PART ONE: THE FIRST COVENANT
1 - What Is A Covenant?
2 - The Covenant with Israel
3 - The Holy Assembly
4 - The Torah
5 - The Sabbath Covenant
6 - The Feasts of the Lord
7 - Other Nations Enter the Covenant
8 - The Desecration of the Covenant
9 - The Promise of A New Covenant
PART TWO: THE NEW COVENANT
10 - The New Covenant
11 - The Holy Assembly
12 - The Torah
13 - The Sabbath Covenant
14 - The Feasts of the Lord
15 - Gentiles Enter the Covenant
16 - The Desecration of the Covenant
9 - The Promise of A New Covenant
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 31:31-34)
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.
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 marriage relationship.
"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 covenant.
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 book.
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 terms.
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 God".
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 wife Israel.
Copyright © 2004
Jeff A. Benner
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