The Nation of Israel Symbolizes the Individual Christian: The blessings that accompany Israel's New Covenant are promises to the "nation" of Israel: "The time is coming," declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah' " (Jer.31:31).
Progressive Dispensationalist Bruce A. Ware writes that "it is clear from Jeremiah 31:31 that Yahweh promises to make a new covenant with all of Israel, that is, 'with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah' " (Blaising & Bock, Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church [emphasis added] [Zondervan Publishing, 1992], p.70).
Under Israel's New Covenant that "nation" will be cleansed from all of her iniquities: "Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities" (Ez.36:32-33).
Today's New Covenant is focused on the "individual": "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor.3:6; NIV).
As minister's we are to preach the gospel which comes in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess.1:5) to "individual" sinners: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved...And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Ro.10:13-14; NIV).
"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Ro.10:10).
Earthly Blessings vs. Heavenly Blessings: Although Isreal's New Covenant will provide for the regeneration and forgiveness of sins of that nation nonetheless it remains an earthly covenant. As mentioned earlier, by its very nature a "nation" is earthly, having territorial and political characteristics. Under's Israel's New Covenant the blesssings will be received on the earth and are of an earthly nature:
"Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land...I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land" (Ez.37:14,21; NIV).
In the Nicodemus Sermon the Lord Jesus spoke of regeneration in connection with the "individual" sinner as well as with the "nation" of Israel. He told Nicodemus:
"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (Jn.3:3; NIV).
To this Nicodemus asked how he could be born again when he is old, and the Lord Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (Jn.3:5-6; NIV).
Previously the Lord had been speaking of an individual's regeneration but He now begins to speak of the nation of Israel's regeneration. The Lord shifts from using the second person "singular" pronoun "you" to the second person "plural":
"You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (Jn.3:7-8; NIV).[ A footnote in the NIV at verse seven says, "The Greek is plural."]
Nicodemus still not understand, asking, "How can these things be?"
By the Lord's reply we can understand that Nicodemus should have been aware of some truth in the OT Scriptures which spoke of a regeneration by the Spirit: "Art thou a teacher of Israel, and knoweth not these things?" (v.10).
Nicodemus should have been aware of the prophecies that speak of the blessings of the New Covenant promised to the nation of Israel. In the thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel we see "water" being sprinkled on that nation and the Lord putting His Spirit within that nation (Ez.36:25,27).
Then in the very next chapter we see verses describing the regeneration of the nation of Israel, and these same verses use similar language about the "wind": "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army...Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live" (Ez.37: 9-10, 13-14).
These verses are in regard to the vision of "the valley of dry bones" saw by the prophet Ezekiel. The bones are likened to the nation of Israel being in the grave--"These bones are the whole house of Israel" (Ez.37:11). Charles H. Dyer writes that "the breath of life the corpses received symbolized the Holy Spirit, promised in Israel's New Covenant" (Walvoord & Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Old Testament [ChariotVictor Publishing, 1985], p.1298).
Because Nicodemus was ignorant of these prophetic passages that speak of Israel's New Covenant the Lord told Him: "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" (Jn.3:12; NIV).
The "earthly things" to which the Lord refers is the regeneration of the "nation" of Israel. The "heavenly things" are in regard to an "individual" believer's regeneration. Therefore we can see that the design of the typological relationship between the two New Covenants is the same design as the types in regard to Israel's journey from Egypt to the promised land.
Type: The Lord told the "nation" of Israel that her New Covenant provides for a forgiveness of sins: "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel...After those days, saith the LORD, I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jer.31:33-34).
Antitype: Paul writes that "In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding" (Eph.1:7-8).
The Christian has forgiveness of sins "in Him," being baptized into His death and "raised up together" and sitting "in heavenly places in Christ" (Ro.6:3; Eph.2:6).
Type: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel...No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD" (Jer.31:33-34).
Antitype: All those under today's New Covenant know the Lord: "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true-even in His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn.5:20).