We saw in Part 1 that Yahweh expected Israel to fail in keeping His covenants, and to incur the curses prescribed as a result – but that He was not willing for this to be an end for them, because of His promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and for His own great name’s sake (Ezek 36:22-28).
We have already seen that a ‘new covenant’ of a different kind was to be Yahweh’s solution, and that this was to be a covenant with Israel, an everlasting covenant, a covenant of peace, and one that would impact the whole of creation.
So what is the nature of this covenant, and how and when will it be implemented, and can it involve us?
Are we told by Jeremiah that this will be a ‘new’ covenant?
Jeremiah 31:31 WEB
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
The Hebrew word translated ‘new’ here is Strong’s ref. 2319 meaning ‘new, fresh, new thing’. In the very next verse the covenant described as ‘new’ is also described as ‘not like’ the previous covenant:
Jeremiah 31:32 LEB
“not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day of my grasping them by their hand, bringing them out from the land of Egypt, my covenant that they themselves broke, though I myself was a master over them,” declares Yahweh.”
The same word is used a few verses earlier:
Jeremiah 31:22 CEV
Will you ever decide to be faithful? I will make sure that someday things will be different, as different as a woman protecting a man.
This same word is used to described ‘new things’ – king (Exodus 1:8), grain (Leviticus 23:16), house (Deuteronomy 20:5), wife (Deuteronomy 24:5), song (Psalms 33:3), and many other things that were ‘brand new’ as opposed to ‘renewed’. So this covenant is to be new, different, not like the old one, fresh – but in what way?
Jeremiah goes on to highlight one essential and entirely new attribute of this covenant:
Jeremiah 31:33 WEB
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:
Jeremiah 24:7 WEB
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Yahweh: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
It will involve ‘internal changes’– in the heart, in the mind, in motivations. Do we see this confirmed by other scriptures:
Was this prophesied in Deuteronomy and other scriptures:
Deuteronomy 30:1-6 WEB
It shall happen, when all these things are come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where Yahweh your God has driven you,
2 and shall return to Yahweh your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul;
3 that then Yahweh your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, where Yahweh your God has scattered you.
4 If [any of] your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of the heavens, from there will Yahweh your God gather you, and from there will he bring you back:
5 and Yahweh your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers.
6 Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.
Jeremiah 32:37-41 WEB
Behold, I will gather them out of all the countries, where I have driven them in my anger, and in my wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them again to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:
38 and they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
40 and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from following them, to do them good; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me.
41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
Ezekiel 11:17-20 WEB
Therefore say, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: 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 They shall come there, and they shall take away all the detestable things of it and all the abominations of it from there.
19 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh;
20 that they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 WEB
For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 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 a heart of flesh.
27 I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my ordinances, and do them.
28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
In the scriptures above, notice how this is to be accomplished – is it by the indwelling of Yahweh’s spirit that this transformation is brought about? A change from the inside out! He makes it possible for us to internalise His good and beneficial way of life and to obey His laws.
Will this covenant involve each person in an individual, personal relationship with Yahweh, in which He will forgive their sin and completely forget it?
Jeremiah 31:34 WEB
and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Yahweh; for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.
The Hebrew scriptures clearly point out that the ‘new covenant’ will be with Israel, why did Yahweh choose Israel to be His people, were they inherently better than others, would they better represent Him?
Deuteronomy 7:6-9 WEB
For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God: Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth.
7 Yahweh didn’t set his love on you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all peoples:
8 but because Yahweh loves you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore to your fathers, has Yahweh brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9 Know therefore that Yahweh your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with them who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,
It was Yahweh’s sovereign choice, He promised and He is faithful!
However, let us not forget Yahweh’s promises to Abraham in Genesis:
Genesis 12:3 WEB
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. In you will all of the families of the earth be blessed.”
Genesis 22:18 WEB
In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
The people of all nations will be blessed through Abraham’s descendents in Yahweh’s plan, and Isaiah describes a time when ‘foreigners’ (gentiles) and ‘others’ will also be involved in the covenant of Yahweh:
Isaiah 56:1-8 WEB
Thus says Yahweh, Keep you justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.
3 Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, Yahweh will surely separate me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
4 For thus says Yahweh of the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant:
5 To them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant;
7 even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
8 The Lord Yahweh, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, Yet will I gather [others] to him, besides his own who are gathered.
How was this covenant to be brought and offered to the people and nation of Israel? Would there be a mediator as there was in the case of Moses at Sinai?
Isaiah 42:1, 6-7 WEB
Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delights: I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
6 I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison-house.
Isaiah 49:5-8 WEB
Now says Yahweh who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, and that Israel be gathered to him (for I am honorable in the eyes of Yahweh, and my God is become my strength);
6 yes, he says, It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.
7 Thus says Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, [and] his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Yahweh who is faithful, [even] the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.
8 Thus says Yahweh, In an acceptable time have I answered you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you; and I will preserve you, and give you for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritage:
Isaiah 59:20-21 WEB
A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from disobedience in Jacob, says Yahweh.
21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, says Yahweh: my Spirit who is on you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed, says Yahweh, from henceforth and forever.
Hebrews 8:6 NRSV
But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises.
Galatians 3:16 NRSV
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 NRSV
For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human,
6 who gave himself a ransom for all —this was attested at the right time.
Hebrews 12:24 NRSV
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
We see that Messiah (Christ) Jesus was the mediator of the new covenant, and much more as we have seen in previous studies – see articles in Category ‘Jesus’.
In the next part we will study further what happened when Jesus came as that messenger/mediator of the new covenant.