I think it is necessary to see how the Old covenant passed away. This is crucial to see how the scriptures unveil the provision of the New covenant, issue of wrath mentioned in the epistles and the seemingly mysterious book of Revelation.
In Matthew 5 Jesus gave a very important information with regard to the Old covenant that seemed to have confused many in our day.
17 Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.
The key point to note here is that the Old Covenant could not pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
The Old covenant did not pass away at the cross. It was declared null and void after the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
“For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator” (Hebrews 9:16)
Jesus said that the every part of the Old covenant would pass away when heaven and earth passes away. We have been taught for a long time that the heaven and earth here is the literal and physical one. What we were not taught is this is symbolic of the temple and the land.
In Isaiah 51:15-16 Jehovah, speaking to Israel, said he gave them the Mosaic Covenant,
But I am the LORD your God,
Who divided the sea whose waves roared—
The LORD of hosts is His name.
16 And I have put My words in your mouth;
I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
That I may plant the heavens,
Lay the foundations of the earth,
And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”
God said he gave Israel his law to establish “heaven and earth.” This cannot be the physical “heaven and earth;” that was in existence long before God gave the law to Israel. God was saying that he gave His law to Israel to establish their “world.”
The introduction of the new covenant was the end of the former. The old covenant became obsolete and it was no longer God’s way of dealing with man. But because the majority of the Jews did not recognize the ending, they continued performing the Old Covenant rituals in the temple for forty years. During this forty years, God tried Israel as He tried their forebears for forty years in the wilderness centuries before. He sent His ministers to preach the Gospel to them. Some heard but most did not believe. Before AD 70, the writer of Hebrews wrote this to the Jews:
Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts, as in the provocation, like as in the day of the trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me by proving me, and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was displeased with that generation, and said, ‘They always err in their heart, but they didn’t know my ways;’ as I swore in my wrath, ‘They will not enter into my rest.'”… To whom did he swear that they wouldn’t enter into his rest, but to those who were disobedient? We see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.
Hebrews 3:7-11, 18-19
Look at this message by Peter after they were flocked by the Jewish people and leaders for raising the lame at the temple gate.
All of the Old Covenant had not been fulfilled at the time of Peter’s speech in Acts 3 (Acts 3:21).
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk?
13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him.
14 But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you,
15 and killed the Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
16 And by faith in his name hath his name made this man strong, whom ye behold and know: yea, the faith which is through him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17 And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
18 But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;
20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus:
21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.
The Old Covenant could not pass until it was all fulfilled that would lead to the restoration of all things.
Paul said in Ephesians 1:
“9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
Peter also tells that them
22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you.
23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.
This is referring to Jesus who is greater than Moses. He would come to fulfill the law given to Moses and they were to turn to him for salvation.
The father also confirmed same when He said “This is my beloved son in Whom I am well pleased” and at the mount of transfiguration “This is my beloved son, here ye him”
This failure to hearken to him will result in the complete destruction of the people.
Eusebius one of the earliest church leaders, fourth century church historian, wrote of the passing of the Old Covenant Law and the full establishment of the New:
“Moses himself foresaw by the Holy Spirit that when the New covenant was revived by Christ and preached to all nations, his own legislation would become superfluous, he rightly confined its influence to one place, so that if they were ever deprived of it and shut out of that national freedom, it might not be possible for them to carry out the ordinances of his law in a foreign country, and of necessity they would have to receive the new covenant announced by Christ. Moses had foretold this very thing and in due course Christ sojourned in this life, and the teaching of the new covenant was borne to all nations, and at once the Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed it and the Temple there. At once the whole of the Mosaic law was abolished, with all that remained of the Old Covenant, and the curse passed over to those who became lawbreakers because they obeyed Moses’ law, when its time had gone by, and still clung ardently to it, for at that very moment, the perfect teaching of the new Law was introduced in its place.”
The writer of Hebrews wrote to the Jews that the Old Covenant had grown old and was near to vanishing away (Hebrews 8:13). The Apostles gave many warnings and pleadings God gave to Israel. Yet, except for relatively few people, Israel continued with the temple service acting out the patterns that had outlived their usefulness and been replaced by the reality. The church was almost back to the temple worship in the threat of persecutions. The end result: They died like their ancient fathers in the wilderness in unbelief.
In the wake of the fall of the temple and destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, the new covenant found it’s perfect establishment. It introduced a new age where the kingdom would rule and reign over time and in every nation.
The most important expectation we have in the new covenant age is that it is in this realm that The Father wants to show off His incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us. The wrath is behind us and there are no more curses to plague us.
As Paul said in Ephesians 2:7
“in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
We are in that age that they expected. Be glad and rejoice in Christ Jesus.