The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker
THE NEW COVENANT WITH ISRAEL AND JUDAH
- Jeremiah 31:31 tells us that there is going to be a new covenant made with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.
- While the blessings of the new covenant are ours today, it should be noted that the new covenant is not with the Church, but "with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah" (Jer. 31:31).
- In the epistle to the Hebrews, it is stated that the new covenant is to be made with “the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Hebrews 8:8-13).
- The mediator of that covenant is the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The blood of the new covenant is that which He shed for our sins.
- H.A. Ironside said, "Therefore believers now rejoice in the distinctive blessings it insures; but it is with the earthly, not with the heavenly, people that the covenant itself is to be made" (Jeremiah and Lamentations).
- Ironside it is foolish "to speak of a new covenant with the Church, when no former covenant had been made with us. In the case of Israel and Judah it is different. They entered into the covenant of works at Sinai. That covenant had two parties to it. If they did their part, God would fulfil His."
GOD WILL SEE TO IT THAT THEY KEEP THIS COVENANT
- The old Mosaic covenant was based on the law, and Israel failed (31:32).
- But the new covenant will be based on grace.
- "Associated with the old covenant were outward ordinances and objects (Heb. 9:1-10), which were not intended to save but rather to teach the sinfulness of sin and the lost condition of men, and point to (prefigure, typify) Christ as Saviour" (Irving L. Jensen, Jeremiah and Lamentations).
- Galatians 3:24 says, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
- Israel broke the old covenant, but in the new covenant, the LORD will put His law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and He will be their God, and they shall be His people (31:33).
- The new covenant is personal as well as national, with the LORD putting His law in the heart of each individual person (31:33).
- Ezekiel 36:26 and 27 says, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
- Warren Wiersbe says, "The emphasis is personal rather than national, with each person putting faith in the Lord and receiving a 'new heart' and with it a new disposition toward godliness. The Old Covenant tried to control conduct, but the New Covenant changes character so that people can love the Lord and one another and want to obey God's will" (The Bible Exposition Commentary).
- Today unregenerate Jews are trying to live under the old covenant. When they are restored during the millennial kingdom they will repent and enjoy the blessings of the new covenant (cf. Zech. 12:10--13:1).
- The new covenant is based upon our Lord's substitutionary death on the cross. Hebrews 12:24 says Jesus is "the mediator of the new covenant."
- There is no possibility of failure here, because the new covenant will be an unconditional covenant, and shall never be abrogated.
- Unconditional covenants are everlasting covenants. The LORD made an unconditional covenant with David. The LORD promised David that the Messiah would come from the house and lineage of David.
- The Davidic covenant and the new covenant are unconditional because the LORD did not place any conditions of obedience upon their fulfillment.
- Unlike the "old (Mosaic) covenant," the surety of these promises rests solely on God's faithfulness, not on man's obedience.
- David said it is “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure” (II Sam. 23:5).
- Israel and Judah will be reunited as one nation. They will be back in their land -- restored, repentant, redeemed, reconciled, and regenerated (cf. Ezek. 36:24-38). They shall never again forfeit the Lord’s favor.
GOD WILL SEE TO IT THAT THEY ARE SECURE
- In Jeremiah 31:35, the LORD is identified as "The LORD of hosts." "Hosts" refers to His armies. He marshals the sun, and the moon and the stars.
- The LORD who divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar, will keep Israel safe and secure. This passage clearly ensures the perpetuity of Israel as a nation.
- The LORD says the fixed order of the universe would be set aside before He ever allowed Israel to cease from being a nation (31:36, 37).
- H.A. Ironside said, "The vastness of the heavens above and the earth beneath set forth this immeasurable mercy to Israel. In the face of this passage, what possible ground is there left for those to stand upon who teach the ultimate rejection of the once-favored nation?"
GOD WILL SEE TO IT THAT JERUSALEM WILL BE REBUILT
- The rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem after the exiles returned from Babylon prefigured its future rebuilding and expansion during the millennial kingdom when the Lord returns to rule from the throne of David (31:38-40; cf. Isaiah 2:2-5).
- "The tower of Hananeel" (31:38) is at the northeast corner of Jerusalem (cf. Zech. 14:9, 10).
- The tower of Hananeel is also mentioned in Nehemiah 3:1 and 12:39.
- "The gate of the corner" is apparently at the northwest corner. It is also mentioned in Zechariah 14:10.
- "The whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes" (31:40) refers to the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem. Our Lord used it as a picture of hell (Gehenna).
- When the Lord returns, the valley of Hinnom and the entire area surrounding Jerusalem will be clean and spacious. It will also be "holy unto the LORD" (31:40).
- H.A. Ironside said, "To no period of the past can these words apply. In our Lord’s time the filthy stench of the valley of Hinnom still polluted the atmosphere. It was in no sense holy unto the Lord. To the future alone can we look for a fulfillment that shall accord with, and transcend, the promise" (Jeremiah and Lamentations).
- "It shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever" (31:40b). This refers to the new Jerusalem, the eternal city of God.
Back in 1915, nearly 100 years ago, W. Graham Scroggie said this about the future restoration of Israel: "Before the Restoration, Reunion, and Readjustment take place, of which we have spoken, the Jews, in unbelief, will have returned to Palestine -- a circumstance required in order to the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the end; and a circumstance which we see in process of accomplishment at the present time” (Prophecy and History).