Hebrews 8:7-9 Commentary

Hebrews 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Ei gar e prote ekeine en (3SIAI) amemptos, ouk an deuteras ezeteito (3SIPI) topos;

Amplified: For if that first covenant had been without defect, there would have been no room for another one or an attempt to institute another one. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Wuest: For if that first testament had been faultless, in that case there would not have been a constant searching out of a place for a second. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: for if that first were faultless, a place would not have been sought for a second.

FOR IF THAT FIRST HAD BEEN FAULTLESS THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO OCCASION SOUGHT FOR A SECOND: Ei gar hê prôtê ekeinê en (3SIAI) amemptos ouk an deuteras ezeteito (3SIPI) topos: (Hebrews 8:6; 7:11,18; Galatians 3:21)

Recommended Resource: For an excellent review of Hebrews 8:1-13 read Dr S Lewis Johnson (former professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary) or listen (Right Click here - download and listen on your computer or Ipod - ~61 minutes but well worth the time.) (Hebrews 8:1-13 Hebrews and the New Covenant)

For (gar) is a term of explanation- What is the writer explaining? He is explaining why the priesthood of Jesus is superior to the priesthood associated with the Old Covenant.

Brown - The argument for the pre-eminent excellence of our Lord’s high-priesthood, on which the Apostle enters in the words which follow, may be thus stated: ‘Jesus Christ, as a public functionary, is far superior in dignity to Aaron or any of his sons, for the covenant or economy in which He acts as a public functionary is of a far higher order than the covenant or economy in which they acted as public functionaries.’ (Brown, John: An Exposition of the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews, Vol. 1)

James Haldane - The Apostle had shown that it behoved our great High Priest to have somewhat to offer, since the very object of the priestly office is to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, ch. 5:1. He also argues that this offering could not be made upon earth, because priests were already appointed exclusively to offer gifts according to the law, whose services are an example and shadow of heavenly things, as had been plainly intimated to Moses. He therefore concludes that our great High Priest hath obtained a more excellent ministry, being the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. He thus introduced what he intended to say of the new covenant, the difference between which and the Sinai covenant is the grand object of the Epistle. (Notes Intended for an Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews)

Gromacki - The first covenant, the Mosaic Law with its attendant Levitical priestly system, was not “faultless” (amemptos). Since God gave the legal covenant, it was good and perfect in itself (James 1:17). It was truth and achieved its divine purpose. It was never intended to produce justification within the Israelite (Gal. 3:21). The law possessed fault only in that it depended upon man for its fulfillment, and therein was the problem. Paul commented: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh …” (Rom. 8:3). If the first covenant could have imparted eternal life to that person who obeyed it, then why did God promise to give Israel a new covenant? The prediction of the second demonstrates the temporary nature of the first and the replacement of the first by the second. (Stand Bold in Grace: An Exposition of Hebrews)

If - This if is a condition of the second class which assumes that the old covenant was not faultless. This would be perceived as quite a serious accusation and so the writer hastens to explain his reasons for such a "blasphemous" (not in truth but possibly to ears of some of his Jewish hearers) statement.

The writer had made a similar statement regarding the "inadequacy" of the Levitical priesthood writing...

Now if perfection (Ed note: making man acceptable to God giving him complete communion with God - the sacrificial Levitical system never achieved this goal) was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? (see note Hebrews 7:11)

Pastor Steven Cole - As I mentioned in our study of Heb 7:11-19, the idea of the Law of Moses being defective in any way would have been unthinkable for the Jews! The Law was the foundation of their entire way of life. It was the basis of their religious worship, which was the very warp and woof of being a Jew. In chapter 7, the author argued that the change of the priesthood required a change of the law also, since the two were inextricably bound together. He used Psalm 110:4 to show that David had predicted the change of the priesthood. Here, he cites Jeremiah 31 to show that the Old Testament itself also predicted a new covenant that would replace the old, Mosaic covenant. The reason for replacing the old covenant was that it was defective. (A Better Priest for a Better Covenant)

Spurgeon - WHEN God gave to Israel His law—the law of the first covenant—it was such a holy law that it ought to have been kept by the people. It was a just and righteous law, concerning which God said, “You must carry out my regulations, and you must observe my statutes by following them; I am Yahweh your God. And you shall observe my statutes and my regulations by which the person doing them shall live; I am Yahweh” (Lev 18:4–5). The law of the ten commandments is strictly just; it is such a law as a man might make for himself if he studied his own best interests and had wisdom enough to frame it aright. It is a perfect law, in which the interests of God and man are both studied. It is not a partial law, but impartial, complete, and covering all the circumstances of life. You could not take away one command out of the ten without spoiling both tables of the law, and you could not add another command without being guilty of making a superfluity. The law is holy, and just, and good; it is like the God who made it, it is a perfect law. Then, surely, it ought to have been kept. In the economy of grace of which our Lord is the surety no fault can be found, and in it there is no fuel for decay to feed upon. There is nothing about it that is weak and unprofitable, for it is “ordered in all things and sure” (2 Sam 23:5). “He takes away the first” (Heb 10:9), not that He may set up another that shall be removed in its turn, but “in order to establish the second.” In this second we have covenant purposes from eternity unalterable, love infinite and changeless, promises sure and inviolable, and pledges given that can never be withdrawn, for the Lord has sworn and will not repent.

O'Brien - God’s decision to establish a new covenant reveals that the first covenant was flawed. If human disobedience had been the only problem with the first covenant, ‘God might have renewed people’s willingness to obey the Sinai covenant’. But by replacing it with a new one, he showed that the first was flawed and brought nothing to ‘perfection’ or completion (Heb 7:11, 19). The passive voice, no place would have been sought, (may be paraphrased as ‘God would not have sought an occasion [to establish a second]’. The author uses a second class conditional sentence i.e., a condition contrary to fact; also Heb 4:8, in order to drive home the point that the first covenant was defective) implies that God faulted the old covenant and sought a new one. This is supported by the following quotation, which speaks entirely of God’s initiative. Because a new unfolding of his redemptive purpose had taken place, it called for a new covenant action on God’s part. (The author’s reasoning here parallels his argument about the ineffectiveness of the Levitical priesthood in Heb 7:11–19.) (The Letter to the Hebrews: The Pillar New Testament Commentary)

That first - That first covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the Old Covenant, the covenant of Law.

Faultless (273) (amemptos from a = negative + mémphomai = find fault) means irreproachable, faultless, without defect or blemish, not being able to find fault in someone or some thing. The idea is that the Old Covenant was not flawless.

What was the fault? Although the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good (see note Romans 7:12), the law could never save a person, but could only lead him or her to see their need for salvation. To seek to obey the law in an attempt to merit salvation is to arouse the flesh and put one's self in a yoke of bondage to the Law. As sinners, we are unable to keep God’s holy Law. The Old Covenant did not supply the new heart or the enabling ministry of the Spirit without which we cannot obey the Law. The old covenant failed to bind Israel to their God, but as he explains in the next verse, the ultimate cause of this failure lay in the character of the people, not in character of the covenant.

