Question:

So when God said: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD" (Jeremiah 31:31). Was it the same person or spirit who said that He never changes and never goes back on His word? Is there something from the Holy Bible that states that God never or does changes his mind?

Also, in Hebrews 8:13, it states: In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Note that it says "growing old is ready to vanish away". If it says "ready," doesn't that mean that although it was prepared to vanish and become obsolete, it hasn't become obsolete yet? Or is it saying that after God finished writing the New Testament, it was ready to be obsolete, and it became obsolete when He died on the Cross?

Oh, one last thing. Is the term "law" used to refer to the Old Testament or the New Testament or both? Is the term "commandment" used to refer to the Old Testament or the New Testament or both?

Thanks and may God bless you!


Answer:

There is only one source for the Bible. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God ..." (II Timothy 3:16). You can't play one writer off of another.

You are probably thinking of "For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob" (Malachi 3:6). This statement is typically taken out of context to say that God doesn't change His law. But a quick survey of the Old Testament shows that is not true.

  • "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them" (Genesis 6:5-7). From the creation to the days of Noah God went from pleased with His very good creation to sorry that He ever made man. God does have a change of heart.
  • "Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine" (Numbers 3:12). God changed His law regarding who in Israel would be his priests.
  • "So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people" (Exodus 32:14). God changed His mind about destroying Israel. He also changed His mind about destroying Nineveh. "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it" (Jonah 3:10).

Therefore, we need to look at the context of Malachi 3 to see in what way God said He does not change.

"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, as in former years. And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien -- because they do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts. "For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "But you said, 'In what way shall we return?'" (Malachi 3:2-7).

In context we realize that God is declaring that His nature does not change. He rewards the righteous and destroys the wicked. People had been assuming that because God had not destroyed them that He had accepted their wicked or no longer cared. But God warns that He does not change His mind about the righteous and the wicked.

The statement is no different than what we find in Peter:

"Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:1-9).

God's patience should never be interpreted as acceptance. God holds off to allow people to change, but His nature does not change. "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22).

Still, the point remains that God said He was changing His covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33). God always keeps His Word. It is people today who are trying to say that God changed His mind about the Old Law and it wasn't meant to go away.

"In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13).

The quote "A new covenant" is from Jeremiah 31:31. The writer of Hebrews' point is that when Jeremiah said that, it declared at that time the law of Moses to be obsolete, growing old and ready to vanish. In other words, the fact that the law was changing was something the Jews had know about for over 500 years. It was declared "old" by God 500 years before the New Law of Christ was introduced.

"Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another -- to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God" (Romans 7:4).

"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-16).

"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).

God is clear that the change in law occurred with Jesus' death on the cross.

The terms law, commandment, testimony, statutes, etc. are all synonyms. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalms 19:7-10). This psalm is about one thing, not six things. It is six views of the same thing.

What God commands is His law, His commandment, His judgment, His statute, and His testimony. The same terms describe both the Old and the New Law. Which is being referred depends on the context.

"For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). This passage is not hard to figure out that "law" is referring to the Old Testament. But in "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2), "law" clearly refers to the New Testament. Thus, you have passages, such as "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2) where the first "law" refers to the New Testament and the second "law" refers to the Old Testament.