1 MORE Promises for the Journey Study SIXTEEN: The NEW Covenant Jeremiah and Ezekiel I Day ONE: Introduction Read Jeremiah 30:1-3; 31:15-37; Ezekiel 36:8-31; John Each of the 12 Minor Prophets have revealed facts about God s promised Messiah from within his own particular historical and cultural context. Each led by the Holy Spirit, they tell about the promised seed who is yet to come to Israel s defense and deliverance. It is now good to remind ourselves how three Major Prophets - Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel (whose book we studied) prophesy of Jerusalem s downfall, Judah s exile and the ultimate downfall of Gentile world powers at the same time they celebrate God s PROMISES! Daniel was taken with the Royal Princes to Babylon in 605 and lived in the context of a Gentile government. His prophecies showed the ultimate victory of the Son of Man! Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in 597 B.C. (final group) and prophesied to the exiles of the future State of Israel and how the Spirit of God would someday capture the hearts of the nation! In all three cases, in spite of Israel s apostasy, HOPE for the apostate nation of Israel is predicted and only realized in the person of the Christ. II Day TWO: The NEW Covenant PROMISES from Jeremiah Jeremiah, a priest from Anathoth was commanded not to marry and served as prophet to the Southern Kingdom under the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. From B.C., Judah knew a period of storm and stress from the countries of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. Josiah and Jeremiah were kindred spirits and enabled a reformation movement that ignited great trust in the Lord. Sadly, Josiah s sons hated Jeremiah and the words he prophesied. Jeremiah was never taken to Babylon but taken to Egypt with the Jerusalem Remnant. His prophecies bring hope by offering the NEW and Expanded Covenant Yahweh would bring. The middle section of his book speaks prophecies of judgment and comfort (Second Book: 25-45). Jeremiah, hated by good King Josiah s sons, wrote from Judah of the fall of Jerusalem. In the Book of Comfort, Jeremiah teaches us the heart of OT theology: he urged the remnant still in Jerusalem to remain, and God s righteous judgment would not destroy them. They refused, and taking Baruch and Jeremiah, they left for Egypt. Ezekiel, taken in 597 B.C. to Babylon, writes to the captives about God s broken heart over the violation of the Temple and the future promises of hope for Israel! Both tell of another unconditional Covenant: the NEW (Spirit) Covenant. 1. The judgment of God came on Israel because of their many sins (Jeremiah 7:1-28 the list includes apostasy as the children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire and the women knead the dough to offer cakes to the queen of heaven as well as pouring out offerings to other gods!). The consequences of being cast out of the sight of the Lord (v. 15) could fill the Jewish heart with hopelessness. What amazing thing will God do as recorded in Jer. 30:1-3 about days that are coming? I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah...and bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers.
2 2. Chapters carry a detailed list of blessings on the Jews as well as the Gentile nations. What does the Lord promise Israel and Judah through Jeremiah in 31:31-37? a. When will it happen? (v. 31a, 33a) in the coming days and after those days (this term is used in a number of passages to imply the time in the future that follows the great tribulation! b. What is it called? (v. 31b) I will make a NEW COVENANT c. Who is it made with? (v. 31c) with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. (notice that this is a description of the DIVIDED Monarchy when the boms went off!) d. How does it differ to the Mosaic Covenant? (v. 32) as opposed to the old covenant made with the fledgling nation at Sinai called the Mosaic Covenant though they broke it and though the LORD, like a husband, remained faithful e. What will the LORD do after those days? (v. 33b, c) after those days I will put my law in them and I will write it on their hearts: I will be their God (as opposed to the idols of the pagans) and they will be my people (as opposed to those wandering and lusting after other gods) f. How will they relate to each other? (v. 34a) they will speak to one another in Psalms and Songs and spiritual songs the word within, they will be able to speak to each other and they will all KNOW the LORD! g. What is the best news of this Covenant? (v. 34b) they will know FORGIVENESS by thee LORD since He will forgive AND forget their iniquities, not counting them against them. (THE PROOF of the LORD s faithfulness with the NEW COVENANT to Israel and Judah is based on the way He has ordained CREATION: if the FIXED order of the