Writing to the believers in Galatia who were being tempted by the Judaizers to come under the yoke of the law (the Old Covenant), Paul reasoned rhetorically...

Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. (Galatians 3:21) (See related notes on the Purpose/Effect of the Law)

See related studies on Covenant...

Covenant: New Covenant in the Old Testament

Covenant: Why the New is Better

Covenant: Abrahamic vs Old vs New

Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, He says, "BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: memphomenos (PMPMSN) gar autous legei, (3SPAI) Idou (AAM) hemerai erchontai, (3PPMI) legei (3SPAI) kurios, kai sunteleso (1SFAI) epi ton oikon Israel kai epi ton oikon Iouda diatheken kainen,

Amplified: However, He finds fault with them [showing its inadequacy] when He says, Behold, the days will come, says the Lord, when I will make and ratify a new covenant or agreement with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: But God himself found fault with the old one when he said: "The day will come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Wuest: For, finding fault with them He says, Behold, days come, says the Lord, and I will consummate with the house of Israel and the house of Judah a testament new in quality (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: For finding fault, He saith to them, `Lo, days come, saith the Lord, and I will complete with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, a new covenant,

FOR FINDING FAULT WITH THEM HE SAYS: memphomenos (PMPMSN) gar autous legei (3SPAI):

For (gar) is a term of explanation- What is the writer explaining? He is explaining why the priesthood of Jesus is superior to the priesthood associated with the Old Covenant.

Finding fault (3201) (memphomai from momphe = blame, reproach, complaint) means to blame, find fault with, accuse, impute as blameworthy. The present tense indicates God was continually finding fault with His chosen people, who repeatedly rebelled against Him like an unfaithful wife (see verse 32 in the Jeremiah 31 passage below). The problem with the Old Covenant was not bad laws, but bad hearts!

With them - Notice the writer's shift of language from the covenant to the people. After saying the Old Covenant was not faultless, he comes to the essence of the problem and finds fault with the people. The primary problem was not the Old Covenant per se, but the failure of the Jews to keep the Old Covenant...

for they did not continue (persevere in, hold fast to, remain true to, or abide) in (God's old) covenant (see note Hebrews 8:9).

Lane - The treatment of the two covenants in vv 7–8a exhibits the eschatological outlook of the writer. At the level of historical events, the covenant mediated by Moses had developed faults on the human side and has been replaced by a better arrangement. The super session of the old covenant was not due simply to the unfaithfulness of the people to the stipulations of the covenant. It occurred because a new unfolding of God’s redemptive purpose had taken place, which called for new covenant action on the part of God. That God took the initiative in announcing his intention to establish a new covenant with Israel (v 8a) indicates that he fully intended the first covenant to be provisional (cf. R. A. Harrisville, The Concept of Newness in the New Testament [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1960] 48–53). Thus God finds fault (memphomenos) with the Mosaic covenant, and not simply with the people (see above, Note s).

He says - God (present tense - continually) spoke prophetically through Jeremiah of a new covenant based on grace which would replace the first covenant based on law. The writer quotes God's declaration in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (note that the quotation is not from the Hebrew text but from the Greek Septuagint - LXX) which reads...

31 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (Old Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, "the law"), My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them (Israel is the wife of Jehovah - cp Isa 54:4 addressed to Israel - "your husband is your Maker")," declares the LORD.

33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,"

(The following are not quoted here but are vitally important passages for evangelicals to understand) 35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

36 "If this fixed order (sun, moon, stars) departs from before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever." (Classic "if...then" passage)

37 Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the LORD. (God's point is that He has not cast Israel aside, even today when most of the Jews in Israel are not "religious". He is not finished with Israel as so many teach today, but these promises will be completely and literally fulfilled at the Second Coming of the Messiah. Notice that the following passages for example are part of God's covenant promise -- albeit not mentioned in the NT -- and they will be fulfilled.)

38 "Behold, days are coming (this time phrase is identical to verse 31 - this is the same covenant!)," declares the LORD, "when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.

39 "And the measuring line shall go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah.

40 "And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, or overthrown anymore forever."

The writer considers this passage so important for his readers to grasp that he reiterates the covenant promises in part in Hebrews 10:16; 17...

THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND UPON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," He then says, 17 "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (see notes Hebrews 10:16; 17)

Notice the writer's logic (compare similar line of reasoning in Heb 4:8-note, He 7:11-note, Heb 8:4-note) -- The writer declares that if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, there would have been no need for another covenant. But in fact as already suggested the first covenant was not faultless because the Jews could not keep their promises to fulfill it as they vowed in Exodus 24...

Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances (The Old Covenant, the First Covenant); and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!" (Exodus 24:3)

The first covenant lacked the power to energize their obedience because it was on tablets of stone, not on the tablets of their heart and mind as in the New Covenant. Although not stated in this section, another critical promise of the New Covenant was a new "Person" Who would provide a new power to fulfill the requirements of the Law, God prophesying in Ezekiel...

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26,27-note)

In short, the old covenant was faulty because it did not provide enabling power for the people to live up to the terms or conditions of the Law. In other words, the old covenant did not include a provision for their inherent faultiness.

BEHOLD DAYS ARE COMING SAYS THE LORD: Idou hemerai erchontai legei kurios: (Jeremiah 31:31-34) (Heb 10:16,17; Jeremiah 23:5,7; 30:3; 31:27,31-34, 38; Luke 17:22)

Behold - An interjection in the form of a command (aorist imperative) which is an urgent call for the hearer or reader to pay attention to what follows. This is important!

As New Testament believers it is vitally important that we remember to whom God was (initially) addressing the covenant with its promises in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The recipients of Jeremiah's New Covenant prophecy were clearly Jews. This fact is important to keep in mind because there is a widespread tendency in the modern evangelical world to do away with God's promises to Israel (aka "replacement theology" cf What is replacement theology - supersessionism), and to say that the NT church has replaced Israel, as the "Israel of God" (phrase used in Gal 6:16 - interestingly every other NT use of "Israel" refers to [you guessed it!] ISRAEL! See discussion of - Israel of God). This is not what Scripture teaches as Paul tries to explain in Romans 11, lest the wild olive branches (the Gentiles who are grafted into the rich root of the Abrahamic Covenant) become arrogant or conceited (see Ro 11:18-note; Ro 11:20-note).

The writer's logic is "brilliant" (because it is inspired). He appeals to one of their own prophets which means the Jewish readers would have to reject the veracity and assurance of the Old Testament, if they refused to accept the New Testament teaching on the New Covenant which is found in the Old Covenant! To reject the New Covenant, would be tantamount to rejecting their own prophet Jeremiah. Thus the writer builds his argument upon the Old Testament Scriptures, the very Word of God his readers professed to believe. This is a good example for all who would preach or teach the Word of God - base your "arguments" on the firm foundation of God's Word, including the Old Testament. There is a distinct bias I fear in modern evangelicalism to "shy away from" preaching on the Old Testament. Those pastors who shy away from teaching the Old, would be wise to remember that this was the only "Bible" the apostles and early disciples (most common term for believers in Acts) had access to. Many who applaud the oratorical, expositional skills of the prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, would be wise (and blessed) to emulate his example of frequent forays into the Old Testament Scriptures (for example, witness his 57 messages on the seldom taught book of Ezekiel!)

