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Sermon #2309 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “A New Covenant”
Text: Jeremiah 31:1-40
Subject: The Everlasting Covenant of Grace
Date: Tuesday Evening — February 7, 2017
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Larry Brown
Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of visiting with some very dear friends. Shortly after we sat down for a cup of coffee, the husband asked me — “What was Jeremiah’s covenant?” I responded, “Do you mean the covenant spoken of in Jeremiah chapter 31?’ He said, “Yes, that’s it.” As I began to explain to them what that blessed covenant is all about, he and wife listened intently. How delighted I was to spend a few minutes talking to them about God’s everlasting grace and salvation made sure to his elect in that covenant!
As soon as I got back in my office, I turned to Jeremiah 31 and began reading. I thought myself, “How long has it been since I preached from this passage. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I have never preached to you, or anyone else, from this great, glorious, God-honoring, soul-cheering portion of Holy Scripture.
So, I ask you to open your Bibles to Jeremiah chapter 31. I want to talk to you tonight about God’s everlasting covenant of grace, that covenant made with us by the Triune God in the person of our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Surety of the covenant. In verse 31, the Lord God calls this covenant “a new covenant.” — That is the title of my message — “A New Covenant.” We will begin in Jeremiah 31:1.
A Chosen People
1st — This chapter begins by the Lord God describing his church, his people, as a chosen, elect people (v. 1-2).
Jeremiah 31:1-2 “At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.”
Those who escaped the sword in Egypt found grace in the wilderness and rest in Canaan. — What a picture of our own experience of grace!
An Everlasting Love
2nd — Next, in verse 3, The Lord God appears to these chosen people, his church, and tells us that we are loved by him with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
The singular cause of God saving us is his everlasting love for us, even that love with which he loves his Son (John 17:23).
A Promised Salvation
3rd — Verses4-9 reveal a promised salvation. The Lord God promises to save all the people of his love. I do not question the fact that our text refers to God bringing Israel out of their Babylonian Captivity to Jerusalem. It does. But I am just as certain that it refers to something far, far greater. The Lord our God here promises to save his people, his Israel, his chosen, his elect, out of every nation, from every corner of the world into which he has scattered them since the fall of our father, Adam, in the Garden.
Jeremiah 31:4-9 “Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. 5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things. 6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. 7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”
4th — Read verses 10-14, and rejoice with me, as we are reminding of God’s free, saving, amazing grace, the super-abounding grace of God in Christ.
Jeremiah 31:10-14 “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. 12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. 13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. 14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.”
40 times we read in this chapter “Thus saith the Lord!” — That is the whole basis of our faith and confidence in him and before him.
Satisfied at Last
5th — Next, the Lord our God assures us that we shall be satisfied at last.
Jeremiah 31:15-17 “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. 16 Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. 17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
6th — In verses 18-21, we are reminded that repentance is God’s work in his chosen, redeemed people, the work of his omnipotent mercy and irresistible grace in Christ, the work of his Holy Spirit in us. These verses beautifully describe the melting of sinners’ hearts by God’s free grace.
Jeremiah 31:18-21 “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. 19 Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. 20 Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD. 21 Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.”
A Savior Promised
7th — Look at verses 22-26. Remember, this whole chapter is talking about God’s great salvation in Christ, the salvation of his people because of his everlasting love, salvation by a covenant, a covenant established and fulfilled in Christ our Surety. Here is God’s promise of a man, the God-man, a Savior to accomplish the whole work.
Jeremiah 31:22-25 “How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness. 24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks. 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.”
In verse 26, the Lord Jesus himself speaks.
Jeremiah 31:26 “Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.”
On the third day after our his death, our Lord Jesus arose from the dead! And when he arose, the short sleep of his temporary death was sweet to him, because by it he destroyed the everlasting sleep of eternal death for all his people! By death he destroyed him that had the power of death! And now, as the glorious Head of his body the church, he expresses a felt blessedness and sweetness in it, because in his triumphs all his people were and are forever triumphant over death, hell, and the grave.
Grace and Justice
8th — In the next verses (27-30), the Lord God assures us that all who are made heirs of his salvation in Christ shall watched over and kept by him. But all who refuse to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior, shall eat the fruit of their own way and perish at last because of their sin.
Jeremiah 31:27-30 “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD. 29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”
A New Covenant
9th — Verses 31-34 declare the blessedness of this new covenant, the covenant of grace, by which God’s elect are saved.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “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: 32 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: 33 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. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
We know that this “new covenant” is talking about God’s everlasting covenant of grace and salvation because the Holy Spirit tells us so in Hebrews 8:7-13. That is what the eighth chapter of Hebrews is about. God has abolished the old covenant by fulfilling its types and shadows, by bringing in the new.
