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A New Covenant



A concise description of the new covenant is located at Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Some insist that the Hebrew of that passage doesn't really predict another covenant; but rather: an amended version of the original covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God at Horeb and Moab as per Deut 29:8-14. In other words; it's been alleged that the so-called new covenant is what will emerge after God adds Jer 31:31-34 to the original covenant's language.

What they propose is not only unethical; but also quite uncivil because Webster's defines a covenant as (1) a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement; viz: a compact, and (2) a written agreement or promise, usually under seal, between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.

In other words; covenants are contractual agreements. So then; when God agreed upon the contract He made with Yhvh's people at Horeb and Moab; He legally bound Himself, on oath, to its terms and conditions just as they too legally bound themselves on oath to its terms and conditions.

So then, at this stage of the game; not even God is at liberty to edit, amend, revise, upgrade, and/or otherwise alter the contract without putting Himself in breach of the contract's language at Deut 4:2 and Deut 5:29-30; and thus incurring a curse upon Himself as per the contract's language at Deut 27:26.7

Those who allege that God would dare to amend the original contract, after it's already been agreed upon by both Himself and His people, are insinuating that God is a person of questionable integrity who can't be trusted to honor His oaths; viz: they are actually insinuating the Almighty is a crook!

Along with the breach of contract, and the general lack of ethics and civility that such an action on God's part would entail; I should add that if the above notion were true; then the common Hebrew/English translations would say so; but the four below don't.

Jer 31:31

Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will form a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, a new covenant. (Chabad.org)

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: (Jewish Virtual Library)

Behold the days are coming— the word of Hashem —when I will seal a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the house of Judah (Stone Edition Tanach)

See, a time is coming— declares the Lord —when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah (1984 JPS Tanakh)

None of those common Hebrew/English translations indicate that the covenant described in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is either a renewal, a revision, or an upgrade of the original covenant; but rather, they indicate that the new covenant is a separate contract, and unlike the first.

Jer 31:32

Not like the covenant that I formed with their forefathers on the day I took them by the hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, that they broke My covenant (Chabad.org)

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 (Jewish Virtual Library)

Not like the covenant that I sealed with their forefathers on the day that I took hold of their hand to take them out of Egypt, for they abrogated My covenant (Stone Edition Tanach)

It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke (1984 JPS Tanakh)


Common Objection:: God won't change the covenant he established with our forefathers.

That's  precisely why those objectors need to be searching for some way to get themselves released from it. Let me show you something.

Matt 5:18 . . Assuredly, I say to you: till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

The key word in that passage is "fulfilled". Can you guess what the speaker was talking about with that word? Well; I'll save you the trouble of guessing and just tell you. He was talking about all the curses listed in Lev 26:14-39, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:15-68 that God is obligated, on oath, to pour down on those among Yhvh's people who breach the contract that Israel agreed upon with God at Horeb and Moab— and kids; be aware that it's God's sacred duty to carry out His end of that contract and make sure those curses happen otherwise He himself will be in breach of it.


New Covenant Torah

Jer 31:30-32. Behold, the days are coming— the sacred word of Hashem —when I will seal a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah: not like the covenant that I sealed with their forefathers on the day that I took hold of their hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, for they abrogated My covenant; although I became their Master— the word of Hashem. For this is the covenant that I shall seal with the House of Israel after those days— the word of Hashem —I will place my Torah within them and I will write it onto their heart.

It's a very common source of error and confusion among both Jews and Christians to assume that the Torah spoken of in the language of the new covenant is identical to the Torah of the Horeb/Moab covenant; just as it's a very common source of error and confusion to assume that the Torah by which Abraham lived is identical to the Torah of the Horeb/Moab covenant. (Gen 26:5)

Suffice it to say that the Hebrew word for "torah" simply means precepts and/or statutes; which pertain to all laws, both civil and divine, not just those pertaining to the covenant that God bound Himself to on oath with Yhvh's people in the book of Deuteronomy. For example; the precepts and statutes of California law differ in many respects from the precepts and statutes of Oregon law; viz: Oregon torah differs from California torah.

The first clue that the precepts and statutes of the new covenant differ in many respects from the precepts and statutes of the original covenant is where God says "not like the covenant that I sealed with their forefathers." For example:

Jer 31:33 . . I will forgive their iniquity and will no longer recall their sin.

