Israel's Unconditional Covenants Part 4

by Joseph H Hunting

"... I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant I made with their fathers ... but ... I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be My people ..." Jeremiah 31:31-34

The New Covenant is the fourth and final unconditional covenant which God has made with Israel. Each of the preceding covenants contained certain aspects of God's plan and purpose for Israel. The Eternal highlighted His call to Abraham and that through him all nations of the world would be blessed. The Canaanic covenant gave Israel the title deeds to the Land of Promise, whilst the Davidic covenant promised Israel a King-Messiah who will reign in peace, justice and righteousness.

The New Covenant was promised by God through Jeremiah at the time when the last reigning king of the Messianic dynasty had gone into captivity and Jerusalem was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar prior to the city's total destruction.

The New Covenant was promised because Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah had broken the terms of the covenant God made with them at Sinai. And just as God had made His covenants at Mount Sinai with all twelve tribes, so He promised that the New Covenant would be made with both the houses of Israel and Judah.

Because the terms of the New Covenant supersede those given at Mount Sinai, and because it is the same God who has made these terms it will be an interesting exercise to note the differences. "Behold, the days come, says the LORD (the Hebrew Bible designates the LORD as YHVH), that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; WHICH MY COVENANT THEY BRAKE, although I was an husband unto them, says the LORD.

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, says the LORD, I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

I have noted the difference between the Law made at Mount Sinai and the New Covenant by the passages in capitals.

Whereas the Law given at Mount Sinai was conditional upon Israel obeying commandments, there are no conditions whatever in the terms of the New Covenant. The only uncertainty about it is the time element when it was promised by Jeremiah. Indeed, God confirms the unconditional element with the following amazing statement: "Thus says the LORD, which gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; the LORD of hosts is His name: if those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me for ever" (35:36).

That assurance given by God concerning the everlasting and eternal quality of the New Covenant should silence all critics. But just to make doubly sure that He means what He says we read this further assurance given by the Eternal of the everlasting nature of the New Covenant: "Thus says the LORD: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off ALL the seed of Israel for ALL that they have done, says the LORD" (31:37).

So far so good. The terms of the New Covenant are unconditional and everlasting. But what of the time element? According to Jeremiah God would make the covenant at an unspecified future date. No further word of this covenant is made until we turn to the account of the last recorded Passover and this is found in the pages of the New Testament. "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover ... And when the hour was come He (Yeshua) sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

"And He took the cup and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And He took bread, and gave thanks and broke it, and gave unto them saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.

"Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, THIS CUP IS THE NEW COVENANT IN MY BLOOD, WHICH IS SHED FOR YOU" (Luke 22:1,14-20).

It is significant that there are seven recorded observances of the Passover in the Tenach. Seven is a number that denotes fulfilment or completeness. The eighth recorded Passover is the one just quoted. Eight is the Scriptural number that denotes a new beginning. Thus the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah was ratified at the Passover when the Lamb of God sealed the Covenant with His blood.