Monday, 17 December 2018
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Hebrews 8:10
In this verse, the author closely cites Jeremiah 31:33. The words begin with, “For this is the covenant that I will make.” The Greek literally reads, “For this is the covenant that I will covenant.” The word translated as “I will covenant” is a different word than that used in verse 8:8. There, it was more akin to, “I will ratify,” and it “focuses on the ‘end-point’ of two or more related factors working together to reach their fulfillment” (HELPS Word Studies). Here, the word signifies, to “thoroughly (carefully) arrange which effectively accomplishes the objective at hand” (HELPS Word Studies).
According to the verse, this New Covenant will be “with the house of Israel after those days.” It should be noted that in verse 8:8 it said, “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Here, there is a uniting of the two into one unit once again. A covenant is something made between two parties. And so here we have an interesting look into what has happened in redemptive history. Christ confirmed the covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, but that covenant has not actually been “covenanted” with them yet. They rejected Him and were in turn rejected. That is why it says, “after those days.” There is a time when the house of Israel and the house of Judah would again be considered one house. That has happened. Israel has returned to the land, and they have become one united people – Israel.
Despite having rejected Christ, and despite having been rejected by Him during a time of punishment, there is a time which is promised when they will again be brought back and brought into this covenant which was ratified in His shed blood. This is promised, and it is guaranteed in the words, “says the Lord.” He has spoken, and He will bring it to pass. At that time, He says that “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.”
Note that the word “mind” is singular – it is a collective mind of the people upon which His laws will be placed. However, the word “hearts” is plural. The hearts of all within the collective will have His laws written upon them. This clearly establishes that the Lord is speaking of a collective body which is made up of individuals. It is a precept which must be understood to grasp the significance of the author’s words in the book of Hebrews. The Lord has not permanently rejected Israel the nation. Any individual can come to Him now and be saved, but the collective is not yet saved. Someday, the two will be in one accord. National Israel will be saved. Understanding this, the Lord continues by saying, “and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
The Lord, meaning Jesus – who ratified the New Covenant in His blood – will be recognized and acknowledged as their God. That is prophesied by Jesus explicitly in Matthew 23 when He said to the people –
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39
Someday, as prophesied by Jesus, He will return to Israel (Jerusalem symbolizes the leadership of Israel, and thus the national proclamation of Israel) and they will acknowledge Him as LORD, meaning YHVH – the Lord God of Israel.
By citing this verse, and stating it was with the “house of Israel,” people over the centuries have confused Israel with the church, a doctrine known as “replacement theology.” Because God made certain promises in the Old Testament to Israel which never came about, and because Israel disappeared from the scene as a nation, the church unwisely assumed that the church replaced Israel and that those unfulfilled promises would now be realized in the church. However, as is often the case with unfulfilled prophecy, these people were wrong. The church did not replace Israel. The church age is a separate dispensation in God’s economy. Paul could not be any clearer in chapters 9-11 of Romans that God is not through with Israel and never does he confuse the two by claiming they are a single entity. In fact, the very verses which replacement theologians use to support their case actually refute it, such as –
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
When Paul speaks in this verse of “neither Jew nor Greek,” and that they are one, he is confirming a distinction between the two. It’s obvious that males and females are not the same; no normal person would ever make such a claim. Being one in Christ is not the same as having no distinction in identity. Therefore, the Gentiles are not, as replacement theologians claim, the Jews. Logically also, the church is also not Israel. Rather, at the end of the current dispensation, God’s attention will again be focused on the restored nation of Israel. This will occur at the rapture of the church.
In the words, “and they shall be my people,” there is a clue to the dispensational model. Israel was called the Lord’s people, but in their rejection of Him, He chose a new people – the Gentile-led church. Paul cites Hosea in Romans 9, stating the church is God’s people. However, Israel will again be called “My people” by the Lord. This is confirmed in Peter’s words which cite Hosea again, applying them to Israel.
During the time of Israel’s exile for disobedience, there has been a time of God’s favor upon the Gentile world. The precedent has been set in Israel and therefore it can, and does, apply to those who are not Israel as well. The interesting thing for people alive in this day is that Israel as a nation has been re-gathered to the land of Israel. The “times of the Gentiles” is now coming to its close.
As a confirmation of these things, and as if opening up a treasure of beautiful gems, the passage Paul refers to in Hosea is marked with a special pattern known as a chiasm. This pattern shows the contrast of rejection and acceptance by God. A chiasm is a pattern which states a truth and then turns around and restates it in the opposite order. Sometimes, such as in the case of this one in Hosea, the pattern says the opposite as it unfolds, thus it is a chiasm of contrasts –
Hosea 1:9-2:23 – “But Me she forgot,” says the LORD.
A Chiasm of Contrasts – Our Unfaithfulness and God’s Unlimited Mercy (11/23/07)
a 1:9 You are not my people, I will not be your God.
—–b 1:10 Jezreel (God will sow)
———-c 2:3 Dry Land, thirst.
—————d 2:5 Wife departs from her husband.
——————–e 2:7 Wife returns to her husband.
————————–f2:9 Take away the new wine.
——————————g 2:10-12 God punishes Israel.
———————————–h 2:13 God will punish her.
—————————————-x 2:13 “But Me she forgot,” says the LORD
———————————–h 2:14a God will allure her.
——————————g 2:14b God comforts Israel.
————————–f 2:15 Give vineyards.
——————–e 2:16 LORD says, “That you will call me ‘My Husband.’”
—————d 2:19 Husband betroths wife.
———-c 2:21, 22 Grain, new wine, oil.
—–b 2:22 Jezreel (God will sow)
a 2:23 You are my people; You are my God.
As can be seen, there is God’s rejection of Israel, their punishment for being rejected, and then a return of the husband/wife relationship to Israel. During the time when He says, “they are not My people,” Paul says that the Gentiles are His people. This verse in Hebrews, citing the words of the Lord through Jeremiah, show very clearly that Israel is not forever rejected by God. He still has a plan and a purpose for them.
Life application: Though the Gentiles were once out of the picture, there were still hints of God’s love for them – Ruth for example. And though the Jews rejected Christ, God has not wholly given up on them. He will again call them as a people to Himself, thus demonstrating that He truly is a God of grace and mercy.
You are the everlasting, covenant-keeping, and most glorious God! Thank you that despite our misinterpretations of Scripture, our salvation is secure in Christ and not lost in faulty doctrine. However, help our doctrine to be pure, so that You will be glorified through it. Amen!