Most premillennialists and all dispensationalists apply the predictions of the OT prophets to ethnic Israel that they believe is to be restored spiritually in a future earthly millennium. One way to evaluate their system is to examine OT prophecies concerning Israel that are interpreted and applied by the Holy Spirit in the NT. Last time we considered Amos 9:11-15 and its explanation in Acts 15:13-18. This time we turn to the great promise of Jeremiah 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:  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:  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.  ... and I will remember their sin no more."
With whom is the "new covenant" to be made when "the days come" (31)? It is to be made "with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah" (31, 33), that is, with those whose "fathers" God brought "out of the land of Egypt" (32). Thus, interpreting Jeremiah 31:31-34 literally and without reference to any other part of Scripture, the new covenant is to be made with national Israel and Judah (a "house"  and "people" ), the descendants of those whom God redeemed from Egypt. No mention is made of the Gentiles or a catholic church at all.
However, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is understood by the NT writers very differently. The citations in Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16-17, in their contexts, teach us that the new covenant is established upon the sacrifice and intercession of Jesus Christ, the heavenly high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Thus the Holy Spirit declares, "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (9:28). Can this be restricted just to ethnic Jews? Moreover, though the writer to the Hebrews has much to say about the new covenant and its relationship to Christ’s blood and His heavenly priesthood and kingship, he has nothing to say about any future earthly millennium for the physical descendents of Jacob.
When He instituted the Lord’s Supper, Christ had Jeremiah 31 in His mind: "this is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many" (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). Christ’s new covenant blood redeemed His people from "every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9). Thus Paul tells the largely Gentile church in Corinth that at the Lord’s Table they drink "the new testament [covenant] in [Christ’s] blood" (I Cor. 11:25). Clearly, "Israel" and "Judah" in Jeremiah 31 refer to the catholic church of the NT redeemed in Christ, and not merely ethnic Jews either in our days or in a future millennium.
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 7
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851