"I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH. IT WILL NOT BE LIKE THE COVENANT I MADE WITH THEIR FOREFATHERS."
"These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul's kingdom over to him, as the LORD had said: men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do." (1Chron. 12:23, 32) It is especially important that we understand God's plan for Israel in these times.
"The LORD had said to Abram, "I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Gen. 12:1, 3) God blesses or curses all nations depending on how they bless or curse Israel. Why does God do this? For the sake of His holy name and so the nations would know He (and He alone) is the Lord. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes" (See Ezek. 36: 22-36).
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you." (Psalm 122:6) God promises spiritual prosperity and blessings for those who love and pray for His plans for Israel. True and permanent peace will only come to Jerusalem/Israel and the whole world when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, returns to establish His kingdom on earth (Rev. 21-22). "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility" (Eph. 2:14-16).
Now let's look at Hebrews 8 regarding the New Covenant: "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers" (See Heb. 8:6-13) "A covenant is an agreement; usually it is between two parties. In Hebrews 8 The Mosaic Covenant, a bilateral, conditional covenant (based on obedience to the Law) is compared to the New Covenant, an unconditional covenant of blessings guaranteed by God on oath regardless of obedience (Compare Deut 28 to Hebrews 8: 6-13.) In the case of the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to make a great nation of Abraham, and to bless his seed (ultimately leading to Jesus) greatly, and thus he and his offspring (through Jesus) would become a blessing to others (the whole world). This was an unconditional covenant, and in addition, it was a covenant that was confirmed by God's oath. Thus, it was an unchangeable covenant. In this sense, the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant consisted of promises. The New Covenant is a series of promises that God made to Israel and Judah (not the church) promises which are unchangeable and irreversible, since they are sealed by God's oath. These promises make the New Covenant vastly superior to the Old Covenant, so much so that the New Covenant replaces the Old, making it obsolete. These "better promises" (v.6) seen in vv. Heb. 8:10-12 are: 1) God will put His law in their minds and write them on their hearts: 2) a firm (secure) relationship with God; 3) the knowledge of God-all will know God (and no other gods/ religions), and 4) the forgiveness of sin once and for all. Now, when we come to the New Testament, we find that God's salvation in Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant, as the result of our Lord's work at Calvary. Put differently, it is by means of the New Covenant that God's promises to Abraham were fulfilled. This is exactly what the author of Hebrews tells us here in 8:6-13 as he quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34. So although the New Covenant is new in terms of its quality (Gr. kainos) it is not new in the sense of new news as it was promised by God to the Jewish nation in the Old Testament often to encourage them in times of great suffering for their disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant." (My summary of key points from Near to the Heart of God – A Study of the Book of Hebrews, by Robert L. Deffinbaugh}
"God is the author of this covenant. "The word for covenant is fascinating, (Gr. diatheke). The normal Greek word, any time you made an arrangement with anybody was syntithemi meaning with, on an equal basis. And normally, in any kind of an agreement, syntithemi would be the correct word. It was the word for a marriage covenant. It was the word for all ordinary contracts between two people on an equal level. Diatheke is not used for an agreement like that. Diatheke is reserved for making a will. You say, "Well, why does the Spirit choose diatheke when it says, 'The Lord will make a new covenant?'" The reason is that syntithemi is an agreement made by two equals. God at no time considers Himself an equal with men. God does not make equal covenants with men. God and man never enter agreements on equal terms. God doesn't come to us and say, "Look, here are my terms," and we say, "Here are my terms," and we all give a little and we get together. No. You can never, and I say it again, you can never, no time, no way, under any circumstances, bargain with God. It is not possible. You can never argue the terms of God's covenant. You can never say, "Well, look, God, listen, if you'll give a little bit on this thing, I'll adjust a little." You can't do that. God makes the covenant. You either accept it or you reject it. You don't change it. True? Now, the best illustration of this is a will. And that's why diathek is reserved for a will. A will is not made on equal terms. Right? No, not at all. It is made by one person, and the other person either accepts it or rejects it. You don't have anything to say about it. You can't bargain with a will. That's why the word is diatheke. Our relationship to God is based solely on God's terms, never on our terms. He is the author of the covenant." (John MacArthur)
"Was the Old Covenant a "bad covenant"? We know from Romans 7 that the problem is not entirely with the law, for it is "holy and righteous and good" (Romans 7:12). And so we find that the fault lies with sinful men on the one hand, and with a covenant that cannot overcome or permanently remove sin and its consequences on the other. Thus, the fault of the Old Covenant is to be found in the sinfulness of men and in the Old Covenant's inability to remove sin. What good, then, is the law? The law establishes God's standard of righteousness. The law (the Old, Mosaic, Covenant) shows me my sin, and my need for salvation apart from my efforts/ability to please God." (Deffinbaugh; See Rom. 3:19-20 and Gal. 3:15-29)
