Summary: The old covenant is a corporate affair between Yahweh and Israel, The new covenant does not involve a corporate action, indeed it is an individual and uniquely personal relationship with God’s own people brokered by and in Christ Jesus. prophet Jeremiah b
I want to start from what a covenant is not. Covenant is not a contract. It is more than that.
A contract is a legally binding exchange of promises or agreement between parties that the law will enforce. Contract law is based on the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda (pacts must be kept). Breach of contract is recognised by the law and remedies can be provided. Almost everyone makes contracts every day. Sometimes written contracts are required, e.g., when buying a house. However the vast majority of contracts can be and are made orally, like buying a text book, or a coffee at a shop.
Covenant, on the other hand, is a solemn contract, oath, or bond, it is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith as it is used in the Hebrew Bible, thus it is important to all Abrahamic religions, especially Judaism and Christianity.
In the bible, the word "covenant" refers to any of a number of solemn agreements made between God and the Israelites, and sometimes between God and some individuals. For example, God made a covenant with Abraham, Noah and also with the entire people of Israel on the Mount Sinai (Horeb) Deut. 5, 1-10 during which he handed over the Torah to Moses.
God’s covenants with the Israelites are foundational to the Torah, and form the grounds for the claim that the Israelites are God’s "chosen people." According to the terms of these covenants, as recorded in the bible, the Israelites were told that they must worship God and Him alone, and obey His Commandments in order to receive spiritual and temporal blessing. If Israel obeyed God in this way, it would avoid the effects of the curse of disobedience.
The prophet Jeremiah was reminding the people of Israel about the covenant they had with God. Prophet Jeremiah had the unenviable task of readdressing a bad situation through his prophesy.
A prophet neither born of royalties nor possessed the eloquent diplomacy of the higher courts of the land, Jeremiah was always going to find a non-receptive audience for his ministry. He had more enemies than friends, he was tagged a prophet of doom, yet it was God’s words and obedience to his calling that inspired Jeremiah. Again, by the world’s standards, Jeremiah was an abject failure of a man, without prestige, favour and power he was ridiculed by the people of the so-called thriving Israel.
What Israel failed to realized though, was that Israel only thrived in sin, Israel was only successful in disobedience to God. Israel failed to realised that it had broken her covenant with God and that in Jeremiah, Israel had her only prophesy of hope.
A highly successful lawyer lived about 300 miles away from his lonely father. They had not seen each other for years, even though they had an agreement he would make a quarterly visit every year. His father calls him up and asks, “when are you going to visit?” John the son proceeds to tell his dad about the demands on his time, his courts schedules, meetings and so on and so forth, everything that prevented him visiting. So his father says, “I’ve been thinking a lot about this, when I die, do you intend to come to my funeral?” John responds, “Dad! I can’t believe you‘d ask that. Of course I’d come to the funeral.” His dad replies, “Good. Let’s make another deal. Forget about the funeral. I need you more now than I will when I die”
God needs Israel at the time of Jeremiah, God wanted Israel to repent and obey and not die. God does not rejoice at the death and punishment of a sinner but that he may repent and live. That is the message of the prophets down the ages and it is still the message of the New covenant and indeed the Christian message today. “repent and lIve”
The message is the same for us today, the message of Jeremiah’s prophesies speaks volumes to the contemporary audience. We live in an ever increasing materialistic world, the poor getting poorer and the rich don’t want to know. The rich live lavishly in abundant waste. The media is all about the so-called celebrity, a type of people who were previously unknown but now celebrated because they had participated in an immoral and unethical peep show call the ‘big brother’. People are dying in war for their country and very little is known about their sacrifice for humankind. Their bravery get little mention in royal courts and the politicians paid lip service of pledging support for the loved ones left behind. We have read about all these before, haven’t we? It was during Jeremiah’s time, yet it certainly rings true to us today. So nothing has really changed then. What God wants from us is a commitment to new covenant.