Days are coming - What days? When? I agree with others who favor a "dual" fulfillment, theologically speaking a soteriological and an eschatological fulfillment. The first fulfillment is related to the application of the truth in Jeremiah 31. Although the covenant was initially given to Israel, it is clearly applicable to Gentiles who enter it by grace through faith. In other words, in terms of applying the truth of the Jeremiah passage, whenever anyone is saved, Jew or Gentile, the day has come that the New Covenant has become a reality in that person's life. On the other hand, if one views this passage to Israel through "prophetic glasses", it will be most completely fulfilled at the time of the Lord's return, when "all Israel will be saved".

Says the Lord - As noted elsewhere but worth reiterating, this passage teaches that it was God Himself Who initiated the covenant, not man. As far as we know, Israel never asked God how it was that He would be able to fulfill the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant (which is ultimately made possible by the payment of Christ's sacrificial blood in the New Covenant, which paid the price of redemption, the very truth we celebrate when we partake of communion) to themselves who were sinners and who needed a Redeemer. But God saw their need and He provided for their need by initiating ("says the Lord") the New Covenant, which Jesus referred to as the "New Covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20) which alludes to the need for redemption by a satisfactory Goel or Kinsman Redeemer.

In Romans, Paul explains (like the writer of Hebrews, appealing to the the Old Testament Scriptures to validate his argument)...

thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "The Deliverer (the Messiah) will come from Zion. He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins." (see notes Romans 11:26; 11:27).

Spurgeon writes that...

His divine decree has made the covenant of his grace a settled and eternal institution: redemption by blood proves that the covenant cannot be altered, for it ratifies and establishes it beyond all recall. This, too, is reason for the loudest praise. Redemption is a fit theme for the heartiest music, and when it is seen to be connected with gracious engagements from which the Lord's truth cannot swerve, it becomes a subject fitted to arouse the soul to an ecstasy of gratitude. Redemption and the covenant are enough to make the tongue of the dumb sing.

In Revelation 19 we see the Deliverer returning at the end of the Great Tribulation (see notes beginning with Revelation 19:11 and read through the subsequent verse notes) and the beginning of the 1000 year reign of Messiah, the Millennium or Messianic Age (see also notes beginning with Revelation 20:4). It is at this future time that Zechariah's prophecy will "dovetail" with Jeremiah's prophecy, God predicting that...

"And it will come about in all the land," Declares Jehovah, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name (cp, the New Covenant promise "they shall all know Me"), and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" (cp, God's promise in Jeremiah's prophecy in Jer 31:33 - "I will be their God, and they shall be My people.") (Zechariah 13:8,9)

The third part that Jehovah brings through the fire will be those who by grace through faith receive the Messiah as their Deliverer and their Redeemer, and all of this one third will be saved. (If you are interested in this somewhat complex, sometimes controversial subject of "What Happens to the Jews?" read the notes on Romans 11:26; 11:27) (My friend in Christ, Tony Garland, also has a lucid, logical discussion of these passages you can listen to on Mp3 - click here for Mp3, click Pdf of his summary notes in Pdf or Html Document) (Or listen to his 14+ hour Mp3 series on Israel)

WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND THE HOUSE OF JUDAH: kai sunteleso (1SFAI) epi ton oikon Israel kai epi ton oikon Iouda diatheken kainen: (Hebrews 9:15; 12:24; Mt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25; 2Cor 3:6) (Is 55:3; Jer 32:40; 33:24, 25, 26; Ezekiel 16:60,61; 37:26)

Spurgeon - The tenor of the covenant of grace is, “I will,” and “they shall”; there are no ifs or buts in it. It is made up of absolute promises upon God’s part, and cannot be put in jeopardy by the acts of man; hence it is sure. The old covenant had an “if” in it, and so it suffered shipwreck. It was, “If you will be obedient then you shall be blessed,” and hence there came a failure on man’s part, and the whole covenant ended in disaster. It was the covenant of works, and under it we were in bondage until we were delivered from it and introduced to the covenant of grace, which has no “if” in it, but runs upon the strain of promise. It is “I will” and “You shall” all the way through. No longer the law graven upon the tables of stone, but the law written on the heart; no more the Lord’s command without man’s power and will to obey it, but God will renew our nature, and change our disposition, so that we shall love to do what once we loathed, and shall loathe the sins that we once loved. What a wonderful mass of mercies is included in the covenant of grace! Under the first covenant we are ruined; there is no salvation for us but under this new covenant. For this reason, let us read to our joy and comfort what the promises and provisions of that new covenant are.

When I will effect - As discussed elsewhere in these notes, the New Covenant was made with Israel but clearly is applicable to Gentiles. But the benefits of the New Covenant are like a health insurance policy we own but in ignorance still end up paying for medications, etc, simply because we did not understand our benefits or were "too lazy" to check the policy. How many believers really understand the benefits that are granted to them in Christ Jesus by virtue of being in (new) covenant with Him? Are you plagued by guilt for past sins you have confessed? No problem because in the New Covenant God says your sins I will remember no more (See Heb 8:12 notes on this truth). If the Holy God chooses to not remember them, why are experiencing a sense of guilt (see notes if you are confused by the phrase "forgive yourself")? Perhaps, we don't completely comprehend the benefits of the New Covenant. Or take many believers who are running the race of grace well and then begin to be put under rules or laws or "do's and don'ts" instead of remembering that God has clearly stated that He would place the law on our heart and mind. So instead of living a life of freedom, they bring themselves under a yoke of bondage to legalism in its various forms (listen to Ray Stedman's very helpful summary of Legalism or read the transcript)

I will (Heb 8:8, 8:10, 8:12) - God initiates the covenant. Israel did not seek it. God's grace is initiating grace. Yes, God had found the people at fault and they deserved nothing but condemnation and yet He promised them a new covenant. How great is the Father's love!

Spurgeon - Now, rolling up that old covenant as a useless thing out of which no salvation can ever develop, God comes to us in another way and says, “I will make a new covenant with you, not like the old one at all.” (Hebrews 8:8-13.) It is a covenant of grace, a covenant made, not with the worthy, but with the unworthy; a covenant not made upon conditions, but unconditionally, every supposed condition having been fulfilled by our great Representative and Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ; a covenant without an if or a but in it; “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure” (2 Samuel 23:5); a covenant of shalls and wills, in which God says, “I will, and you shall”; a covenant suited to our broken-down, helpless condition; a covenant that will land everyone who has an interest in it in heaven. No other covenant will ever do this.

Will effect (4931) (sunteleo from sun = with + telos = goal) means to end together or at the same time. To end completely; to bring to an end, finish, complete. In speaking of an activity it means to bring to an end and so to complete or finish the activity. Sunteleo means to carry out or bring into being something that has been promised or expected and thus to carry it out, fulfill it or accomplish it.

The writer seems to have chosen sunteleo rather than poieo “to make,” in order to emphasize more clearly the conclusive perfecting power of the New Testament.