"If the New Covenant was made with Israel and Judah, then the question arises, "How, then, did the Gentiles come to enjoy these blessings?" It is apparent from our Lord's words in Luke 22:20 and the Apostle Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 11:25 and 2 Corinthians 3 that the church has entered into the blessings of the New Covenant. How, then, has this come about? How can Gentiles and the church enter into promises that were made to the people of Israel and Judah? We find important clues to the answer in the Book of Romans: From Romans 4:14-16 we learn that Gentiles who, like Abraham, trust in Christ are sons of Abraham. From Romans 9:6-8, we see that not all physical descendants of Abraham are true Israelites. Thus, even though the New Covenant was made with Israel and Judah, we can quite easily see how true believers could be included in the blessings of the New Covenant. Thus, even though the New Covenant was made with Israel and Judah, we can quite easily see how true believers could be included in the blessings of the New Covenant. Having said this, I believe that the main biblical text is found in Romans 11:11-32 with the following key verses: "Now if some of the branches were broken off, (Jews-Israel)) and you, a wild olive shoot (Gentiles), were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the olive root, do not boast over the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root (Israel) but the root supports you (Gentiles). Then you will say, "The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree (Gentiles), and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree(Israel), how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree? A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved." (Deffinbaugh)
"Did God cancel the Abrahamic covenant because Israel kept breaking the Mosaic covenant? Did God just say, 'That's it, no more blessing for Israel?'" He can't do that. If God could cancel one of His promises, He can cancel any one of them, which puts us on pretty precarious ground." John MacArthur}
"The New Covenant is God's appointed vehicle for fulfilling the Abrahamic blessings to Israel but it also promised universal blessings to all believers since the cross (the church).The church is a unique, interadvent body closely united to Christ as His Bride and significantly distinct from the nation of Israel. The physical and national aspects of the New Covenant which pertain to Israel have not been appropriated to the church but will be fulfilled in the Millennial kingdom." (The Bible Knowledge Commentary – Walvoord and Zuck)
"The Bible tells us that when Christ returns to earth He will establish Himself as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33). The unconditional covenants demand a literal, physical return of Christ to establish the kingdom. The Abrahamic covenant promised Israel a land, a posterity and ruler, and a spiritual blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). The Palestinian covenant promised Israel a restoration to the land and occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-10). The Davidic covenant promised Israel forgiveness-the means whereby the nation could be blessed (2 Samuel 7:10-17)." http://www.gotquestions.org/millennium.html}
In summary the New Covenant assumes man's sinfulness and the Law's inability to save lost sinners and draw them near to God. Second, the New Covenant reveals the heart of God. Many people tend to think of two Gods: the "angry and vindictive ‘God' of the Old Testament" and the "gracious and forgiving" ‘Jesus' of the New. But the truth is that God the Father and God the Son are One, and they delight to forgive sin and to draw men near in fellowship (see Psalm 103:1-8). Third, the New Covenant is the gospel, and it is truly good news. In a way, this statement is merely a repetition of the first two points (above). Fourth, those who turn back to the Old Covenant and strive to please God by law-keeping reject the New Covenant and thus the salvation by grace which God has provided through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In so doing, they reject God's only provision for salvation and choose to follow a covenant which can only condemn. Fifth, the New Covenant has greater glory than the Old, and it has the power to transform lives. Thus, it is the key to salvation. Let me put this in different words: The New Covenant is the key to evangelizing a lost world. We need to be very careful here that our evangelistic methods don't emphasize what people do. Raising one's hand, signing a card, walking the aisle, or repeating a prayer after someone (though not bad in and of themselves) are not what saves a person. What saves us is agreeing with God that we are lost sinners, and believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the only means by which we may be saved. "What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?" Jesus replied, "This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent" (John 6:28-29).Sixth, when we celebrate the Lord's Table each week, we are celebrating what God has done through Christ and His priestly ministry of the New Covenant. (Deffinbaugh)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1) What is the difference between the Mosaic covenant that God made with Israel and the New Covenant that God made with Israel and how do we (church age believers) benefit? Compare Deuteronomy 28 to Hebrews 8:6-13; also see Romans 11
2) How do the blessings promised to Israel in the Abrahamic covenant and New Covenant differ from the promises made to the church?
3) "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jer. 31:34 and Heb. 8:12) How do you feel when you have confessed a very grievous sin and really believe/know you are forgiven? Ask if anyone wants to share a particular time when they experienced this? (Psalm 32)
4) How does the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12, 15 and 22) relate to the New Covenant and Who and what guarantees and seals the New Covenant? Hebrews 8: 6-13; 9:14; Jeremiah 31:31-34