Q. There are many people in the world who claim to follow Jesus. Why is it, then, that they do not keep the new covenant Jesus established?
A. The purpose of Jesus’ coming to this earth is to give eternal life to human beings who are destined to die because of their sins. In order to lead us to salvation, Jesus established the new covenant on the day of the Passover and became a sin offering for us, shedding His blood on the cross. The new covenant has seven feasts in three times including the Passover, as well as the Sabbath.
Those who believe in Jesus and want to be saved must know the new covenant and keep it. Today, however, there are only a few who keep the new covenant. It is because the truth of the new covenant Jesus had established began to be changed after the apostolic age and completely disappeared.
The prophecy about the new covenant to be disappeared
There are many prophecies in the Bible which show that the new covenant will be destroyed, and that lawlessness will prevail in the church. One of the prophecies is the parable of the weeds told by Jesus.
Mt 13:24–30 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “
Mt 13:40–42 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age . . . they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace . . .”
Weeds have a strong life force; if we just let them grow with the wheat, the whole field will be full of weeds. So, the weeds, sown after Jesus left this world, grew quickly with their strong life force, and became widespread throughout the field. In other words, the world became full of lawlessness.
This was a result of the church’s being ruled by the opposer of God, according to the prophecy of Daniel.
Da 7:25 “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times [feasts] and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.”
Da 7:25, TEV “He will speak against the Supreme God and oppress God’s people. He will try to change their religious laws and festivals, and God’s people will be under his power for three and a half years.”
The book of Revelation has the same prophecy.
Rev 13:5–7 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
It is prophesied that the beast will conquer the saints. This means that he will take the truth of life away from them.
Concerning the appearance of the man of lawlessness who would destroy the truth of life, the Apostle Paul also prophesied as follows:
2 Th 2:3–7 . . . for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God . . . For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
Ac 20:29–30 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
According to these prophecies of the Bible, all the truth of the new covenant disappeared as lawlessness appeared after the apostolic age.
Church history made according to the prophecies of the Bible
Through church history, let us briefly examine how the truth of the new covenant disappeared according to the prophecies of the Bible.
1) Apostolic Age
The Bible prophesied that God would bestow the blessings of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Zion, the city of God’s appointed fasts. According to this prophecy, Jesus established the Church of God for the salvation of all mankind on this earth when He came the first time about 2,000 years ago. The Church of God, which the apostles who were taught directly by Jesus worked for, was keeping all the truth of the new covenant (Isa 33:20; Ps 132:13–133:3). Following the example of Christ, they kept the Sabbath of the new covenant as their custom and celebrated the Passover—the truth of eternal life (Ac 17:2; 18:4; 1 Co 5:7; 11:23).
2) Period of Roman Persecution
After the apostolic age, the church was severely persecuted by the Roman Empire until Christianity was established as the official religion of Rome. In that process, the church was divided into two. The Eastern Church in Asia Minor followed the gospel of Christ and kept the Sabbath and the Passover, which Jesus and the apostles had observed. The Western Church, centered in Rome, accepted the Roman practice of the sun-god worship and began to keep Sunday, forsaking the Sabbath, around A.D. 100.
Moreover, the Roman Popes—Anicetus around A.D. 155 and Victor around A.D. 197—insisted that Holy Communion should be held on the first Sunday after the Passover—the day when Jesus was resurrected, and they forced the Eastern Church to abandon the Passover which had been observed in accordance with the Bible.
3) Period of Secularization
As Christianity was declared as the official religion of Rome at the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313 and began to be acknowledged by the world, the church became secular rapidly. In A.D. 321, Constantine the Roman emperor made Sunday a holiday and day of rest throughout the empire. So, Sunday became the day of worship, as the Western Church insisted. In A.D. 325, the Passover was completely abolished at the Council of Nicaea, which determined that Pascha should be held on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. In A.D. 354, the Roman Church began to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25—the birthday of the sun god.
Lawlessness became prevalent in the churches as they forsook the Sabbath and the Passover and chose to keep Sunday and Christmas, following the Roman Catholic Church. So, the saints who had sincere faith had to hide in mountains or deserts to keep the truth. They preserved the truth with much difficulty, but it finally disappeared so that no one in the world could find the truth for such a long time. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy that the devil would speak against God and change the set times and the laws of God.
4) Period of Papacy
From the end of the fourth century, the Germanic peoples who had moved into the Roman Empire started to convert to Catholicism; and the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, came to have absolute power all over Europe. Then the truth disappeared and the Dark Ages came: Lawlessness became prevalent, and the Papacy wielded absolute power for 1,260 years and oppressed God’s people through the Inquisition and other forms of torture (Da 7:25).
5) Period of Reformation
As the corruption of the Papacy reached its worst, the Protestant Reformation arose and many Protestant churches were established. However, none of them could restore the truth of the new covenant that had existed in the apostolic age. The reformers just shouted the reformation of faith and kept following the doctrines of the Catholic Church.
Even up until now, many Protestant churches have been still observing the laws made by the Catholic Church; they keep Sunday, the day set aside for the worship of the sun-god Mithra, and they celebrate Christmas on December 25, the birthday of the sun god. For about 1,600 years since the Passover was abolished in A.D. 325, many religious reformers and scholars appeared and studied the Bible, but none of them could restore the truth of the new covenant that Jesus had established at His first coming.
Jesus restores the truth of life at His second coming
Even though the religious reformers and scholars made great efforts, they could not restore the truth of eternal life which Jesus had established at His first coming. It is because only Jesus, who is to come a second time, can restore the truth of the new covenant that disappeared from the earth.
Rev 5:1–5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Since the truth of the new covenant disappeared, human beings have been unable to be saved. In regard to this situation, the Bible records that the scroll was sealed with seven seals. The secrets of the Bible, which were sealed up, can only be opened by the Root of David, Jesus who is to come a second time (Rev 22:16).
According to this prophecy, Jesus has come again in the flesh to restore the truth of life, which the saints once lost (1 Co 4:5; Heb 9:28). The feasts of the new covenant including the Passover are so precious that God Himself has come and preached them to us. Let us give thanks to God for coming to this earth again to set us free from the chain of lawlessness, and keep the feasts of the new covenant God has restored, so we can all attain salvation.