Although the torah of the original covenant allowed God to forgive His people's sin, it did not allow Him to forget it. In other words "forgiveness" under the terms and conditions of the original covenant is merely a reprieve; viz: a stay of execution. You see; God means business about the curses listed at Lev 26:14-39, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:15-68. They have to be satisfied; because God is under oath to satisfy them— no exceptions and no excuses —and not even Yom Kippur can stop God from satisfying those curses. In point of fact; the very purpose of Yom Kippur is to remind Yhvh's people that their sins, even their forgiven sins, are still on the books awaiting justice; which is why Yom Kippur is a day to be blue and depressed rather than a day to be happy and cheerful. Do criminals on death row have cause to be happy and cheerful? Well if they did; that would be very unusual to say the least.

Ex 34:6-7 . . Yhvh, Yhvh God: compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished

Nahum 1:3 . . Yhvh is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked

Looking at those two scriptures one cannot help but scratch their head and wonder how it's possible that God forgives the guilty, and yet at the same time does not acquit the guilty. Well; the answer to that is quite simple: forgiveness and acquittal are two very different things in the Old Testament. In other words; though God forgives the guilty, He never clears the guilty; viz: forgiveness in the Old Testament is merely a reprieve; which Webster's defines as: to delay the punishment of someone; such as a prisoner who is sentenced to death. Long story short: there's a reckoning coming for Yhvh's people when the covenant will finally get its pound of flesh as per Lev 26:14-39, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:15-68.


Yom Kippur

Lev 16:20-22 . .When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat.

. . . He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites--all their sins--and put them on the goat's head.

. . . He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

The live goat is commonly labeled a scapegoat; which Webster's defines as a person who is unfairly blamed for something that others have done.

But I tend to think that the live goat would be better labeled an escapee goat because by all rights it should be put to death for all the sins it bears. In other words: the live goat is a fugitive; viz: a virtual goat on the lamb, so to speak; which Yhvh disdains as nothing less than an outlaw.

This suggests to me that the people's sins are still out there somewhere; hanging over their heads like a sword of Damocles.

Yom Kippur is not a happy day. The people are commanded to produce intense feelings of guilt; and that's because their sins are still on the books; waiting for the day when God brings them to justice. In other words: Yom Kippur doesn't gain the people an acquittal, it only gains them a reprieve.

Ex 34:6-7 . . Yhvh passed by before him, and proclaimed: Yhvh, Yhvh God . . . that will by no means clear the guilty.

Nah 1:3 . . Yhvh will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.


Hosea's Work-Around

It's extremely important when reading the prophets to avoid interpreting them in such a way as to circumvent the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God at Deut 29:8-14. With that in mind; let's you and I review the covenant and see what it says about deliberate sins (a.k.a. presumptuous sins).

Num 15:27-31 . . But if an individual sins inadvertently, he shall offer up a she goat in its first year as a sin offering. And the kohen shall atone for the erring soul which sinned inadvertently before the Lord, so as to atone on his behalf, and it shall be forgiven him. One law shall apply to anyone who sins inadvertently from the native born of the children of Israel and the proselyte who resides among them.

. . . But if a person should act highhandedly, whether he is a native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For he has scorned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment; that soul shall be utterly cut off; for its iniquity is upon it.

God forbids revising, editing and/or otherwise circumventing the covenant's statutes and/or its precepts.

Deut 4:2 . . Do not add to the word which I command you, nor diminish from it, to observe the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Deut 4:28-29 . . But as for you, stand here with Me, and I will speak to you all the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances which you will teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess. Keep them to perform [them] as the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside either to the right or to the left.

Scofflaws who refuse to comply with the covenant are cursed.

Deut 27:26 . . Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them.

The words "cursed be" are in the grammatical present tense; indicating that scofflaws incur the curse immediately— no delay, and no waiting period.

Now than; back to prophet.

Q:: Does the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Deut 29:8-14 stipulate prayer as an atonement for deliberate sins— a.k.a. highhanded sins, a.k.a. presumptuous sins, a.k.a. willful sins?

A:: No.

Q:: Then what was the prophet suggesting at Hos 14:2-3?

A:: That's what you've got to find out in order to avoid disobeying Deut 4:2 and Deut 4:28-29, and in disobeying incur the instantaneous curse of Deut 27:26 upon yourself.


Reiteration

According to the terms and conditions of the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God at Deut 29:8-14, there is neither forgiveness nor atonement available for people who commit deliberate sins; viz: scofflaws.