sun and moon and stars departs from the LORD S control, Israel will cease to be His nation. Since the order of things is under HIS command, so will the keeping of the NC be!) BUMPS on the ROAD: In spite of Jeremiah s warnings and final call to King Zedekiah (ch. 52) to submission, the king refuses. God s prophecies of judgment through Jeremiah come true, as does the promise of a new day for God s people! What is the necessary promise to be kept to deal with the giant BUMP that plagued Israel mentioned in Jer. 51:60-64? How does Rev. 18:1-3 confirm this? EXILE into Babylon will come to an end and BABLYON herself will be judged and fall. As JEREMIAH was commanded to cast a stone into the Euphrates and it would sink, so BABYLON SHALL SINK, to RISE NO MORE. The cry in Revelation is Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great! MAPQUEST: How would Jeremiah s description of the New Covenant bring hope to those exiled to Babylon or taken to Egypt to still believe in the Lord s Word? What in Jeremiah s description of the New Covenant promises, reminds you of any Gospel truths? What truths give you hope in these days of uncertainty? The exiles needed to know there was life after the exile. They needed to know that the WORD of the LORD Jeremiah, God s chosen prophet was not making up platitudes; he was speaking the Word of the LORD that came with a certain promise. His description of the New Covenant is the OT way of describing the GOSPEL coming to Israel as a nation to all who would receive the Messiah. The truth of the coming of the Lord (in terms of the NT description, John 14:1 ) gives us hope in spite of serious and uncertain times.
3 III Day THREE: The SPIRIT Covenant: PROMISES from Ezekiel Living during a time of international upheaval, Ezekiel, another priest-prophet was brought to Babylon with the second group of exiles from Judah. Ezekiel was called by God to serve the exiles in Babylon, faithfully relaying to them the harsh words of God s judgment on Jerusalem and upon seven enemies of Israel. These words were followed by the consoling word of hope for dead bones: Israel would experience revival, restoration and have a glorious future because of God s Spirit-Covenant! 1. All of Ezekiel 36 describes the future restoration of Israel. How does Ez. 36:22-23 summarize the reason for Israel s demise? For what reason does the Lord promise hope and blessing to her? Israel had PROFANED the holy name of the Lord, among the nations of the earth. The LORD will vindicate His HOLY name. He will let the nations KNOW for this reason: so they will KNOW that the LORD, He is God and it will be through the nation of Israel!!! 2. Describe how the Lord says He will do this based on Ez. 36: Make note of the specific internal promises the Lord says He will do for His nation: a. V. 24 a & b I will TAKE you from among the nations (Israel had been scattered and would continue to be) and GATHER her from all the countries and bring her into her own land! This is a specific COVENANT promise to Abraham and to David! b. V. 25 a & b I will sprinkle you with CLEAN water so your uncleanness will be washed clean from idolatry and YOU will be clean! c. V. 26 a & b I will GIVE you a NEW HEART, a NEW SPIRIT and REMOVE your heart of stone from your FLESH. d. V. 27 a & b I will PUT my SPIRIT within you and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes and OBEY me. e. v. 28 YOU shall DWELL in the land I gave to your fathers and YOU shall be my people and I WILL BE YOUR GOD! BUMPS on the ROAD: Daniel was taken with the Royal Princes to Babylon in 605 (first captivity), eight years earlier than Ezekiel. Unlike Ezekiel who lived among the exiles, Daniel rose to great power in a Gentile government. His prophecies showed the ultimate victory of the Son of Man over the Gentile nations. Why is it essential for the seed of the woman to crush the rulers of the world in real time? What bumps are obvious in our world today that only the Christ can solve? The RAGING nations must know IN TIME AND SPACE that CHRIST is God and the JEWISH MESSIAH is the seed of the woman who has the AUTHORITY by virtue of His PERSON and His WORK, to crush them so they will submit to One who is the Son. MAPQUEST: One of the important lessons from the Major Prophets is that God provides HOPE for His people. In Hebrews 11:1-3 the writer takes the time to go back to God s people of faith. What was at the heart of their HOPE according to these verses in spite of the terrible atrocities they suffered? (v ) In what ways have you come to HOPE in God through faith despite trials? The truth at the HEART of their HOPE is that the Prophets did their task in carrying the message of Yahweh to the fathers so that the One the Father sent in the last days would be obvious and evident as: the SON whom has been appointed HEIR of all things.
