|The New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of
, and with the house of
The Servant Songs were the first indication in the Bible that God was going to create a new covenant with
. Isaiah does not state that it is a new covenant, but the context shows it is. The first mention of this covenant is found in Isaiah 42:6:
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles
An examination of this verse shows that Gods Servant is the covenant. This is an extremely important concept. Gods Righteous Servant is the focus of this New Covenant. The reason for the covenant is not mentioned nor the means by which God will implement it.
At the time of the First Servant Song,
already had a covenant with God. This covenant, the law of Moses, had been in effect for 700 years. The prophet does not indicate why another covenant is needed, while the law was in effect. Isaiah 42:6 becomes the foundational verse that God is creating a new covenant.
The next verse concerning this New Covenant is found in the Second Song. This verse gives a little more information as it reveals that God is using the covenant worldwide. This extremely powerful covenant is not limited to
, but it touches the entire earth. This is a very important concept and needs emphasis: the covenant is not limited to
but reaches out to the Gentiles. This verse from the Second Servant Song follows:
Isaiah 49:8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages
A review of the verse still fails to disclose the need for the covenant and Gods implementation of it. There is no mention of how this New Covenant interacts with the law of Moses. There was no mention of the result other than it touches the entire earth.
The Fourth Song reveals the heart of the covenant. Gods purpose for the covenant is to deal with mans sin. This Servant Song discloses that the holy God of Israel is going to reconcile sinful mankind to Himself. It reveals how the LORD makes sinful man righteous before Him.
A review of the last Song reveals that the word covenant is not used. The subject of the Fourth Song is Gods Righteous Servant, the same Servant revealed in the previous Songs. A comparison of all the Songs as previously examined in this book show that Isaiah 53 is the New Covenant, first revealed by Isaiah.
The key verse that ties all the Songs together and shows the heart of the covenant is Isaiah 53:11. Let us look once again at this verse:
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
A review of the Fourth Song answers some of the questions about this New Covenant but not all. What it answers is the method of the establishment of the covenant. God establishes it by the death of His Righteous Servant for mans sin. The result is also very clear; this covenant justified sinful man. God had provided the way for man to be set free from the penalty for sin which is death (Genesis 2:17).
Although this Servant Song reveals awesome details about the covenant, it still fails to disclose why man needs it.
already had the law, which God gave as a covenant directly to Moses and the children of
. This was a blood covenant based on the Torah:
Exodus 24:6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. (7) And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
(8) And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
This covenant even dealt with the sin of the people. Through the Torah, God provided a way for the people to deal with the penalty of sin. He provided atonement for sin on the Day of Atonement.
The first phase of the atonement occurred when the high priest killed a goat and sprinkled its blood in the holy place of the temple. The second phase involved the high priest placing his hands on the head of a living goat and confessing all the sins, transgression, and iniquity of
. The combination of these two acts was the foundation for the atonement of
s sin. God provided that the goats died for the sin of the people. The goats paid the penalty for sin (Genesis 2:17). The verses to show this from Leviticus follow:
Leviticus 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: (22) And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities
Although God gave
the law, it was not sufficient to permanently deal with the problem of mans sin. The Prophet Jeremiah reveals the need for a new covenant and explains the difference between the law and the New Covenant.
Jeremiah specifically states that the New Covenant is different from the law. This is a new covenant and not a revision or renewal of the law. Under the New Covenant, God places the law in the peoples hearts. While this act causes God to forgive iniquity, more significant, is that the LORD no longer remembers sin! Thus, the people are righteous before the holy God of Israel and no longer need additional sin sacrifices. Jeremiahs New Covenant follows:
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: (32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: (33) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
The full understanding of the New Covenant is clearly understood by studying together the Fourth Servant Song and Jeremiah 31:31-34. Jeremiah explains why a new covenant is needed while the Fourth Song shows how it is established. Because of the Righteous Servants death for mans sin, there is no longer a need for sacrifices and God can place His law into the hearts of the people. The LORD then makes sinful man righteous before Him!
Because the law of Moses could not accomplish this, there is a need for a new covenant. The law atoned for sin until the death of Gods Righteous Servant, who would pay the penalty. The law was external in that is was based on action. The people were required to perform certain rituals under the law, but these actions did not touch the heart. When God established this covenant, there was no mention of it affecting mans heart. The people agreed to perform the requirements of the law:
Exodus 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
The New Covenant, however, changes the heart. God deals both with the heart of the person and the will. When a person comes under this covenant, great changes occur in that persons life. This person then begins to naturally live according to Gods righteousness from the inside out, and not simply try to conform to a code of life.
