (Sinai) covenant! How could that be if their sins could not be officially forgiven until the death of Jesus?
This conundrum opens a window into a breathtaking view of Jesus. Get this picture: Jesus just couldn’t wait until the covenant was officially ratified to grant His covenant blessings and promises! He was like a child who couldn’t wait to open his presents.
Jesus’ sacrificial death didn’t initiate the covenant of grace; it revealed it at its apex. The everlasting covenant is—“God’s eternal pledge to save humanity at any and all cost to Himself” (Ty Gibson, The Sonship of Christ: Exploring the Covenant Identity of God and Man [Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2018], 177). It existed “before the creation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18–20, NIV; Rev. 13:8), and even “before time began” (2 Tim. 1:8, NKJV), whatever that means! For that long, the Trinity lived with the specter of what would happen at the cross but kept it to themselves as “hidden wisdom . . . a mystery” (1 Cor. 2:7) until the fullness of time had come. When “the blood of His cross” finally played out in real time before the onlooking universe, it has the effect of reconciling to God not only “things on earth,” including “enemies” and “alienated” things, but also unfallen and un-estranged “things in heaven” as well (Col. 1:20); no one knows fully what that means, but whatever it is, it’s huge. And Jesus didn’t want to wait until His sacrifice sealed the deal, so to speak; He wanted to get its eternal benefits distributed immediately, instantaneously with sin’s occurrence, as fast and far as possible to those whose hearts would be drawn and won by it.
It is no wonder that the same promises, once we had seen them fulfilled in Him, the same law, once we had seen Him live by it as He had intended it to function in human life, the same gospel, once He ratified it by His “blood of the everlasting covenant,” would be called a “new covenant,” historically so, and made such by His living and dying on our behalf.
The same holds true in the life of the believer. At that point in time when Jesus enters, by invitation, into someone’s life at conversion, whether at a defining moment or over a period of time, life itself becomes new (2 Cor. 5:17). And it should be progressively true of even good people, obedient people, securely heaven-bound people, “new-covenant-experience” people. Through continuing times of prayer, meditation on God’s Word, diligence in service, and faithfulness through trials, Jesus progressively comes anew, making the believer’s testimony continually new. Jesus’ promises become ever more precious, the hope He offers ever more real, His grace and mercy ever more enthralling, and His covenant of love ever a greater treasure and ever new. “He who has the Son has life” and has it ever new (1 John 5:12, NKJV). “The LORD’s great love . . . [and] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22, 23, NIV).