4 There is no HOPE apart from the GRACE of GOD in sending the Messiah, born of flesh yet God. I believed in Him in 1957 that God had raised the crucified One from death! His death paid for my sin; His raised life promises me the HOPE of a resurrection body lived eternally! IV Day FOUR: PREPARING for the Seed Even when things grew dark and the Kingdom of Judah was wiped out, the Holy Spirit is faithful to give us a glimpse of HOPE on how the Lord would carry out His plan to bring the seed. At this point, it is important to prepare our minds for the event that will silence God s deafening silence of 400 years. There are three prophecies/promises in the OT that describe the plan that will take place. Take the time to read what the nation of Israel should have recognized in the man called John the Baptist. Next week, we will look at God s man in detail; today, catch the picture of him and realize that all four Gospels refer to them. What should Israel know about the forerunner of Messiah? 1. Isaiah 40:1-8 (all four gospels refer to this: Mt. 3:1-3; Mk. 1:2; Lk. 3:4; Jn. 1:23) - What will he be like? The Spirit in v. 1 says Comfort, comfort my people and speak tenderly to Jerusalem because the WARFARE is ended and her SIN is forgiven (notice that a PRESENT tense spoken of PAST truth for the FUTURE describes a NEW beginning). The FORERUNNER will be a VOICE crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD. Make straight the way of the LORD. Everything valleys, mountains, uneven roads will be straightened so God s GLORY will be revealed just as the mouth of the LORD has spoken. This is what the forerunner will do: prepare the nation for the coming of the SEED. We know this speaks about the One John called the LAMB of God : salvation is coming. (Christ s first coming) 2. Malachi 3:1 (the last prophet writing the last OT book 420 B.C. Jesus Himself refers to this verse) - What purpose will his life serve? The MESSENGER will be SENT to PREPARE the way before me and then the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple the following description is speaking about One who is a JUDGE a REFINER and sit and purify the sons of Levi so the priests will offer righteously to the LORD and please the LORD as in the old days. Christ s FUTURE salvation coming to Zion to the NATION. (the second coming when He comes in Judgment) 3. Malachi 4:5-6 (Luke 1:17 repeats these last two verses in the OT; they also imply a distant future hope!) - Four hundred years of silence would intervene before this promise would be fulfilled. In which prophet s likeness will John finally come? Elijah will be SENT before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. This is an example of John coming in the spirit of Elijah (near future) as well as one of the two witnesses in Rev. 11:4-13 where one of these two olive trees/lampstands bears witness to God s judgment and is killed, lays in the streets for 3 days until God brings them back to life and they are caught up. All prior to the coming of MESSIAH To this day, Jewish families set an extra place setting at their Seder meals for Elijah, awaiting this promise to occur. He HAS come and He WILL come again!
5 BUMPS on the ROAD: The verses above are important in that they establish the connection between the OT and NT because John is a transitional figure between the two. He unites two ages together: the last of the OT type prophets and the first of the NT prophets. MAPQUEST: Perhaps one of the most overlooked servants of God would be John the Baptist. In most references to him he is seen as serving the needs of others including those listening to him ( a voice to be heard, a messenger who serves and compared to Elijah in power). Filled with the Spirit from before birth, how does John s humility achieve the purposes of God as explained in James 4:5-6 and 1 Peter 5:5. How have you learned to live humbly among all types of people? What is so divisive and destructive about pride? One verse we will look at next week the captures John the Baptist s heart to serve and prepare the way: HE must INCREASE; I must DECREASE. James talks about humility and John as the forerunner, whose young life is cut short because people didn t like his message, reminds us that God opposes the proud but gives GRACE to the humble! Had John been proud or competing with Jesus, John would not have been able to carry off his job so well! A forerunner is just a forerunner, nothing more and God used him as one coming in the power of Elijah not his own power or attention techniques. John s clothing was strange (camel hair) but his inner clothing was beautiful! Humility same point by Peter: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. God USED John the Baptist and did not oppose him though the leaders of the nation despised him! (After all, he DID call the a brood of vipers!) V Day FIVE: Meditation and Memorization In preparation for next week s lesson, consider John the Apostle s description of John the Baptist and his place in history concerning Israel s promised seed of the woman! who will finally arrive on planet earth. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. John 1:6-10 Other passages worth considering: Jer. 9:23-24, 17:7-8.