Examining the New Covenant – Part 2

Does the modern-day state of Israel qualify as a re-unification of Israel and Judah? I doubt it. For one thing, Israel (the secular state) has recently relinquished much of the lands allotted to Judah. Furthermore, it seems likely that when re-united they will once again be ruled over by a King-in this case, by an eternally ruling King Messiah.

What else can we deduce by observing this passage carefully? (Jeremiah 31:31-34) Jeremiah considered the New Covenant to be a still future event. The covenant described is national in scope; by extension we would say that it is to be made with the physical offspring of Jacob and those who through faith in Messiah have joined her (the ger or “sojourner” who is among you).

Jeremiah records God noting that the new covenant will be different than the one enacted in Sinai. A careful exegesis reveals that, contrary to popular assumption, the contrast is made between how Israel receives the covenant, not between the content of the covenants themselves. Whereas the nation rebelled against the covenant given at Sinai, Israel will collectively embrace the new covenant.

Beside the evidence of the text itself, how can we be certain of this? As far as God is concerned the covenant he made with Israel at Sinai is eternal. While the nation herself may be unfaithful and forfeit the blessings of the covenant, the covenant itself remains intact because it relies on the faithfulness of God’s promise-God’s righteousness-not on the faithfulness of God’s people.

“You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you…. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. Exodus 31:13, 16 (ESV)

For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. (16) One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” Numbers 15:15-16 (ESV)

When affirming that the content of the two covenants is the same, it is important to note that God delivered the “law” to Israel at Sinai, as verse 33 records that God will also do via the new covenant-the significant difference in relation to God being that this time He Himself will write His torah on their hearts, rather than delivering the torah to them via a mediator and writing it on stone tablets or in the “Book of the Law.” The same Torah against which Israel rebelled will be the Torah that is written upon her heart when God enacts the New Covenant; the evidence of her new heart will be her obedience to God’s commands, statutes and ordinances. Only God can change hearts, and He promises to do so for Israel-note also the time period that this reiteration of the New Covenant lends itself to:

Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ (18) And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. (19) And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, (20) that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:17-20 (ESV)

One thought on “Examining the New Covenant – Part 2

  1. “Does the modern-day state of Israel qualify as a re-unification of Israel and Judah?”

    Good question. I do believe that the rebirth of Israel as a state was the fulfillment of the beginning of Ezekiel’s prophecy, “Thus says the L-rd G-D: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

    Not that long ago, this prophecy was discussed on Israel National Radio. It is interesting to note that HaShem extrapolates on this concept of return throughout the book of Ezekiel. The INR commentator noted that it wasn’t until after Israel was gathered back to her land would HaShem cleanse her of her sins. The NIV translation of Ezekiel 36:24-27 reads:

    “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

    In other words, not only will the remnant cleanse the land (as you quote in chapter 11) the remnant herself will be cleansed after arrival. Chapter 36 also expounds on the promise in Jeremiah 31:33, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts,” by explaining that HaShem will forge this “new covenant” through sharing His Ruach with us.

    In other words, if the ingathering of the remnant and the establishment of modern day Eretz Yisrael is the fulfillment of the beginning of the prophecy, imagine what is in store right around the corner! Very exciting stuff.

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