9 - The Promise of A New
Even though Israel turned away
from God's covenant, time and again, God continues to be faithful to
them. In Jeremiah we see that God's grace for Israel continues as he
makes another promise to 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. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they
broke my covenant though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that
time," declares the LORD. "I will put my Torah in their minds and write
it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 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. "For I will forgive their
wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah
In the above passage we read; "[The New Covenant]
will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers". There are
two ways of looking at this new covenant. Either God has cancelled the
first covenant in order to bring in the new covenant or this new
covenant is a "renewal" of the first one. The second possibility
appears to be the proper way of looking at this new covenant. For
reasons which will follow.
Marriage Covenant with Israel
Also in the above passage we read; "they
broke my covenant though I was a husband to them". The covenant made
with Israel at Mount Sinai was in fact a marriage covenant between the
husband, God, and the bride, Israel. Isaiah chapter 54 shows this
"Your Maker is your husband - the LORD Almighty
is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the
God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife
deserted and distressed in spirit - a wife who married young, only to
be rejected," says your God. "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but
with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid
my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will
have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. "To me this is
like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never
again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again. Thought the mountains be shaken and the
hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor
my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on
you. (Isaiah 54:5-10)
Also, if we look at God's calling out of Israel in
the book of Exodus we will see some verbs showing the marriage between
God and Israel
"Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the
LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I
will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an
outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as
my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the
LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the
Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand
to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a
possession. I am the LORD." (Exodus 6:6-8)
Looking at the highlighted verbs above, we can see a
picture of a husband's relationship to his wife. The husband will bring
her out of her parents home, free her from her parents authority,
redeem her from her past, take her to be his own, bring her into his
home and give to her his own possessions.
If God had actually cancelled the "marriage
covenant", he would have been divorcing his bride/wife, Israel. I do
not believe that the God who said, "I hate divorce" (Malachi 2:16)
would divorce his own wife, Israel. If God made a new marriage covenant
with Israel, he would be remarrying his first wife. This does not sound
like the God of the Bible. Although, the Isaiah 54 passage states that
God did abandon Israel for a brief moment (7) he did not remove the
covenant (10). God did not end the first covenant or divorce Israel.
How then can God make a new covenant?
The Hebrew word for new in this passage is
chadash. Chadash can either be translated as new or renew. For example,
a new moon is not really a new moon but rather a renewed moon. The new
covenant can be looked at in this same manner, as a renewed
Therefore, this renewed covenant will be
different than the original covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai.
This passage does not give us all the details of this renewed covenant,
but there is enough information in this passage to get an idea of how
this new covenant is different.
Using the six parts to a covenant, let us
examine the Jeremiah 31 passage and see what we can glean from it.
Nothing new or different here. This covenant is
between God and Israel just as the original was at Mount Sinai.
First of all, God says; "I will forgive their
wickedness and will remember their sins no more." God is going to wipe
the slate clean, all the past sins of Israel will be forgiven with the
coming of this renewed covenant. God also promises; "I will be their
God and they will be my people" (33). This promise was originally given
to Abraham (Genesis 17:7) and confirmed to Israel
(Exodus 29:45, Leviticus 26:12, 2 Samuel 7:24). This
promise of the covenant is the same as the original.
The original condition given to Israel at Mount
Sinai was that the covenant would depend upon Israel's obedience to
God. Since Israel failed to meet the conditions of that covenant,
possibly God has changed the conditions in this new covenant. This is
hinted at when it says, "[The new covenant] will not be like the
covenant I made with their forefathers ... Because they broke my
covenant". God is making the change because they could not meet the
conditions of the original. Evidently, the conditions will change with
this new covenant. We will look at this possibility in part two of this
Jeremiah 31 does not tell us the duration, but
the next chapter does.
"I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I
will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me,
so that they will never turn away from me". (Jeremiah 32:40)
The duration is the same; the renewed covenant
is also an everlasting covenant. The one difference in the new covenant
is that God says, "they will never turn away from me". Since the
condition has changed, It appears that the new condition will provide
Israel with the ability to keep the new covenant under the new
From the Jeremiah 31 passage we can see that at
least one of the original signs remains, the Torah. There is a
difference in the renewed covenant. In the original covenant, God
commanded Israel to put his Torah on their hearts, but here God will
put it in their hearts for them. Israel was not able to meet the
conditions of the original covenant because their hearts turned away
from God as we saw in previous chapters, but here we see God's mercy in
his renewing provision for his people.
Ezekiel 11:19 gives a little more detail on how
this will be accomplished.
"I will give them an undivided heart, and put a
new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and
give them a heart of flesh: Then they will follow my decrees and be
careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their
Israel will be able to keep God's Torah because
he will give them a new spirit and a new heart and this new heart will
have his Torah written on it and the new spirit will enable them to
keep his Torah.
For the dedication we will have to wait and see
in the next chapter how this renewal of the covenant is dedicated.
When does this new covenant begin? To
answer this we need to go to the New Covenant. The second part of this
book will take a closer look at the renewal of God's covenant with his
- God promises to renew his covenant with
- The new covenant will not be like the original
- The six parts of the renewed covenant according
to Jeremiah 31 are,
- The parties; between God and Israel
- Promises; God will forgive Israel and will care
for her and he will write his Torah on their hearts.
- Condition; the reason for the new covenant is
because Israel could not keep the original condition. Jeremiah does not
explain the conditions of the new covenant.
- Duration; Everlasting
- Sign; The Torah remains.
- Dedication; Unknown at this time