Friday, May 28, 2010

The New Covenant & Israel

The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Here is stated God's promise to form a new covenant with Israel. The Church is not in view here. We would no more say that God made the new covenant with the church in this passage than we would say that God gave the LAW of Moses to the Church at Mount Sinai. Clearly the Lord is addressing the people who have violated the Law and are in danger of coming judgment. I want to exegete the features of this covenant to see what God has promised the nation, and what is involved in the new covenant.
First, it is a Jewish covenant. As stated above, Gentiles are not here spoken of. The object of the covenant is the "house of Israel and the house of Judah". The kingdom was still divided. This cannot be the church. It cannot be Gentile. Sounds Jewish to me.

2. The covenant was still future. God did not institute it at the time it was spoken, but only spoke of it's impending replacement of the old covenant.

3. That brings me to the next point. The new covenant will be new in that it will not be like the Sinai Covenant. Israel broke that covenant. The blessings of it are conditioned on the obedience of the people, and it's clear they had violated from the start. The new covenant will be characterized by dissimilarity and discontinuity with the old covenant. Like a wayward wife, Israel was unfaithful to God, characterized by spiritual idolatry of the pagans around her and the breaking of her Sabbaths.

4. The New Covenant will bring the law into their hearts. This is in contrast to the old covenant written by the finger of God on stone tablets.(Exodus 24:12;  Deuteronomy 4:13)

5. Israel will be God's people. They will all know the Lord. There won't be any ignorance of God or spiritual separation. Israel will fulfill her true role as the elect nation, because of the spiritual work of God in their hearts.

6. The covenant is unilateral. God alone will fulfill the terms of the Covenant. There is no mention of any duty on the part of the people to fulfill the terms.

7. Similar to #6, the New Covenant is unconditional. Since God alone will act to perform the terms of the covenant, it's blessings come on the basis of His promises, it doesn't depend on Israel's obedience.

8. The law will be fulfilled by God putting it into people's heart. This will be based on the forgiveness of their sins, never again to be counted against them. Already we see the aspects of justification and regeneration promised in this covenant.

9. The promises of the new Covenant are comprehensive. They are all-encompassing to the people of Israel. Words like "no longer", "all" and "no more" are applied to the nation collectively. This speaks to the total blessing of all of God's remnant people.

From the least to the greatest, Israel will finally walk with God. All shall know him. This hasn't happened yet. There is still a future fulfillment of these things. Though it has begun already. And that will be for a another post.

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