302 - The New Covenant (Jeremiah 30–33)
If we know and follow the Lord, there is never a reason to give up hope. No matter how dark and foreboding our situation, God has not changed. He is still God, He still loves us, He is still faithful to His promises to us, and He is still in control of all things.
The New Covenant
Bible scholars have called these next four chapters in Jeremiah, “The Book of Consolation.” Here in chapters 30–33, the Lord is going to amplify His promise given just a few verses earlier in chapter 29: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
Up to this point, Jeremiah’s predominant message has been that God will judge His idolatrous and unrepentant people. The coming devastation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians is now irreversible. But there is still a future for this nation.
And Jeremiah has two futures in view here—one is a near-future restoration of the nation, and the other is a distant-future restoration of Israel when Christ returns to earth as the victorious Messiah-King. And that distant-future restoration is in view here in Jeremiah 30, where God says, “Days are coming . . . when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah” (verse 3).
Now that has not happened yet, has it? The truth is, there is more trouble ahead as God describes here in verse 7 “a time of distress for Jacob.” This is a reference to the coming tribulation that will last for seven years. This time of distress and tribulation will follow the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). The rapture is that moment when Jesus Christ takes away—literally snatches away—His church from the earth.
When the book of Revelation details this time of tribulation on earth following the rapture, the church is not mentioned. And that is because the tribulation is not meant to purify the church; it is God’s means to lead Israel to repentance and prepare them to receive their soon-coming Messiah.
The tribulation is a time of national revival of the Jewish people. The Lord talks about something in verse 18 that has not yet happened:
“Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt.”
In chapter 31, the restored conditions of future Israel are described further. God says in verse 4, “I will build you, and you shall be built,” and in verse 5, “You shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria . . . and shall enjoy the fruit.”
People today who say God is finished with Israel and the church has taken Israel’s place—well, I don’t think they are reading the same Old Testament I am reading here. These promises are literal and real, and they will be fulfilled one day.
Israel and Judah will be reunited; verse 10 tells us the Lord will regather His scattered people. And in verse 13 He says, “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” So, there is the clear promise of a physical restoration of the united nation of Israel. But that’s just the beginning of these days of future glory, according to God’s promise.
There will also be a spiritual restoration of the people. This promise centers around the new covenant. Listen to the Lord’s words in verses 31-34:
“Behold, the days are coming . . . when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke . . . For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts . . . they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest . . . I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Here are the covenant promises: First, the nation that divided after the death of King Solomon will be reunited. Second, this covenant will not be broken. Third, this new covenant will not be an external law like the Mosaic covenant but an internal law, written on their hearts. And fourth, it will be made with the nation of Israel as they repent and place their faith in the Lord, as their Messiah.
Now in the New Testament we have details of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. His death is the basis for this new covenant. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
But Jeremiah says that this covenant is for Israel. So, how do we as Christians relate to it? Well, we participate in the spiritual blessings of the new covenant, for we receive forgiveness and eternal life through the substitutionary death of Christ. This covenant applies spiritually to everyone who trusts in Him for salvation.
But understand that there are still these prophecies of a restored Israel, which will be fulfilled when the nation will, as individuals, turn in faith to Christ at His second coming. Then, as the apostle Paul writes in Romans 11:26, “All Israel will be saved.”
God is not done with Israel. Indeed, He has plans for Israel—plans to give them a future and a hope in Christ.
Now this promise of a future spiritual restoration for Israel is followed by divine assurance. An eternal covenant requires an eternal people. The Lord promises here in Jeremiah 31:40 that He will restore the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, and that city “shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”
Now Jeremiah presents one of those action sermons again. God tells him to go out and buy a piece of land. So, he buys the land, even knowing that Babylon is about to conquer the land. What is he doing? He is prophetically promising that one day, God’s chosen people will return to their land again.
And that has not fully happened yet, beloved. Yes, Israel became a nation once again in 1948, and the Jewish people are living in the land, but there are as many Jewish people living in America as in Israel today. Listen, the prophecies of Israel’s return to the land are fulfilled during the tribulation period; that’s when the Jewish people will be moved by God to literally flock back to Israel, from all around the world, as the Lord prepares them for His second coming.
Can God do something like this on such a global scale? Jeremiah says here in chapter 32, “Ah, Lord God! It is you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (verse 17).
In chapter 33 the Lord reaffirms the new covenant promise that the hearts of the people will be changed. In verse 8 He repeats His promise, “I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion.”
And so, Jeremiah records the Lord’s invitation here in verse 3, where God says, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NASB).
Let me tell you something, beloved: no matter how hopeless something might look, no matter how difficult your situation might seem today, if God can orchestrate centuries of world events, He can orchestrate the events in your life. If He can forgive a nation of idolaters when they finally come to repentance, He can forgive you. If God will keep His promises to Israel, over a period of thousands of years, He will keep His promises to you.
And His promises to you remain the same—to give you a future and hope in your Messiah. You have been included in His new covenant by trusting in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Decisive (Victor Books, 1995), 127.
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