Summary: How is the New Covenant better than the Old?
A better covenant(Reading Jer. 31:1-14;31-34)
This chapter continues the argument of the previous chapters about Christ’s priesthood. We have seen that He was not a priest of the Levitical order, but of the order of Melchizedek. He pursues this thought here to shows that it also involved a change in the nature of the covenant between God and His people.
The word covenant has a heavy, theological sound and may put you off, but it contains depths of meaning and interest for us all. It is an old fashioned word, yet it is relevant to our everyday lives. When you promise to do certain things, on condition that someone else does something else in a legally binding way you enter into a covenant. Although the term is still used by lawyers we normally use the term contract nowadays. We make a contact when we buy and sell a house or car and we sign the papers to make them binding. If we change our minds after signing we can be sued by the person that we had the contract with.
God adapted Himself to our practices so that we might better understand His purposes. Theologians have identified several covenants in the Bible, but we will just consider two covenants, the Old and the New, mentioned in this chapter.
The Old or Mosaic Covenant
The Old or Mosaic Covenant was basically an agreement that the People of Israel would obey God’s commandments and God would treat them as His own, special people; and He would make them a holy nation (Ex. 19v5, 6). The people unanimously promised “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” v8. God went further and promised them their own land, protection from their enemies, good health, a fertile land and many decedents. Ex 23: 20–33. Again the people gave a unanimous shout of assent 24:3. They confirmed their promise again when the Book of the law was read publicly. “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” 24:7
How little they knew themselves! Very soon they were dancing wildly around the golden calf. The history of Israel in the Old Testament is one of failure. They forgot God and His laws and He punished them for the failure. They rarely enjoyed the blessings that He promised because they did not live up to the contract that they had entered into.
But what else could be expected of them? There were two great defects in that old covenant, which arose out of the weakness of human nature; firstly it gave them no power to do what they promised; and, secondly, it didn’t really deal with their sins the law made nothing perfect Heb 7:19, cp 9:9. The same is true of all of us.
Why can’t the law make us perfect? Think about the speed limit for a minute. There is a 30MPH speed limit in much of this county, the law says that we must not exceed it, but does that mean that we all, always drive at 30MPH or less when we should? Of course not! Even those who try to keep the law loose track of their speed at times and go faster. That makes us all lawbreakers. You try telling a Police Officer that you have never broken the speed limit before and that driving at 40 was a moment’s aberration!