WHAT IS NEW ABOUT
THE NEW COVENANT?

A new covenant - It is new in that it is fresh and it contains the "freshness of the redemptive promises". Even the other great unconditional covenants in the Old Testament, the Abrahamic and the Davidic, did not in themselves explicitly elaborate on the redemptive promises implicit in the New Covenant, promises which form the basis for the fulfillment of the other unconditional covenants. In other words, the Abrahamic covenant needed the completion of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ to make it possible for this Old Testament covenant to have the certainty and assurance of its ultimate fulfillment. It pointed to the Seed, Christ, but it did not explain the redemptive aspect of Christ as did the New Covenant (cf, the better promise of the New Covenant "I will remember their sins no more" which equates with forgiveness.) There had to be the death and spillage of blood of a suitable sacrifice to bring about redemption. This is what Jesus was referring to when He stated that this is the blood of the (New) Covenant which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. Without His payment of the price of His precious blood (i.e., redemption - payment of price to buy slaves out of bondage, etc), forgiveness would not have been possible and the Abrahamic Covenant would not have had a foundation for its fulfillment.

In the New Covenant God explains its better promises which are centered in the forgiveness of sins and the divine enablement (God's laws are now within = when we by grace through faith enter the New Covenant, God's Spirit gives us a "new inner control center"). When one studies the promises of the Abrahamic covenant (and the Davidic), one concludes that what God says in Jeremiah 31 about the New Covenant is essentially a "repetition" (Dr S Lewis Johnson's term) or an "extension" of these other unconditional covenants. And so this new or fresh covenant repeats or extends the Abrahamic (and Davidic) but adds the redemptive grounds for the Abrahamic (and Davidic) covenant.

WITH WHOM IS
THE NEW COVENANT MADE?

With the house of Israel and the house of Judah - Note carefully that because two divisions of the kingdom are distinguished, this is clearly a literal promise, and should silence the false teaching that the church has replaced Israel. In other words, it would be ridiculous to teach that the church was "the house of Israel and the house of Judah". To repeat, the New Covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not with the Church. Why would the writer of Hebrews emphasize the two houses? Remember that the letter is addressed to Hebrew professing believers and he is seeking to deliver them from the danger that they would depart from the faith that they had professed. What better way to jolt them back to reality, then to remind the Hebrew professing believers of the great covenant that was given to Jeremiah to the Jewish people.

This distinction is vitally important because most of us are of neither Jewish house. The question arises then "How did we Gentiles "get in" if this New Covenant was not given to us?" How do we qualify? As explained elsewhere in these notes, the New Covenant is essentially a repetition or extension of the Abrahamic promises, then we can understand how Gentile believers might be the recipients of those promises. Stated another way, one can understand the New Covenant as the grounds of fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. And if you look at the Abrahamic covenant, you will note that even in this covenant, provision was made for Gentile believers...

And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)

All the families would include Jews and Gentiles and so provision was made for Gentiles even in the Abrahamic Covenant. The New Covenant provides for and explains the redemptive grounds for the Abrahamic Covenant (which is an "everlasting covenant", e.g., see Genesis 17:7,8, cp the unconditional Davidic covenant which is also "an everlasting covenant" - see 2Sa 23:5). And so we see that these unconditional covenants while distinct are not wholly separate covenants but are related as part of God's so-called "covenantal program" (the everlasting Davidic covenant is also part of this "program"). And in this covenantal program, the gracious God has made provision for both Jews and Gentiles to enter into the covenant promises. Without going into great detail at this time, it should be added that Paul further explains how Gentiles ("wild olive branches") are grafted in to the rich root of the natural olive tree, this rich root representing the Abrahamic covenant that promised blessing to both Jew and Gentile through the coming Redeemer, Jesus Christ. (See Romans 11:17 note, cp Galatians 3:7 "be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham" where Paul speaks of Abraham's spiritual descendants as those who believe in Christ for salvation.)

At risk of becoming too detailed, the Gentile believer who carefully reads these notes and studies the Abrahamic covenant, will conclude that although Gentile believers are spiritual descendants of Abraham, we do not inherit the specific promises of the Land (Ge 15:18ff) that God made to Abraham that were passed on to Abraham's son Isaac and then to Isaac's son Jacob (God later changed his name to Israel), and in turn passed through Jacob (Israel - eg, see read Ge 35:9, 10, 11, 12 esp the phrase "to your descendants after you" - Gentiles are not the descendants of Jacob) to the physical Israelites who would come to believe in their Jewish Messiah (see related topic - believing Jewish remnant).

The promises of the Land of Israel will be fulfilled to those believing physical/biological Jews at the return of Messiah to set up His 1000 year kingdom (see Millennium). Stated another way, believing Gentiles do not inherit the promises made to physical/biological Jews who become believers, as is often taught by those who hold to Amillennialism (What is Amillennialism?) and believe the phrase the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) refers to the church (see discussion of the phrase Israel of God). Believing Gentiles do not become Jews and the believing church does not become Israel. When Messiah returns at the end of the Great Tribulation to defeat the antichrist and the world forces arrayed against Him (and against the nation of Israel), He will establish His kingdom and bring about the final fulfillment of the covenant promises of "the Land" (of Israel - first promised in Genesis 15:18ff).

Covenant (1242) (diatheke from dia = two + tithemi = to place pictures that which is placed between two Thus, a covenant is something placed between two, an arrangement between two parties.) was a commonly used in the Greco-Roman world to define a legal transaction in settling an inheritance.

Diatheke denotes an irrevocable decision, which cannot be cancelled by anyone. A prerequisite of its effectiveness before the law is the death of the disposer and thus diatheke was like a "final will and testament". In reference to the divine covenants, such as the Abrahamic covenant, diatheke is not a covenant in the sense that God came to agreement or compromise with fallen man as if signing a contract. Rather, it involves declaration of God’s unconditional promise to make Abraham and his seed the recipients of certain blessings.

Ray Stedman warns that "Though the writer of Hebrews undoubtedly applies this new covenant to the church, those commentators who deny its future application to the nation of Israel ignore great areas of Old and New Testament prophecy. (Hebrews 8:1-13 The New Covenant)

Hebrews 8:9 NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ou kata ten diatheken en epoiesa (1SAAI) tois patrasin auton en emera epilabomenou (AMPMSG) mou tes cheiros auton exagagein (AAN) autous ek ges Aiguptou, oti autoi ouk enemeinan (3PAAI) en te diatheke mou, kago emelesa (1SAAI) auton, legei (3SPAI) kurios.