Hebrews 8:7-13 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Jeremiah 31 is referred to again in Hebrews 10:15-17.
Hebrews 10:15-22 “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
This covenant is not called “a new covenant” because it is newly made, or of a new origin. We know that because this covenant is elsewhere called “the everlasting covenant.” It is a covenant made with Christ our covenant Surety before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8).
Hebrews 13:20 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”
Š It is called a new covenant because it is newly revealed in this Gospel Age. — That which is revealed second was made first.
Š It is called a new covenant because it is always new, and fresh. — It will never grow old, or give place to another.
Š It is called a new covenant because it gives us a new record, a new heart, a new nature, and a new spirit!
God the Holy Spirit declares that this new, everlasting covenant is a covenant of pure, free, immutable grace in Christ. This is the covenant which gave David hope and confidence on his death bed.
2 Samuel 23:5 “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.”
This new, everlasting covenant is immutable and sure, its blessings are all infallibly secured to God’s elect, because this is a one-way covenant. It was made between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In that sense, it is a bilateral covenant. But, in so far as we are concerned, it is a unilateral covenant. Its blessings are secured by the will of God alone. Look at it again.
Hebrews 8:9-8:12 “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
This is what the Lord God declared he would do for all his people in this Gospel Day by his free, sovereign, saving grace in Christ. Hear it and rejoice!
“I will put my laws in their minds and write them in their hearts.” — God’s laws here cannot possibly have reference merely to the moral law. We know that because God’s moral law is inscribed upon every man’s conscience by nature in creation (Rom. 2:14-15; 1:18-20). The laws of God here refer to the commandments of Gospel, all the commands of Christ with respect to repentance, faith and godliness.
1 John 3:23-3:24 “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
Indeed, the whole Word of God is included. Saving grace gives the believer a genuine love for the whole of God’s Revelation and causes us to cherish it. These things are written not on tablets of stone, but on every believer’s heart and mind. Believers think on the things of God, meditate upon them, love his Word and his way, and walk in the light of his revealed will. — “I love thy law, O Lord!” His commandments are not grievous, but precious, to the renewed heart (Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 5:1-4).
“I will be to them their God and they shall be my people.” — He who is our God is the God of all creation, all men, angels, and devils. But this is a promise of special grace, special grace, indeed! Here God almighty promises that he is the God of his covenant people, just as he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus (John 17:21; 1 John 1:3). We are his people in the sense that all mankind are his people. We are the sons of God, whom he loved in a distinctly and chose in Christ — The family of God (Romans 8:14-17).
Look at the next line. — They “all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” — Hebrews 1:1 gives some light on this.
Hebrews 1:1 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.”
In the Old Testament, God spoke to his people through the prophets and the priests. If a man wanted to know what the Lord had to say, he inquired of the prophet. If he wanted to offer a sacrifice, he went to the priest. That is not the case in this Gospel Age. Every believer has an unction from the Holy One (1 John 2:20). We all have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Š Every believer is a son.
Š Every believer is a student of the Word.
Š Every believer is taught of God.
Š Every believer is a priest to offer sacrifices of prayer and praise.
Š Every believer has the Spirit of God dwelling in him.
While we have pastors and teachers today, that we may grow in grace through the ministry of the Word, all believers know the Lord, pray to the Lord, and walk with the Lord. In Christ, we are kings and priests unto God (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22).
“I will be merciful to their unrighteousness.” — This refers to our sin. All unrighteousness is sin. The phrase tells us that God will forgive our sins (1 John 1:8-10). God will pardon freely those who are reconciled to him in Christ. This forgiveness of sin more than an act of mercy. It is an act of justice. Christ has paid for our sins (1 John 2:1-2).
One last thing. Look at verse 13, and learn this. — The old, carnal, legal covenant is gone forever!
Hebrews 8:13 “3In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
The establishing of the new covenant, was the abolishment of the Levitical covenant. It served its day and purpose; but it is now taken away, never to be used again. As a garment rots and vanishes away, so that old garment of law and works has been put away forever (Galatians 5:1-6).
Galatians 5:1-6 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
10th — Go back to Jeremiah 31. In verses 35-40, the prophet assures us, by the word of God given to him, of the absolute security of God’s covenant, all its promises, and all his covenant people.
Jeremiah 31:35-40 “Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: 36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. 37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. 38 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. 39 And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more forever.”