Each culture has defining features that are unique to it. It is made up of specific components like land defined by borders, a language, with leaders and a legal system to implement the laws that are specific to it. They generally have memorial celebrations to pass on to subsequent generations the things that make them unique. They define, renew and insure their identity. Change these and that people will cease to exist.
An important feature of many nations is a foundational document called a constitution. Constitution is a big word for ingredients. It defines what the citezines are made up of. These people are called constituents.They contain the ingredients in themselves as defined by their constitution that make them unique. Take away these ingredients and you change the people. You have a new constituency and a different people. People who are made up of different laws and values.
This is what Christ did. He came preaching “The Kingdom of God is at hand” something everyone was looking for. He was the revolutionary creating a new constituency of a new constitution called The New Covenant. The book of Hebrews says “this was first spoken by the Lord and confirmed by those who heard it.” He spoke first something different from the old covenant a new message to a new people. Such are we who are this new constituency being ingredients of The New Covenant founded on better promises than the old covenant. (Hebrews 8.6)
And the proof that it is something new and distinguishable different? Christ said “All the law and the prophets were till John. Now the Kingdom is preached and all are entering”. With these words He drew the proverbial line in the sand between His Heavenly Kingdom and the kingdom of Israel of Jerusalem on earth. He was the demarcation line between the old Jewish kingdom and the new Covenant Kingdom of God in Christ that “cometh not with observation”. (Luke 17.22)
This is the “new wine in new wine skins” different from the old wine of the old covenant and it’s kingdom. Just as you do not put old wine in new skins lest it spoil, and you don’t put new wine in old skins lest they burst. So too you cannot mix thr old and new covenants.
The phrase “The Kingdom of God is at hand” started then and was never retracted. A covenant is not in force till the death of the testator”. He came with irreversible results. Christ went to the cross for this cause, not to go again. With His death the heirs receive their inheritance and need not wait for another act to do so.
The New Covenant is now emphatically in force. Christ took away the old covenant. Fulfilling it for the New. (Hebrews 10.9). The old reached its culmination to bring us to the New. Christ is the sole mediator for this New creation and needs no help from the prophets of the old whom He replaced. All the prophets were till Christ.
Peter said “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, To them it was revealed that, not to themselves (they didn’t get it) but to us[b] they were ministering the things”. Here distinguishing the two covenants speaking of something that was coming that the old didn’t have. And Christ came for the expiration of their words. They speak of nothing past Christ’s coming in the flesh.
“All (of the old) law and the prophets were till John”? Christ introduces a new constitution for a new constituency of those born with ingredients of the Word and of the Spirit. Written on the heart and not stones like the 10 commandments. “He came to His own and His own did not accept Him, but to as many as receive Him, to them He gave power to become His Children, even to those who believe in His name. And also “of those born among women there is none greater than John the baptist. But he who is least in the New Covenant Kingdom is greater than he.” Who? John the Baptist or any other prophet for John was the greatest of them. We are greater than them because we stand upon their works. Which is why they are described as being the foundation of the New Covenant Kingdom. Having been laid upon the apostles and the prophets with Christ our cornerstone and us as living stones, and not earthly composition.
So “The New Covenant” people, are different from the old. A new people with a new make up, distinguishably different from the old. The old was written on tablets of stone and the New on tablets of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3.3)
We are not of the circumcision of the flesh but the heart. The differences have no parallels. That old culture depicts the New only with contrasts. The law of sin and death, in contrast with in contrast with “The Spirit of life that is in Christ”. The operative here is “in Christ” not in Jerusalem. This is “rightly dividing the word of truth”. And “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Christ”.
If there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. The culture of the law only mirrors the truth in contrasts. And opposites. “The law having shadows of these things but not the essence” (Hebrews 10.1)
Scripture says that Christ is the new mediator of a new covenant founded on better promises” than the old. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8.13). And they did in 70 A.D. by Titus and His armies.
The old is made up of artifacts of a bygone age founded on temporary fixes and band-aids designed to “make sin exceedingly sinful”. To make us good and dead till Christ.