Amplified: It will not be like the covenant that I made with their forefathers on the day when I grasped them by the hand to help and relieve them and to lead them out from the land of Egypt, for they did not abide in My agreement with them, and so I withdrew My favor and disregarded them, says the Lord. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Wuest: not according to the testament which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, because they themselves did not continue true to my testament, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day of My taking them by their hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt--because they did not remain in My covenant, and I did not regard them, saith the Lord, --

NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: ou kata ten diatheken, en epoiesa (1SAAI) tois patrasin auton en hemera epilabomenou (AMPMSG) mou tes cheiros auton exagagein (AAN) autous ek ges Aiguptou: (Hebrews 9:18, 19, 20; Exodus 24:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 34:10,27,28; Deuteronomy 5:2,3; 29:1,12; Galatians 3:15, 16, 17, 18, 19; Galatians 4:24) (Genesis 19:16; Job 8:20; Song of Solomon 8:5; Isaiah 41:13; 51:18; Mark 8:23; Acts 9:8; 13:11) (Exodus 19:4,5; Psalms 77:20; 78:52, 53, 54; 105:43; 136:11, 12, 13, 14; Isaiah 40:11; 63:9; Isaiah 63:11, 12, 13)

Not like the covenant - This is a clear reference to the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. This New Covenant is different and distinct. It is a "fresh" covenant with a new quality compared to the Old Covenant.

Spurgeon - God not only gave a law that ought to have been kept, because of its own intrinsic excellence, but He also gave it in a very wonderful way, which ought to have ensured its observance by the people. The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai in fire, and the mountain was all wrapped in smoke, and “its smoke went up like the smoke of a smelting furnace, and the whole mountain trembled greatly” (Exod 19:18). And the sight that was then seen on Sinai, and the sounds that were there heard, and all the pomp and awful grandeur were so terrible that even Moses—that boldest, calmest, quietest of men—said, “I am terrified and trembling” (Heb 12:21). The children of Israel, as they heard that law proclaimed, were so amazed and overwhelmed with God’s display of His majesty and might that they were ready enough to promise to keep His commandments. The law of God could not have been made known to mankind in grander or more sublime style than was displayed in the giving of that covenant on Mount Sinai.

Cole writes that "The emphasis here is on discontinuity, not on continuity. God says, “Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers….” This is a major problem, in my estimation, for Covenant Theology, which views the old and new covenants as two different administrations of the same covenant of grace. The emphasis in that view is on the unity and continuity of the covenant throughout history (The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. by Walter Elwell [Baker], p. 280), whereas the emphasis here is clearly on discontinuity. (A Better Priest for a Better Covenant - Pdf) (In another sermon Cole argues that) since the Bible never uses the title, “covenant of grace,” and since there is obviously a great distinction between the old and new covenants (Heb 8:7, 8, 9), I am not inclined to that system. On the other hand, dispensational theologians point out that the new covenant is to be made “with the house of Israel and … Judah” (Heb 8:8), and so many of them insist that the new covenant that Jesus inaugurated at the Last Supper was different than this New Covenant. But, plainly, the church today partakes of the one new covenant that Jeremiah predicted (Ed: And I agree!). The author of Hebrews (and Paul in 2Cor 3:1ff) obviously views the New Covenant of Jeremiah as in effect now. (The Better Covenant)

The table below is based on Pastor Cole's sermon The Better Covenant - Pdf in which he discusses 12 distinctions between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, basing his discussion in turn on John Owen's original discussion of 17 distinctions.

DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN
THE OLD COVENANT &
THE NEW COVENANT
OLD COVENANT NEW COVENANT
Does not offer Justification by faith
Brings condemnation
Gal 3:10, 11, 12, Hebrews 7:19
Offers Justification by faith
Brings "Acquittal"
Does not impart spiritual life
Galatians 3:21
Offers spiritual life
2 Corinthians 3:6
Given to define our sinfulness
To drive us to faith in Christ
Galatians 3:19-24, Romans 5:20
God "forgets" our sins
Hebrews 8:12
Led to Bondage
Galatians 4:21-31, Acts 15:10
Offers Freedom
Galatians 5:1, 1John 5:3
Law was external
Offers no power to meet demands
Dt 29:4,
Law is internal
Provides power to obey
Ezek. 36:26, 27, Romans 8:3, 4
Conditional Covenant
Severe penalties for disobedience
Failure because fault in hearers
Deut 28:15-68, Hebrews 8:8
Unconditional Covenant
God Initiates
Success depends on God's I will's
Heb 8:10, 11, 12
Covered over Sin
No full, complete forgiveness
Hebrews 9:9, 10:1, 2, 3, 4
Removes Sin
Offers full, complete forgiveness
Hebrews 9:14, 10:10, 14
Based on inferior priesthood
Hebrews 7:11
Based on superior priesthood of Jesus
Hebrews 7:24-8:6
Only some know God
(believers thru Abrahamic Covenant)
All shall know God
Hebrews 8:10b, 1Cor 12:13
Worshippers kept at a Distance
Exodus 19:12, 13, 21, 22, 24
Worshippers Invited to Draw Near
Hebrews 4:16, 7:19, 10:22
Temporary
Gal. 3:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25;
Heb 8:13, 9:9, 10
Everlasting
Hebrews 9:12, 13:20

Covenant (1242) (diatheke from dia = two + tithemi = to place pictures that which is placed between two Thus, a covenant is something placed between two, an arrangement between two parties.) was a commonly used in the Greco-Roman world to define a legal transaction in settling an inheritance. Diatheke denotes an irrevocable decision, which cannot be cancelled by anyone.

Delitzsch quotes from Schelling "The Law appears to be the mere ideal of a religious constitution, as it has never existed in fact: in practice, the Jews were almost throughout polytheists. The substance of their national feeling was formed by heathendom: the accidents only, by revelation. From the queen of heaven down to the abominations of the Phoenicians, and even Cybele, the Jews passed through every grade of paganism.

Delitzsch adds - In fact, there is no period of the history of Israel before the captivity, in which more or less idolatry was not united with the worship of Jehovah, except the time of David and the first years of Solomon, during which the influence of Samuel still continued to be felt.

FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD: hoti autoi ouk enemeinan (3PAAI) en te diatheke mou, kago emelesa (1SAAI) auton, legei (3SPAI) kurios: (Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 29:25; 31:16, 17, 18; Joshua 23:15,16; 2Kings 17:15, 16, 17, 18; Psalms 78:10; Psalms 78:11, 57; Isaiah 24:5,6; Jeremiah 11:7,8; 22:8,9; 31:32; Ezekiel 16:8,59; Ezekiel 20:37,38) (Judges 10:13,14; Lam 4:16; Amos 5:22; Malachi 2:13)

For (hoti) is a term of explanation- What is the writer explaining? He is explaining why the priesthood of Jesus is superior to the priesthood associated with the Old Covenant.

