"Whereas a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the former covenant, they who have been called may receive eternal inheritance according to the promise, in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Heb.9:14b,15).
These words, taken from St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, make clear how important it is for us to understand the nature of our relationship with God, so that we may not be deprived of our eternal inheritance. We are united with God in a Covenant, a sacred agreement between God and His Holy Church. We can compare it with the marriage covenant, in which a man and woman promise to be true to each other in an exclusive relationship for as long as they both shall live. Our Covenant with God calls us to a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, which will last for all eternity in Heaven.
In the Covenant we are bound to God by promises, the breaking of which incurs guilt and consequent punishment. We must repent, and sin no more! We enter the Covenant through Baptism, but the real Covenant Ritual during which we consummate our relationship with God is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is the beginning here on earth of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church, described in the Book of the Apocalypse, or Revelation.
The "former covenant" to which St. Paul refers is the Sinai Covenant. On Mount Sinai Moses received from God the tablets of the Law containing the Ten Commandments. The people were sprinkled with the blood of animals to signify their being of one life with God, and they promised to do everything that the Lord commanded.
If we are to be saved, it is important for us - and for the Jews - to understand the history of man's relationship with God, what happened to the original Covenant, and why there is a New Covenant to which we must all belong! We say these things in all charity towards the Jews because their eternal salvation is at stake. Pointing the finger of blame at the Jews will not save us, nor will it help them. The only way to help the Jews is to preach to them the Gospel of Salvation, and to pray for their conversion, as the true Church has always done.
The Covenant God made with the Jews, or with the Hebrews as they were then called, is spelled out in detail in Sacred Scripture in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. If the people keep God's Commandments they will be blessed: "If you live in accordance with My precepts and are careful to observe my commandments, I will give you rain in due season, so that the land will bear its crops, and the trees their fruit; your threshing will last till vintage time, and your vintage till the time for sowing, and you will have food to eat in abundance, so that you may dwell securely in your land" (Lev.26:3-5).
But there are also covenant curses, punishments that would be theirs if they broke the Covenant: "But if you do not heed Me and do not keep all these commandments, if you reject My precepts and spurn My decrees, refusing to obey all My commandments and breaking My covenant… I will punish you with terrible woes…" (Lev.26:14-16).
The covenant woes of Leviticus are grouped in four sets of seven chastisements. If the people failed to repent after the first chastisements, they would suffer seven more severe punishments: "If you do not obey Me I will punish you seven times more for your sins" (Lev.26:18). After the third set, if they were still unrepentant, God's patience would be exhausted, and they would have to endure the final set of seven terrible woes.
Israel's ultimate act of defiance against God was its rejection of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, which broke their Covenant with God and merited for them the seven-fold covenant curses. Jesus Himself foretold this when He thundered woes against the Scribes and the Pharisees, declaring that upon them would come "all the just blood that has been shed on the earth" and that "all these things will come upon this generation" (Mt.23:33-36).
The Apocalypse of St. John, the last book of the Bible, gives us an account of the struggle between those who hold to the Old Covenant, symbolized by the harlot dressed in purple and scarlet, riding upon the scarlet beast, and the holy and immaculate Bride of Christ, the Church of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant fails as the covenant curses described in Leviticus fall upon unfaithful Israel, initiated by the opening of seven seals by the Lamb, the sounding of seven trumpets by the angels, the roar of seven thunders (although St. John is commanded not to write what they spoke), and the pouring out of seven bowls of wrath upon the earth by the angels. Jerusalem, called Babylon in the Apocalypse, is utterly destroyed. St. John echoes the words of Jesus: "And in her was found blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain upon the earth:" (Apoc.18:24).
Although many have said that the "Babylon" of the Apocalypse was pagan Rome, Rome had no covenant with God, so it was not under the covenant curses, as Jerusalem was. The definitive end of the Old Covenant and Jewish Temple worship would come with the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., during which up to a million Jews would die amidst unimaginable horrors. These would be the Covenant Curses.
The Jews who remained after the destruction of Jerusalem were dispersed by the Romans among the nations in fulfillment of the last of the covenant curses in Leviticus: "You yourselves I will scatter among the nations at the point of my drawn sword, leaving your countryside desolate and your cities deserted" (Lev.26:33). But God would not entirely forget the Jews, and would bring them back to play their part in the end-time events, before the Second Coming of the Lord.
The Church is now the New Israel, so that there is now only one valid Covenant to which all must belong who wish to be saved. As St. Paul says in Romans: "Christ is the consummation of the Law unto justice for everyone who believes" (Rom.10:4). "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved," says Jesus, "but he who does not believe shall be condemned" (Mk.16:16).
But because of widespread infidelity and apostasy within the Church, the bowls of God's wrath are already being poured out anew upon the earth, in particular because the Modernists who have taken over the Vatican have nullified God's judgments by recognizing the apostate Jews as "the people of the covenant," and "our elder brothers in the faith." They tell them that there are two valid Covenants, theirs and the Christian Covenant. Thus they deny Jesus Christ and make Him out to be a liar, and they deprive the Jews of the saving message of the Gospel.
St. John declares: "If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God which is greater, that he has borne witness concerning his Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony of God in himself. He who does not believe the Son, makes him a liar; because he does not believe the witness that God has borne concerning His Son. And this is the testimony, that God has given us eternal life; and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life. He who has not the Son has not the life" (1 Jn.5:9-12).
The Apocalypse ends with the appearance of the beautiful Bride of Christ, the Church, the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven. And a voice from the Throne declares: "Behold the dwelling of God with men, and He will dwell with them. And they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (Apoc.21:3-4).
We look for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has made all things new (Apoc.21:5). He says to us: "It is true, I come quickly!" And we reply, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Apoc.21:20).