At the proclamation that “The Kingdom of God is at hand” the deterioration of the old commenced. And if the changes to the Jerusalem of old were to be minor, He would have just had painted the buildings and maybe replaced the roof, but because the changes were so drastic and diametrically opposite, everything had to be redone. “Till not one stone shall be left upon another” was Jerusalem’s demise (Mt 24.1). When Christ was on the cross, the physical temple was cracked from the top to the bottom so that the earth quaked and the bedrock shifted. (Mt 27.52) Yes clear through the foundation into the earth, showing it unsafe for use of any sort. Left condemned only for demolition, not because it was wore out, but because it didn’t work. That is why scripture says “old things have passed away, all things have become new in Christ.” It’s a done deal. The old way need not be reimplement because it was useless.
The expiration of that kingdom was so completely fulfilled, satisfied, expired and put out of business so much so in fact that all debts were paid and the books were balanced and closed. And because that kingdom and all the Jews so emphatically rejected the New King of a New Kingdom, the New Law and the New Law giver and the New Mediator of The New Covenant, but of them? “there were none righteous, no not one”. So on them was laid all the guilt for all the wrong doing, murders and deaths of all the prophets from Able till Zechariah and Christ. Why? Because there was not one prophet they listened to. Even as the people said “He is not my king, crucify Him”. And so they did. And so for this they were judged, condemned and annihilated. Just like the parable of the vineyard where the master sent his servants in last he sent his son. The stewardship was taken from them, and given to another. In this way the Jews rejected the chief cornerstone. They were not recipients of the gift of God but His wrath. The books were settled, the wages were paid. God owes the Jews nothing He hasn’t already given to them. God was patient that none would perish but there was none righteous, no not one”. The Jews and Jerusalem are no more. They are fulfilled. Meaning, expired, shelved and put away saying. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; Meaning condemned, kaput, closed for business, out of commission. Like the cursed fig tree Christ said “let no more fruit grow on you forever”. Showing His intent for that culture. It is eternally fulfilled. Can you receive that? Then you might be able to see the kingdom of God at hand.
The buildings and the streets of that culture were so turned over and so unrecognizable that there were no distinguishing features left but rubble. The people were ravaged, killed and trapped in that city because they rejected The King of kings and Lord of lords. Josephus and other historians from that era speak of the hellish horror they experienced while they ate each others flesh and gnashed their teeth in pain, while Jerusalem was surrounded by armies and cut off from provisions. They knew not their time of visitation. “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, do not go back in your house to retrieve a coat”. The Jews are gone. That kingdom was demolished. It was condemned, put out of business and replaced with the New Covenant Kingdom And The Kingdom of God is at hand.
You see the law was added only till faith comes and in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son born of a women to redeem those from the law. There is therefore no need for that law and the culture associated with it. It served its purpose of “making sin exceedingly sinful”. To go back to that is like jumping back into the pan on the fire, for they will reap the same reward of rejecting the Savior. As Paul said “if I rebuild that which was destroyed I make myself a transgresser”. To be found an enemy of Christ by rejecting His work of expiring that culture.
Many today do just that. They look to another coming Jesus and another fulfillment of a Jerusalem and view scripture the same way as the Jews of old were condemned for. This is why scripture calls Jerusalem on earth “the spiritual city called Sodom, where our Lord was slain”.
But “we have come to know and believe that Christ came to expire and replace the Old Covenant with the New covenant and New Kingdom of God in Christ. We the elect have received it. The Kingdom is preached and many press in. The rest were hardened (Romans 11.7). They like the old wine skins. But the Lord does not put new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” The Old verse the New. You choose.
We then are the constituents of His sayings. Even as Christ said at the sermon on the mount “you have heard it written of old. But I say into to you… something new” We adopt His sayings and live by the spirit of that letter. “We are begotten by the Word of truth to be a kind of firstfruit of His creation” having inside us His ingredients , being a new creation from a new constitution with new laws, principles and practices
The Kingdom of God is At Hand, within reach, grasspable, operational and active today. Even Now.