Spurgeon - After the giving of the law, did not God affix to it those terrible penalties that should have prevented men from disobeying His commands? “Cursed be the one who does not keep the words of this law, to observe them” (Deut 27:26). “The person, the one sinning, will die” (Ezek 18:20). It was the capital sentence that was to be pronounced upon the disobedient; there could be no heavier punishment than that. God had, as it were, drawn His sword against sin; and if man had been a reasonable being, he ought at once to have started back from committing an act that he might be sure would make God his foe. Moreover, the blessings that were appended to the keeping of the law ought to have induced men to keep it; look again at those words I quoted just now: “And you shall observe my statutes and my regulations by which the person doing them shall live; I am Yahweh” (Lev 18:5). This did not mean that the man who kept God’s law should merely exist; there are some in these degenerate days who seek to make out life to be existence, and death to be annihilation, but there is little likeness between the words, or between what those words mean. “He shall live in them,” said the Lord concerning the man who kept His law; and there is a fullness of blessedness couched in that word “live.” If men had kept the covenant of the Lord—if Adam, for instance, had kept it in the garden of Eden, the rose would have been without a thorn to tear his flesh, and the enjoyment of life would never have been marred by the bitterness of toil or grief. Notwithstanding all these solemn sanctions of the ancient covenant, men did not keep it. The promise, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28), never produced any doing that was worthy to be rewarded with life; and the threatening, “Do this, and you will die,” never kept any man back from daringly venturing into the wrong road that leads unto death. The fact is that the covenant of works, if it be looked upon as a way of safety, is a total failure.

They did not continue - The Greek word for not (ou) indicates absolute negation -- they absolutely did not continue in obedience to the Mosaic Covenant as they had promised at Mt Sinai, but continually went astray (e.g., the book of Judges describes 300+ years of cycling through periods of sin, discipline, repentance and deliverance.)

Continue (1696) (emmeno) means literally to remain in. In Acts 14:22 Paul visited the new disciples in Asia [Minor] - "encouraging them to continue in the faith". In striking contrast, the Israelites repeatedly broke covenant and when they did God annulled it making the covenant void.

I did not care for them (272) (ameleo from a = without + melo = to care for, to show concern, forethought or interest) means literally without care and thus showing no concern. To be careless. To be unconcerned about or to care nothing for something or someone.

Ameleo describes the opposite attitude or response to the parallel verb prosecho (used in Hebrews 2:1-note) which calls for one to be in a continuous state of readiness to learn of a danger, need, error, etc, and to respond appropriately.

Here the writer quotes form the Septuagint where ameleo is used to describe Jehovah's reaction to Israel's "neglect" of their promise to obey all of the laws of the Old Covenant. He explains that now the New Covenant is...

not according to the covenant (Mosaic) which I made with their fathers in the day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded (ameleo) them, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 31:32) (This is Brenton's English translation of the Septuagint and is the translated almost verbatim in Hebrews 8:9 - see below. The writer explains to his readers that Israel had been careless, neglectful and unconcerned about fulfilling their side of the covenant promises and as a result God in a sense repaid them by disregarding them.)

Below are the 4 uses of ameleo in NT:

Matthew 22:5 "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,

1 Timothy 4:14 Do not neglect (present imperative - stop doing this) the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

Hebrews 2:3 (note) how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,

Hebrews 8:9 (note) Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers On the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord.

THE DANGER OF NEGLECTING
GOD'S COVENANT

What is the problem if we neglect? Here are a few illustrative (and some very tragic) examples...

The devil and his cohorts were devising plans to get people to reject the Gospel. “Let’s go to them and say there is no God,” proposed one. Silence prevailed. Every devil knew that most people believe in a supreme being. “Let’s tell them there is no hell, no future punishment for the wicked.” offered another. That was turned down, because men obviously have consciences which tell them that sin must be punished. The concave was going to end in failure when there came a voice from the rear: “Tell them there is a God, there is a hell and that the Bible is the Word of God. But tell them there is plenty of time to decide the question. Let them ‘neglect’ the Gospel, until it is too late.” All hell erupted with ghoulish glee, for they knew that if a person procrastinated on Christ, they usually never accept Him. (10000 Sermon Illustrations. Dallas: Biblical Studies Press)

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An incident from the American Revolution illustrates what tragedy can result from neglect. Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops in Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn't bother to read it until the game was finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his neglect was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed and the rest of the regiment were capture. Nolbert Quayle said, "Only a few minutes' delay cost him his life, his honor, and the liberty of his soldiers." Earth's history is strewn with the wrecks of half-finished plans and unexecuted resolutions. 'Tomorrow' is the excuse of the lazy and refuge of the incompetent. (from Our Daily Bread)

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The Cost of Not Putting a Finger in the Dike - For most of the last decade, Chicagoans who worked in the Loop, the booming downtown business district, could easily ignore the city's budget crisis; Washington's cutback of aid to cities didn't seem to hurt business. Last week, they learned one price of neglecting the underpinnings of all that economic growth. A quarter billion gallons of murky Chicago River water gushed into a 60-mile network of turn-of-the-century freight tunnels under the Loop and brought nearly all businesses to a soggy halt. It turned out that a top city official had known about the leak, but, acting for a cash-strapped government, had delayed repairs costing only about $50,000. The final cost of the damage caused by this neglect was estimated to be more than $1 billion. (From U.S. News & World Report, April 27, 1992.)

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We often fail to consider the gradual, cumulative effect of sin in our lives. In Saint Louis in 1984, an unemployed cleaning woman noticed a few bees buzzing around the attic of her home. Since there were only a few, she made no effort to deal with them. Over the summer the bees continued to fly in and out the attic vent while the woman remained unconcerned, unaware of the growing city of bees. The whole attic became a hive, and the ceiling of the second- floor bedroom finally caved in under the weight of hundreds of pounds of honey and thousands of angry bees. While the woman escaped serious injury, she was unable to repair the damage of her accumulated neglect. (Robert T Wenz)

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A 64-year-old woman, whose decomposed body was found in her dilapidated Houston home recently, was discovered frozen to death for five months. She was forgotten (neglected) all winter and spring by neighbors and family members. Neighbors described her as someone who "didn't have anything to do with anybody, and nobody had anything to do with her." This occurred after her children had grown up and moved away, and then her husband's death. She had two children, one of whom lived about 10 miles from his mother's house.

EXCURSUS ON
THE PROPHETIC PROMISES OF
THE NEW COVENANT TO ISRAEL

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Below are OT Passages that describe or foreshadow the New Covenant God promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31. Note that time phrases are highlighted in bold green letters. Note also that this list of allusions to the New Covenant in the Old Testament is not intended to be exhaustive.

NEW COVENANT
IN DEUTERONOMY 30:3-6

Deuteronomy 30:3 "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you (the final fulfillment of the "curse" will come about during the three and one-half year period that Jesus declared would be "The Great Tribulation" = "The time of Jacob's Distress" Jeremiah 30:7, see also the chart on the seven year period that immediately precedes Messiah's return = Daniel's Seventieth Week -- see Great Tribulation, see Timeline of Jewish & Gentile History according to Daniel) and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you (the Jews today are dispersed throughout the whole world),

Deut 30:2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart (because they have a new heart from the New Covenant!) and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons

Deut 30:3 then (when Messiah returns) the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.

Deut 30:4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back (including those in the so-called 10 lost tribes that went into captivity in Assyria in 722BC).

Deut 30:5 And the LORD your God will bring you into the land ("The Land" which was promised forever {Ge 13:15} to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers (in May, 1948 the nation of Israel was miraculously reborn {witness this incredible story for yourself in the DVD Israel - A Nation Is Born} but this is only a partial fulfillment of the Deuteronomy 30:1-6 prophecy. The perfect fulfillment will occur in the 1000 year or Millennial Reign of the Messiah - see map of Israel in the Messianic age).

