So far we’ve focused primarily on ways in which the New Covenant has not yet been fulfilled. What about ways that it has been or is currently fulfilled?
First of all, I think the New Covenant pertains to the Remnant that has existed in every generation in a first fruits sort of way. In every generation God has proven his faithfulness to his promises by preserving the Remnant. In Genesis we find Joseph telling his brothers what God has revealed to him:
And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. Genesis 45:7 (ESV)
In Judges, a time of fluctuating obedience and disobedience, when every man did as was right in his own eyes there was still a remnant:
Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty. Judges 5:13 (ESV)
In 2 Kings 19 we find still a remnant even after years and years of wicked kings. In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah there is still a remnant (Ezra 9); the prophets are filled with discussion regarding the gathering again of the remnant of Israel to Himself. In Acts we find that this remnant will include believing Gentiles:
And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ Acts 15:15-18 (ESV)
And the Apostle Paul confirms this for us in the letter to the congregation in Rome, chapters 9 and 11.
So we see that the remnant in every generation is like first fruits of the New Covenant. The Spirit is writing God’s law on their hearts, or it may even be accurate to say that He has done so with those who have been buried and raised in Messiah as new creation. So this remnant prefigures the return of Israel proper to God as a nation. But in that prefiguring we are supposed to see the first fruits of “the least to the greatest” knowing the Lord, a foretaste of walking in His rules and being careful to obey His statutes (Ezekiel 37:24).
As one author has put it, “The remnant participates in the realities of the New Covenant in anticipation of its future fulfillment in the nation of Israel.” (T. Hegg, unpublished paper).
This is a difficult concept to apprehend. D.T. Lancaster explained it this way:
In 2 Corinthians 3:14 Paul referred to the Torah of Moses as the old covenant so long as it was read without the realization of Messiah. He said that once we are in Messiah, the veil is “removed.” The Torah remains, but the veil concealing Messiah within it is removed. Similarly, the book of Hebrews quotes the prophet Jeremiah to prove that in the new covenant, the Torah is written upon our hearts. (1)
Perhaps it could be summarized this way:
Old Covenant: The attempt to keep the Torah according to the covenant at Sinai without realization of Messiah, resulting in condemnation.
New Covenant: The writing of the Torah on our hearts through the realization of Messiah according to the covenant in Jeremiah 31, resulting in salvation.
As New Covenant members in Jesus, we are part of the faithful remnant of Israel, having been baptized into the same body, by the same Spirit. Therefore, being first fruits of the New Covenant, part of the remnant of Israel, our lives out to be characterized by obedience to that Torah which has been/is being written on our hearts.
(1) D. Thomas Lancaster, Restoration:Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus, p 33.