Compare Hebrews 8:10-12 with Deuteronomy 6:4-6, Deuteronomy 30:11-14, and Jeremiah 31:31-34. What does this teach us about the nature of the new covenant?
The promise of a new covenant in Hebrews refers back to Jeremiah. According to Jeremiah, God’s promise of a new covenant was, in fact, a renewal of the covenant that He had first made with Israel through Moses (Jeremiah 31:31-34). It could be argued, then, that Jeremiah 31 was not strictly speaking of a “new” covenant but of a “renewal” of the original covenant with Israel. In fact, the Hebrew word for new, hadashah, can have both the sense of “renew” and “brand new.”
The issue with the old covenant was that the people broke it (Hebrews 8:8-9). The covenant was not faulty; the people were. If Israel had seen through the symbols to the coming Messiah and put their faith in Him, the covenant would not have been broken. Yet, to be fair, there were many believers throughout Israelite history in whom the purposes of the covenant were fulfilled and who had the law in their hearts (Psalm 37:31, Psalm 40:8, Psalm 119:11, Isaiah 51:7).
While the new covenant is a renewal of the old covenant, there is a sense in which it is, indeed, new. Jeremiah’s promise of a “new covenant” did not simply envision a renewal of the conditions that existed before the exile, which had been broken and renewed several times because the nation had lapsed several times into apostasy. And that’s because the people were simply unwilling to keep up their end of the covenant with God (Jeremiah 13:23).
Thus, God promised to do a “new thing” (Jeremiah 31:22). The covenant would not be like the covenant that God had made “with their fathers” (Jeremiah 31:32). Because of the unfaithfulness of the people, the promises that God made under the Mosaic covenant were never fulfilled. Now, in virtue of the guarantee given by the Son (Hebrews 7:22), God would fulfill the purposes of His covenant. God did not change His law or lower His standards; instead, He sent His Son as a guarantee of the covenant promises (Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 6:18-20). This is why this covenant does not have curses. It has only blessings because Jesus fulfilled it perfectly, becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).
|Read 2 Timothy 2:13. What can we learn from God’s faithfulness to His people and to His plans as we consider our relationships with others and our plans?|