Deut 30:6 Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants (a reference to the New Covenant God revealed more clearly some 800 years late by Jeremiah in Jer 31:31ff. The fulfillment of this prophecy parallels Revelation 19:11ff [see notes]) when Messiah returns at the end of the 3.5 year "Great Tribulation" and brings His chosen people, those Jews who have received a "heart transplant" into their promised land, the land of Israel, to possess it in during the 1000 year Millennium thus bringing about the fulfillment of Jehovah's covenant promises to Abraham), to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. (chay = Hebrew for "To have life" = this has always been the Father's heart for Israel. See his desire and charge in Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

NEW COVENANT
IN ISAIAH

ISAIAH 32

Isaiah 32:15-20 Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high (the New Covenant, cf God giving them His Spirit in Ezekiel 36:26), and the wilderness becomes a fertile field and the fertile field is considered as a forest. 16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness will abide in the fertile field. 17 And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. 18 Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; 19 And it will hail when the forest comes down, and the city will be utterly laid low. 20 How blessed will you be, you who sow beside all waters, Who let out freely the ox and the donkey.

ISAIAH 43

Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am the one who wipes out (blots out so as to eliminate the record of) your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins." (These promises are fulfilled in the New Covenant - see Jeremiah 31:34 below)

ISAIAH 54

Isaiah 54:9 "For this is like the days of Noah to Me; when I swore that the waters of Noah Should not flood the earth again. So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, Nor will I rebuke you. (This oath is reflected in the terms of the New Covenant promised to Israel and Judah)

10 "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake (the unshakeable nature of God's oath in the New Covenant), but My lovingkindness (hesed is God's loyal, faithful love which is often used in the context of covenant) will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD Who has compassion on you.

11 "O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires.

12 "Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones.

13 "And all your sons will be taught of the LORD (this is one of the promises of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:34) ; and the well-being of your sons will be great.

14 "In righteousness you will be established. You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you." (This idyllic description is fulfilled for the nation of Israel during the 1000 year reign of Messiah, the Messianic Age, the Millennium)

ISAIAH 55

Isaiah 55:3 "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen (second time He told them to "listen" = this is important!), that you may live (in contrast to that described in Isaiah 55:2); and I will make (cut) an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David. (NET Bible renders this verse "Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to you, just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David" -- this "covenant" the New Covenant, although note that some feel it is a reference to the Davidic Covenant = 2Sa 7:16. The NET Bible rendering allows for this to be a reference to both of these covenants)

4 "Behold, I have made Him a Witness (in context this is the Messiah) to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.

5 "Behold, you (redeemed Israel composed of Jews who have entered the New Covenant by grace through faith) will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you."

ISAIAH 59

Isaiah 59:20 "And a Redeemer will come to Zion (Paul described this in Romans 11 - see notes Romans 11:25; 26; 27), and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD.

21 "And as for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."

ISAIAH 61

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me (MESSIAH), because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news (THE GOSPEL) to the afflicted. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners;

2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD (MESSIAH'S FIRST COMING), and the day of vengeance of our God (MESSIAH'S SECOND COMING); to comfort all who mourn,

3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

4 Then (after the return of the Messiah and during the Millennium, the 1000 year reign of Christ) they will rebuild the ancient ruins. They will raise up the former devastations, and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

5 And strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.

6 But you (BELIEVING ISRAEL) will be called the priests of the LORD. You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land. Everlasting joy (BENEFIT OF THE EVERLASTING NEW COVENANT) will be theirs.

8 For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; and I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant (New Covenant) with them.

9 Then their offspring will be known among the nations (GENTILES), and their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed.

NEW COVENANT
IN EZEKIEL

EZEKIEL 16

Ezekiel 16:60 "Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth (most probably a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant since it was everlasting and God's favor was bestowed without merit on those who entered it - His remembrance in the present context is clearly an act of undeserved lovingkindness), and I will establish an everlasting covenant (this is the New Covenant) with you. 61 "Then (in the Millennial Kingdom) you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both your older and your younger; and I will give them to you as daughters, but not because of your covenant. 62 Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD (the same promise of the New Covenant outlined by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31ff) 63 in order that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done (because of the New Covenant which as Jesus explained "is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness [Greek word aphesis means an action causing a separation = a secular legal term meaning to cancel a debt] of sins." Mt 26:28) " the Lord GOD declares.

EZEKIEL 18

Ezekiel 18:30 ""Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! (referring to the New Covenant) for why will you die, O house of Israel? (This is a clear invitation from Jehovah to sinful Judah to repent ["cast away"] and enter the New Covenant [by grace through faith] for it was the only means provided for sinful man to obtain a brand new spiritual heart. It was unnecessary for them to die in their sins [and then to die the second death in the Lake of fire] when they could turn from their transgressions and unto the New Covenant, as God had promised earlier in Ezekiel 11:19-20, and truly live, not just physically but spiritually). 32 "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live."

EZEKIEL 20

Ezekiel 20:33-40 foretells the future judgment of the Jews, who are still alive at the termination of the Great Tribulation, recording

"As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out (refers to the Great Tribulation, a time of purifying when 2/3's of Israel will not come through the fire), I shall be king over you. And I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered (predicts a worldwide regathering of Israel, a regathering we have been witnessing since the birth of the nation of Israel in May, 1948), with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I shall enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt (alluding to the judgment in which most of the Jews who came out of Egypt were not allowed to enter into the Promised Land of Canaan because of unbelief), so I will enter into judgment with you," declares the Lord GOD.

"And I shall make you pass under the rod (By means of the judgments during the Great Tribulation judgments, the rebellious Jews who refuse to believe in Messiah will be purged out, but 1/3 will be regenerated, the so-called faithful remnant), and I shall bring you (God Himself engineers this spiritual transaction, which speaks of His grace and mercy) into the bond of the covenant (an allusion to the New Covenant not the Old Covenant of Law - cf Jer 31:31-34) and I shall purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I shall bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel (part of the 2/3's who are purged. Walvoord states "This is to be interpreted as a judgment of physical death, and they will be raised from the dead at the judgment of the great white throne after the millennium to participate in the destiny of all the wicked."). Thus you will know that I am the LORD. (The Jews who are regenerated will turn away from seeking to establish their own righteousness and will seek the righteousness of God through Jesus the Messiah and that will bring about their national regeneration. It is going to be a new nation, a regenerate nation that will enter the Millennial Israel under King Messiah. Notice that the description given does not mention any resurrection from the dead and it may be assumed in view of the fact that regathering is a prerequisite to the judgment that this applies only to the living Israelites in the world at the time of the second coming.)

"As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD, "Go, serve everyone his idols; but later, you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols. For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel," declares the Lord GOD, "there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land; there I shall accept them, and there I shall seek your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things. (Ezekiel 20:33-40) (See related study The Millennium 2)

EZEKIEL 11

(Context: Final Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple after the Shekinah glory cloud has departed from the Temple - see Glory of God)

16 "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Though I had removed them far away among the nations, and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone."'

17 "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel."' (A promise yet to be fully fulfilled)

18 "When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it.