Num 15:30-31

A person who shall act high-handedly, whether native or proselyte, he blasphemed Hashem! —that person shall be cut off from among his people, for he scorned the word of Hashem and broke His commandments; that person will surely be cut off, his sin is upon him. (Stone Edition Tanach)

But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles the Lord; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off— he bears his guilt. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

But if a person should act highhandedly, whether he is a native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For he has scorned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment; that soul shall be utterly cut off for its iniquity is upon it. (Chabad.org)

But the soul that doeth aught with a high hand, whether he be home-born or a stranger, the same blasphemeth HaShem; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of HaShem, and hath broken His commandment; that soul shall utterly be cut off, his iniquity shall be upon him. (Jewish Virtual Library)

Deut 27:26 . . Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them.

Modern Judaism isn't the first generation of Yhvh's people to defy elements of the covenant. Others have gone that route before them.

Zech 7:11-12 . . But they refused to listen; and they turned a rebellious shoulder; and they made their ears heavy, not to hear. And they made their heart as hard as a shamir, in order not to listen to the Torah (Chabad.org)


The Purpose

Why institute another covenant at all? Is the first covenant too hard? No; it's do-able: in point of fact; the original covenant is very do-able. Well then, what's the matter with it? There's nothing the matter with the original covenant; the matter is with the people: they lack the willingness to comply.

Isa 53:6 . . All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way

Anybody can see for themselves from reading the people's history in the Old Testament what their natural propensity to stray got them— it got them all the curses listed at Lev 26:14-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:15-69 up to, and including all the abuse they've endured at the hands of foreign powers in the centuries since Christ.

Well; their history, those curses, and that abuse is not exactly what I'd call the bee's knees and/or the cat's meow. No; those things are unacceptable and cannot be allowed to loop; viz: to continually repeat over, and over, and over again. Well; the only way to stop those curses, and to stop the abuse, from looping is to do something about the people's lack of willingness to comply with God's wishes.

Back in 1968, when I was a young man just beginning a forty-year welding career; I gave some thought to my own lack of willingness to comply with God's wishes. It seemed to me that if complying with God's wishes were second nature; instead of being such an effort; then I wouldn't need to fear going to hell. (I was raised a Roman Catholic). Imagine my pleasant surprise to discover that God was way ahead of me; and lo and behold: has a solution to my exact same problem in the works for His people.

Ezek 36:24-27 . . For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; from all your impurities and from all your abominations will I cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do them.

God's scheme will not only remedy the people's lack of willingness to comply with His wishes; but it will ensure that they never again get dominated and/or abused by a foreign power, nor ever again evicted from their land.

Ezek 36:28 . .Then will you dwell in the land that I gave your fathers, and you will be a people to Me, and I will be to you as a God.

BTW: Ezekiel's prophecy is what started me on the path to renouncing the Roman Catholic religion,


Summary

Jer 31:38-40 . . See, a time is coming— declares the Lord —when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate; and the measuring line shall go straight out to the Gareb Hill, and then turn toward Goah. And the entire Valley of the Corpses and Ashes, and all the fields as far as the Wadi Kidron, and the corner of the Horse Gate on the east, shall be holy to the Lord. They shall never again be uprooted or overthrown. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

That promise— "they shall never again be uprooted or overthrown" —could never become a reality if Abraham's posterity were permitted to remain under the original covenant's jurisdiction because we know from Lev 26:14-39, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:15-68 that the covenant stipulates mandatory eviction whenever the Jews become too decadent.

Even if there were no such thing as the new covenant, reason would cry out for one so Yhvh's people could stay put in Israel instead of being kicked out of it and/or dominated by foreign powers again and again.

Messiah's reign would be jeopardized too without a new covenant. He might be an okay guy himself whose methods please God alright; but his countrymen's typically half-baked attitude towards God's authority would most likely ruin things for him in short order. But according to Dan 7:13-14 Messiah's kingdom is predicted to be an everlasting kingdom and the one which will never pass away. So his constituents absolutely have got to be made one hundred percent God-fearing to protect Messiah's best interests.

I think history has proven well enough that Yhvh's people cannot be trusted to be faithful to the original covenant. But the new covenant does not rely upon their inconsistent human will power. God's spirit will take charge and reform the people in spite of themselves; and done in such a permanent way that they will never lose the benefits of Messiah's peace and prosperity. The new covenant is a very good deal.


Related References    

Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus
by Michael L. Brown
Volume 1 ISBN 0-8010-6063-X
Volume 2 ISBN 0-8010-6334-5
Volume 3 ISBN 0-8010-6423-6

 

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