Jeremiah 31 Is One Of The Most Significant Chapters In The Entire Old Testament.
However, we do not concur in the frequent scholarly attribution of the marvelous revelation herein to “the genius of Jeremiah,” nor to the “superiority of his theology.”
The first part of the chapter is a promise to the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) that, due to their repentance and reformation they shall again be restored to their land and to their former favor in the eyes of God.
These promises to Ephraim are recorded in Jeremiah 30:2-22; and the next large portion of the chapter applies the same marvelous prophecies of return, prosperity and favor to the Southern Kingdom.
Some scholars seem to become almost ecstatic, reveling in the unification of the two ancient Israels, and in the restoration of their status as “the virgin Israel” (Jeremiah 30:4 and Jeremiah 30:21).
It is our conviction that the verses Jeremiah 30:2-26 of this chapter are nothing more than the recital of the blessings that will be ultimately available to the whole Israel, along with everyone else on earth, “in the times of the Messiah.”
It is impossible to construe these verses (Jeremiah 30:2-26) literally, because nothing even remotely resembling these predictions ever occurred in the historical racial Israel.
The Northern Tribes Were Never Restored To “Their Land.”
- They were never reunited with the Southern Israel.
- They never repented.
- They never returned to the literal Jerusalem to worship God.
A few from the Northern tribes did return, as in the case of a few individuals from those tribes, who are mentioned in the New Testament, as for example Anna (Luke 2:36) of the tribe of Asher.
Every one of the extravagant blessings mentioned here was nothing more than an agricultural symbol of some great spiritual reality that would be realized under the New Covenant.
The proposition that we encounter in most of the current commentaries is that God Himself could hardly wait to marry the scandalous old Whore Israel; and that God actually calls her “The Virgin Israel” in Jeremiah 30:4,21.
Yes indeed, God did indeed marry the Virgin Israel in the New Covenant, but it was the New Israel!
A total failure to understand the difference in the two Israels has confused the writings of a great many scholars.
The designation of the Israel intended in these verses as “the Virgin Israel” makes it absolutely certain that it is the Israel which constitutes the Messianic kingdom which is meant.
For these reasons, there is little reason to concern ourselves with any exhaustive explanations of the agricultural metaphors which abound in these first 26 verses of Jeremiah 31.
Their meaning is exactly the same as that of similar metaphors found so frequently in the Old Testament.
The first phrase here ties the whole chapter to the times of the Messiah. Both the Northern and Southern Israels will be accepted in the kingdom of Christ, as will everyone else on earth who desires to serve God.
There Were Several Covenants That GOD Made
- There was a covenant with Noah (Genesis 6:18,9:9)
- Two covenants with Abraham (Genesis 17:2,10; 15:18ff)
- The covenant of salt (Numbers 18:19; Leviticus 2:13)
- The covenant of the everlasting priesthood (Numbers 25:13).
However, in Hebrews 8:6-7, this “new covenant” is contrasted with what is called “the first covenant,” or “the old covenant,” indicating that the new covenant would replace not merely those lesser covenants, but it would take the place of that covenant which was so great and comprehensive, overshadowing all others, that God called it the “first covenant.”
In short, it was designed to replace the entire religious system of the Jews, including the Decalogue, the priesthood, the sacrifices, the tabernacle ritual, the temple, and the temple services later developed, the statutes, judgments, and commandments, embracing the entire ceremonial and moral constitution of Judaism.
Every student needs to identify which covenant was annulled and replaced by the new.
The Old Covenant Identified
- It was the one made with the “house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
- The mention of the house of Judah is significant, because it distinguished the “old covenant” from the covenant of the priesthood which was made with the house of Levi. It also indicated that all Israel, both the Northern and Southern Israels, were included in the New Covenant.
- The old covenant was the one that had the Decalogue in it as a basic component (Deuteronomy 4:13; Hebrews 9:4).
- The old covenant was the one God made with Moses (Exodus 34:2,28).
- It was the one God made at the time when Israel came out of Egypt, “in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt” (Jeremiah 31:32).
- The nature of the new covenant. It partakes of the nature of all covenants.
- Every covenant which God concludes with men consists, on the side of God, the assurance of God’s favors and blessings; and on the side of men, it binds them to the keeping of commandments laid upon them.
Time when the new covenant was made. It was made upon the Cross of Jesus Christ when he became the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.”
Misconceptions Of The NEW COVENANT
We regret that some scholars have missed the truth regarding that New Covenant. Graybill, for example, said that, “The new covenant will not be a new law, the old law was good enough!
The last clause here is a flat contradiction of Hebrews 8:6-7, which declares that if the old law had been faultless God would not have changed it. Furthermore, the notion that the New Covenant got rid of all law is a preposterous error.
The author of Hebrews stated that, “The priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Hebrews 7:12).
Furthermore, if there is no law of the gospel, or law of Christ, or law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, then there is no such thing as sin, because “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
Another gross error is the notion that the New Covenant was stated in the form of a question, “Does the New Covenant efface the distinction between Israel (racial Israel) and the Church (the New Israel)?
The answer is a resounding no!
This, of course, is a flat contradiction of Romans 10:12, which declares that “there is no distinction,” not even between Gentiles and Jews; and, since Gentiles are in the Church, if one should suppose a distinction between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, it would mean that God has two classes of children in his Church, an utter impossibility.
In the New Covenant all special considerations and privileges of racial Israel were forever lost.
RACE, Today, Is TOTALLY UNIMPORTANT, as Regards Salvation.
No person whomsoever can be either saved or lost eternally, upon the basis of any racial consideration whatsoever.
Here is given the balance of Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant, recorded in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Although said to be made “with the house of Israel,” this new covenant has a much wider application than the old, the new Israel being in no way limited to the physical descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:29, etc.); and yet, significantly, Israel is not excluded.
The more spiritual nature of the new covenant is stressed, being founded upon the spirit rather than upon the letter; but perhaps the most astounding thing in the prophecy is the statement that there will be no need to teach men, saying, “Know the Lord,” since all will already know him.
How can such a thing be?
Only by the requirement that one must know the Lord BEFORE he can enter his kingdom, can these words be true.
Men were physically born into the old covenant, circumcised the eighth day, and thus grew up as members of that religious community; and, as a result, all manner of irreligious and unconverted persons were legally associated with the old Israel.
Thus it can never be in the new covenant. Infant membership in the new covenant is impossible, for one must know the Lord before he can enter the kingdom.
As the apostle John expressed it…
Only in the light of what is required BEFORE a person can become a child of God, and which requirement totally excludes infants and all others not of accountable age, do the words of Jeremiah’s remarkable prophecy become clear.
Nigh unto vanishing away affords the strongest possible evidence that Hebrews was written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of the temple services; for if those events had already happened, it would be absolutely unaccountable how the author could have made such a statement as this.
What a remarkable proof of his inspiration came in the sudden, total, and summary removal of all the salient features of the old economy when Jerusalem was destroyed so soon after these words were written.
Our author said that it was “nigh unto vanishing away”