THE NEW COVENANT

19 "And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them (This they will be enabled to do because the Spirit indwells them - see Ezekiel 36:26,27). Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God (Speaks of communion with God)

21 "But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I shall bring their conduct down on their heads," declares the Lord GOD.

22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.

23 And the glory (Shekinah glory cloud) of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain which is east of the city (Mount of Olives, the very mount Jesus ascended from after resurrection and the one to which He will return).

24 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen left me.

25 Then I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me.

EZEKIEL 36

Ezekiel 36:22-note "Therefore, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.

23 "And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations (the Gentiles) will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.

24 "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. (At the end of the Great Tribulation just prior to the Millennium)

25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (illustration)

27 "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (The New Covenant)

28 "And you will live in the land (promised to Abraham in Genesis 15) that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.

29 "Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.

30 "And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, that you may not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.

31 "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.

32 "I am not doing this for your sake," declares the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!"

33 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt.

34 "And the desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passed by.

35 "And they will say, 'This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.'

36 "Then the (Gentile) nations that are left round about you will know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the LORD, have spoken and will do it."

37 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock.

38 "Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the LORD."'"

Illustration of a "New Heart" - On one occasion Dr, Christian Barnard, the 1st surgeon ever to do a heart transplant, impulsively asked one of his patients, Dr. Philip Blaiberg, “Would you like to see your old heart?” - At 8PM on a subsequent evening, the men stood in a room of the Groote Schuur Hospital, in Johannesburg, South Africa. – Dr. Barnard went up to a cupboard, took down a glass container and handed it to Dr. Blaiberg. Inside that container was Blaiberg’s old heart. For a moment he stood their in stunned silence – The first man in history ever to hold his own heart in his hands. Finally he spoke & for 10 minutes plied Dr. Barnard w/technical questions. Then he turned to take a final look at the contents of the glass container, and said, “So this is my old heart that caused me so much trouble.” He handed it back, turned away & left it forever! Believers still have the same heart…but it is radically new!

EZEKIEL 37

Ezekiel 37:21 - see notes "And say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations (THE GENTILES) where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land (FULFILLING THE PROMISE TO ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB); 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23 And they will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God (THE PROMISE OF THE NEW COVENANT). 24 And My servant David will be king over them (LITERALLY THIS READS "DAVID" AND THE MOST NATURAL INTERPRETATION IS DAVID IN HIS RESURRECTED BODY OF COURSE WILL RULE OVER ISRAEL IN THE MILLENNIUM AND MESSIAH WILL OF COURSE BE OVER HIM. SOME THINK THIS REFERS TO MESSIAH THE SON OF DAVID WHO WILL CLEARLY REIGN OVER ALL PEOPLES FROM JERUSALEM), and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them. 25 "And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant shall be their prince forever. 26 "And I will make (cut) a covenant of peace (this is God's New Covenant with Israel) with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 "My dwelling place also will be with them (THIS IS THE PROMISE OF THE NEW TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM DURING THE MILLENNIUM WHICH IS DESCRIBED BEGINNING IN Ezekiel 40:5 through Ezekiel 48) and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28 And the nations (GENTILES) will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies (SETS APART, MAKE HOLY) Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever."

NEW COVENANT
IN JEREMIAH

Jeremiah 24:7 'And I will give them a heart to know Me (NEW HEART IN THE NEW COVENANT), for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.

33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

36 "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever."

37 Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the LORD.

38 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.

39 "And the measuring line shall go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah.

40 "And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, or overthrown anymore forever."

Jeremiah 32:39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. 40 "And I will make (cut) an everlasting covenant (NEW COVENANT) with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

41 "And I will rejoice (translated "delight" in Dt 28:63 WHERE HE DELIGHTED TO DO THEM HARM BECAUSE OF THEIR DISOBEDIENCE) over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.

42 "For thus says the LORD, 'Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.

43 'And fields shall be bought in this land of which you say, "It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans."

44 'Men shall buy fields for money, sign and seal deeds, and call in witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes,' declares the LORD."

Jeremiah 50:4 "In those days and at that time," (AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF THE MESSIAH) declares the LORD, "the sons of Israel will come, both they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go, and it will be the LORD their God they will seek.

5 "They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant (NEW COVENANT) that will not be forgotten.

NEW COVENANT
IN HOSEA

Hosea 2:18 "In that day (what day? When Messiah returns in Revelation 19:11ff to fulfill all His promises to Israel) I will also make (cut) a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety.

19 "And I will betroth (engage for matrimony and in the Ancient East was equivalent to and as binding as the actual marriage vow) you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness (His loyal love reflecting His unswerving commitment - a covenant word) and in compassion (tender affection),

20 And I will betroth (Don't miss the repetition of betroth which speaks of the intensity of the Father's love for and desire to restore His "wife" Israel - in Jer 31:32 JEHOVAH DECLARED "I WAS A HUSBAND TO THEM") you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know (this word speaks of an intimate knowing even as a husband would be intimate with his wife) the LORD (this is the New Covenant God promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31).

21 "And it will come about in that day (TIME OF THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF MESSIAH -see Millennium) that I will respond," declares the LORD. I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,

22 And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.

23 "And I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' (here the New Covenant promises are prophetically spoken to the Jews for in their rebellion they were not God's holy people. In the New Testament Paul takes this same verse and applies it not to the unbelieving Jews but to the unsaved Gentiles in Romans 9:24-26 (See notes Ro 9:24; 25; 26) as does Peter in 1 Peter 2:10 (note), both quoting from Hosea 2:23) And they will say, 'Thou art my God!'" (Glory!!!)

NEW COVENANT
IN ZEPHANIAH

Zephaniah 3:9 "For then (when Messiah returns to defeat the kings and nations gathered against Him in Revelation 19) I will give to the peoples purified lips, (for as Jesus explained the lips reflect the heart condition declaring in Matthew 12:34 "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart") That all of them may call on the name of the LORD, To serve Him shoulder to shoulder. (Read the verses that follow Zephaniah 3:9 describing the Millennial reign of Messiah. Fascinating!)

NEW COVENANT
IN ZECHARIAH

Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, (in the New Covenant, compare God cleansing them from all their filthiness in Ezekiel 36:25 and giving them His Spirit in Ezekiel 36:26) so that they will look on Me (their Messiah) Whom they have pierced and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.

Zechariah 13:1 "In that day (what day? when Messiah returns at the end of the Great Tribulation) a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.

Zechariah 13:8-9 "And it will come about in all the land," Declares the LORD, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it (part of the spiritual "remnant" of national Israel). 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire , refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God. (This is one of the aspects of the New Covenant in Jer 31:33)"

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An understanding of the internal ("heart ") work promised to the Jews in the OT, helps one understand Jesus' charge to the hypocritically, "externally" clean Pharisees...

Matthew 23:26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it (without heart cleansing, the external is a lie, a spiritual "facade") may become clean also."

Jesus terminated the Old Covenant (Mark 7:19; Ro 10:4; 14:14; Heb. 8:6-9:22; et al.) and ratified the New Covenant (Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25).

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