The internal effects of the New Testament include God placing His word into the persons heart, along with a true fear of God. To perform this change, God replaces the hard or stony heart of sin with a new heart, and then He places His Holy Spirit within this person. This is all outside the concept of the law. The verses to show the internal workings of the New Covenant follow:
Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeremiah 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
The New Testament shows the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant. Through faith in Jesus Christ, God places His Spirit in the heart of the believer and completely changes the person. The New Covenant is not mere obedience to rules; it is the holy God of Israel working in a persons heart. God alone produces true righteousness in a person:
2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The New Testament even quotes Jeremiah 31:33 as the foundation of the New Covenant. Two direct quotes from the Book of Hebrews apply the New Covenant directly to Jeremiah 31: 31-34:
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of
after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Hebrews 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; (17) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
The change to the New Covenant is evident when studying the future
. The Prophet Ezekiel states that King Messiah will build His sanctuary or temple, after the LORD makes a covenant of peace. The covenant of peace is the New Covenant:
Ezekiel 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
King Messiah then reigns with the covenant of peace and not the covenant of law of Moses. In Ezekiel 40-48, the prophet does not mention the law of Moses; instead, the prophet mentions the law of the house - the temple.
The law of the house/temple is the New Covenant. The covenant of peace, law of the house and the New Covenant are all the same. God told Ezekiel to write all he witnessed taking place in the Messiahs temple and write down what God defined as the law of the house/temple. The law of the house follows:
show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.
(12) This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.
The New Covenant/law of the house that the Messiah rules over is vastly different from the covenant of the law of Moses. A few examples reveal this glaring difference. The New Covenant superseding the law can only explain these differences.
The law required the placing or the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the temple. Gods glory hovered over the top of the
, which Moses referred to as the Mercy Seat. The law required an
in the temple. The New Covenant abolishes the
and the throne of the holy God of Israel replaces it. This shows a huge change as this covenant eliminates the
The New Covenant is not a minor modification of the law but a radical change. The Scriptures showing this change follow:
Law of Moses
Exodus 25:21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of
Law of the
Jeremiah 3:16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.
(17) At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
The law of Moses provided a ritual by which Gods temple could be cleansed in the midst of sinful people. This ritual included the killing of a goat and the high priest sprinkling the blood on Mercy Seat, which is the top of the
This act made atonement for the uncleanness of
. Without this act, the Day of Atonement was incomplete. If high priest failed to sprinkle the blood, the people then remained unclean before the holy God of Israel.
Under the law of the future temple, a bullock is used instead of a goat. A priest takes the blood of the bullock and places it on the outside of the temple. The priest does not enter the temple with blood for atonement. The New Covenant eliminates the
, so it is impossible for a priest to sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat! This again illustrates the vast difference between the law and the New Covenant.
The Fourth Servant Song teaches that Gods Righteous Servant paid the penalty for sin. Because He did, there is no longer a reason to sprinkle blood on the
for cleansing. The blood on the outside of the temple shows Gods Righteous Servant paid the penalty for sin. The verses to show this follow:
Law of Moses
Leviticus 16:15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
(16) And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of
, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
Law of the
Ezekiel 45:18 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the first month, in the first day of the month, thou shalt take a young bullock without blemish, and cleanse the sanctuary:
(19) And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering, and put it upon the posts of the house, and upon the four corners of the settle of the altar, and upon the posts of the gate of the inner court.
God gave Moses detailed instructions about building the altar and other items involved in the temple rituals. Concerning the altar, the law was clear that steps were not to be used in approaching it. The priest used a ramp to approach the altar. With the New Covenant, stairs or steps are used! This change once more shows the dramatic difference. The verses to show this follow:
Law of Moses
Exodus 20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
Law of the
Ezekiel 43:16 And the altar shall be twelve cubits long, twelve broad, square in the four squares thereof. (17)
and his stairs shall look toward the east.
These three examples are just a few of the vast changes with the New Covenant. (For a complete study of the changes see, the book Only Jesus of
Can Sit On The Throne of David). Remember it was the death of Gods Righteous Servant, as described in the Fourth Servant Song, which allows God to supersede the law of Moses with the New Covenant
Because the New Covenant deals with the heart, it is far superior to the law. The New Covenant justifies a person making him righteous before the holy God of Israel. This was totally outside the scope of the law of Moses:
Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he (Jesus) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
By John McTernan:
Proclaim the Faith
Blog: John McTernan's Insights at www.johnmcternan.name