At the end of Jeremiah 31:33, God says “I will be their God, and they shall be My people,” tying the new covenant once again to the Sinai covenant. An exploration of Exodus 6:7-8 will not only amplify the connection to verse 33 of the Jeremiah passage, but also provide yet another tie in.
I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (8) I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.'” Exodus 6:7-8 (ESV)
Note that not only is the same idea I will be your God and you will be my people expressed, but when this becomes really interesting is in an analysis of the language “I will take you to be my people.” Ancient Hebrew had no word for marriage, the expression of this idea was v’lekach ti or “I will take you”. So we see that not only does God say in Jeremiah 31:32, “I was a husband to them.”, but in Exodus 6 He says “I will take you (the people of Israel) to be my bride.” Fixing once again the idea that while Israel’s response to the “old” and new covenant will be different, the content of the covenants is not contrasted but harmonized.
It is also significant to note the connection made in Exodus 6 to the Abrahamic covenant. Notice that the Sinai is connected to the Abrahamic and the New is connected to the Sinai covenant. As are all of God’s covenants. We ought not to look on them as individualized, unique contracts, but as progressively revealed and contiguously related. The core message of God’s promise is revealed in Genesis, then expanded and amplified throughout the rest of the Scriptures.
Walter Kaiser expressed this very well,
“The progress of revelation has an organic aspect in which the identity of the germ contained in the earliest mention of a theme continues in the buildup of that theme as the same seminal idea takes on a more developed form in later revelation.” (1)
I refer you once again to Jeremiah 31, to note with even more particular care the phrase, “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” We have all ready noted that this ties the New Covenant back to the Sinai Covenant, but it must also be understood that this ties the New Covenant to God’s eternal plan.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:3 (ESV)
The New Covenant will also be different because Israel’s obedience to God will be on a national scale, “they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” While acceptance of the covenant by Israel and obedience to God’s stipulations will be national, it is equally significant that the covenant will be based on God’s forgiveness of Israel’s sin-this also will be a whole-scale, national condition. Verse 34 says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
So we have a couple indicators that the New Covenant has not yet been completely fulfilled:
The dispersed people of Israel have not yet been reunited as a single nation under God
As a people, Israel has not yet evidenced faithful obedience to God
As a people, Israel has not yet recognized Jesus as the Messiah, in order that they might be eternally forgiven for their violations of the Covenant terms (Torah-lessness).
Next time we will discuss further the ways in which the New Covenant has been or is being fulfilled.
(1) Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. and Moises Silva, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p 143