Eight times in the passage, Jer. 31:31-37, the text of the New Covenant is confirmed as the direct, explicit word of the Lord. Six times we are told that these words are trustworthy because so "declares the Lord." Twice we are admonished, "Thus says the Lord." God wants us to know that every word is important, and that every word will be fulfilled.

The text - God’s Words - makes it very clear that a new covenant is promised to the Jewish people. The text also makes it clear that nothing will prevent God from establishing this new covenant which He has promised to the Jewish people. The words themselves cannot be understood in any other way. God gave the promise of the New Covenant during some very dark days in the history of the Jewish people. Destruction, captivity, and exile had already overtaken those living in the northern kingdom of Israel. The same judgment had now come to those living in the southern kingdom of Judah.

The unfaithfulness of the people of Israel had brought judgment from the God of Israel. (ISRAEL’S SIN AND GOD’S FAITHFULNESS.) In their own land, they had chosen to follow the idolatrous ways of the Gentiles. So God had removed them from their land to go and live among the Gentiles. God had warned His people before they even entered the land that He would do that. (cf. Lev. 26, Dt. 28)

Through the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and through the exile among the Gentiles, God was bringing the ultimate judgment upon the Jewish people as a whole for breaking the Covenant of the Law. As Daniel prayed in exile:

"Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not

obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath

which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned

against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us

and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under

the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to

Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come

on us." (Dan. 9:11-13)

While that calamity, that ultimate judgment, was falling upon the whole house of Israel, God promised that He would yet establish a new covenant. This new covenant would bring the Jewish people into right relationship with their God. Since God makes it clear that He will fulfill this promise, its terms are very important.

To begin with, the New Covenant is made by God with "the house of Israel" and the "house of Judah." The promise is given in the midst of judgment on those "houses." It promises restoration. "‘For, behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their

forefathers, and they shall possess it.’" (Jer. 30:3)

God made a covenant "with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt." The people that God brought out of

Egypt are the "fathers" of those with whom God makes the New Covenant. They

are the children of Israel, the Jewish people.

The Lord told Jeremiah, "The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers." (Jer. 11:10) Nevertheless, God promises them a future restoration: "At that time they shall call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all the Gentiles will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor shall they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave to your fathers as an inheritance." (Jer. 3:17-18)

The New Covenant is a declaration of God’s faithfulness despite Israel’s

unfaithfulness. It brings restoration - restoration to the land and to the

Lord. It creates a holy people for a holy God. It is a covenant that is for

the benefit and well-being of individual Jews, but the covenant itself is not

made with individuals. It is a corporate covenant. It is made with the house

of Israel and the house of Judah.

Next: The New Covenant Part 2

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