It is sometimes said that now everything has changed: “covenant” virtually disappears. It is rarely mentioned again outside of the letter to the Hebrews. But this is to miss the point. For when Jesus speaks about the “new covenant in my blood,” He means that He Himself is the covenant. The Lord had already hinted at this: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights. … I will give you as a covenant for the people” (Isa. 42:1, 6–7). The final “new covenant” is no longer a promise waiting to be fulfilled but a person who embodies its fulfillment. God’s covenant word is now the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
Thus, from Adam through Noah, from Abraham through Moses, and from David to Christ, God’s people have been defined, united, and shaped through an ever-renewed and developed covenant bond. This is why the fathers of the church spoke about ecclesia ab Adam (the church from Adam) or ecclesia ab Abel (the church from Abel)—one people, in different epochs, living at different covenant stages of the unveiling of God’s promise, and, from the fall of Adam and Eve, always sinners who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8), always justified by faith alone, not by works, always trusting the promise of God, always conscious that they were one family.
Moses and Paul (and therefore we) belong to one family. “To them” (the old covenant people), Paul says, “belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4). The same is true for Paul (and for us) in the new covenant—only more so: we are the sons of God by adoption (8:14–17); we are being changed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18); by the Spirit the commandments of the law are fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:3–4); we are the true circumcision who worship in the Spirit (Phil. 3:3); and we trust in the One in whom all the promises of God have found their “yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). We live in different epochs, but we are one people, one family.
This unity is expressed very clearly in Hebrews’ description of Moses, who “By faith … refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God. … He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the riches of Egypt” (Heb. 11:25–26). Throughout the covenant ages, there is one faith, one Christ, one people.
Hebrews 3:1–6 puts it this way: in both the old and the new covenant epochs, believers have belonged to the same household and the same family. They have occupied the same house, even though changes have taken place. And now Moses the servant has given way to Jesus the Son. Restrictions have been lifted (we are no longer heirs who are underage). Now, believers live in the fullness of grace and truth and cry, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:1–7). But the ancestral home remains one and the same.