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I am posting this question on behalf of another user, and it corresponds to a related textual question.

Galatians 3:16 (KJV) says,

"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

This appears to be referring to the covenant made in Genesis 17:7. On this basis and others, some have concluded that this covenant was made to 'the Church', as St. Augustine would say, "The Israel of God"; they further cite the passage from Galatians 4:24 where Paul cites two covenants - the covenant at Mt. Sinai "which gendereth to bondage"; therefore, the Covenant w/Israel at Mt. Sinai is "bondage", and the New Covenant, which Paul quotes in Hebrews 8:9 from Jer. 31:33, has 'replaced' the Old Covenant in which they quote Hebrews 8:13 (KJV), "Decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." They conclude that this covenant indeed passed away in 70 CE, at the Destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem.

The meaning of 'olam' which is clear from the Genesis 17:7 text means 'everlasting', and yet it doesn't describe Heb. 8:13. Are we then to 'assume' that Israel's Covenant with God is not the same 'olam' (everlasting) as Gen. 17:7? Or how else can this be understood?

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closed as off-topic by Mr. Bultitude, Nathaniel, ThaddeusB, Lee Woofenden, curiousdannii Jan 13 at 22:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for the truth or validity of a particular doctrine or belief (aka Truth Questions), and questions asking Is X a Sin? are not a good fit for our site, due to their subjective nature, and the vast number of possible Christian opinions on such topics. See: We can't handle the truth" – Mr. Bultitude, Nathaniel, ThaddeusB, Lee Woofenden, curiousdannii
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This is so's an excellent question though. :) – Simply a Christian Dec 6 '13 at 3:16
@H3br3wHamm3r81 yes and I think it's a good fit here. I believe the user was discouraged by the response at BH.SE, and seemed to have trouble understanding the site's scopes. – Dan Dec 6 '13 at 3:21
What if the word 'covenant' in Genesis 17 does not mean 'deal' or 'compact' or 'agreement' but as Dr. A. Cohen asserts mean, "a statement of the plans which He had designed for Abram and his descendants"? Then the implication of Hebrews 8 if it applied to Genesis 17 is interesting as it means there had to be a change of plan. That God is a bit fickle. For that reason I believe the question is more suited to BH.SE. – gideon marx Dec 6 '13 at 9:44
@gideonmarx a corresponding question about the language was asked on BH.SE also, and is linked to in the question if you'd like to chime in. – Dan Dec 6 '13 at 20:36

My answer may not be extensive due to time restraints, but I think it's important to emphasize this main point.

The old covenant (Jer. 31:32), which the Israelites entered into at Sinai (Exo. 24:7), cannot be eternal because it never promised eternal life to the Israelites. Instead of eternal life, God (the other party of the covenant) promised that the Israelites would prolong their days on the earth (Deut. 4:40), that is, in the land of Canaan (Deut. 5:33), if they kept His commandments (i.e., His covenant). Because of their disobedience, the Israelites were exiled on several occasions, with the last exile culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. by the Roman army. That being said, if the days of the Israelites in Jerusalem were not prolonged...than how much less were they to receive eternal life? Again, the old covenant never promised eternal life.

That being said, there's no wonder why the author of the epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 8:6) says that Jesus Christ is the mediator of a "better covenant" (κρείττονός διαθήκης) established on "better promises" (κρείττοσιν ἐπαγγελίαις). Among these "better promises" is the promise of "the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began, but He manifested His word in due times by the preaching" (Tit. 1:2-3) which was committed to the apostles.

The old covenant cannot be eternal because those who enter the covenant are neither immortal nor are they promised immortality. They all must inevitably die (granted, there are one or two exceptions, but let's consider the general rule instead). Also, one should understand that once one party of a conditional, bilateral covenant dies, the entire covenant is rendered void for both parties (see the apostle's example of the marriage covenant in Rom. 7:2-3). Thus, whenever an Israelite dies, he is no longer a party to the old covenant; the old covenant is nullified with respect to him.

On the other hand, while those entering into the new covenant are mortal, they are promised eternal life upon their entrance into the covenant. Thus, the covenant endures eternally because the parties of the covenant, whether Jesus Christ or those who believe in, are or shall be immortal (possessing eternal life). On the one hand, they are promised eternal life by resurrection from the dead. But, on the other hand, all those who believe in Christ live with him (Rom. 6:8).

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@Dan: I see that I did not address some points, so I will make sure to return and address them in the near future. – Simply a Christian Dec 6 '13 at 5:23
Please adress Genesis 17 (not the other covenants) in your expanded answer and remember the modern state of Israel. Do not let that make nonsense of an otherwise good answer to a different question. – gideon marx Dec 6 '13 at 9:54
The key word here is covenant. A covenant is an agreement between God and certain people. much the same as what we know today as a treaty. A treaty with one country has no restrictions with another country not part of the treaty. Just as treaties can be broken by not adhering to the provisions so can a covenant. A covenant with God may be with either a single generation or multiple generations. or as in the case of Moses and others an individual person. – BYE Dec 6 '13 at 16:07
Not everyone agrees that your definition of covenant applies to Genesis 17. The Israelites did not get a country in exchange for their foreskins and the Arabs did not get oil for theirs. It is part of God's plan and it is ongoing and not dependent on what the Jews do or do not do. – gideon marx Dec 6 '13 at 17:50

You have asked a great question and in order to answer it we have to do some reexamining of the Covenants, and what actually each means and with whom they were made. So bear with me this going to be a bit long winded.

First Let's take them in the order in which each was made and with whom.

Genesis 17:7 KJV

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

This covenant which God made with Abraham, could also be extended to his posterity if they also kept the conditions of the covenant;

Gen 17:1 through 13 KJV

1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. <

This covenant has to do with the giving of the land to Abraham and his posterity and was conditioned by circumcision.

Jeremiah 31:33 KJV

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.

The key to this promise is in the preceding verse.

Jeremiah 31:32 KJV

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:

That covenant was:

Exodus 6:6 through 9

6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:

7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.

9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. <

Galatians 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

This is a reference to:

Gen 21:17 and 18 KJV

17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.

18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

Galatians 3:16 KJV

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

The point that was that God's covenant is not a cover all commitment, but actually extends to each individual God would not nullify his covenant with all of Israel because one individual was not circumcised.

Hebrews 8:9 KJV

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.

This is in reference to Exodus chapter 6 verses 6 through 9

Hebrews 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Here God is replacing his Old testament covenant we see in:

Psalms 50:5 KJV

Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

with this one, from the New Testament; which is eternal and with all people.

Hebrews 13:20 KJV

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,

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Wonderful, wonderful answer. This is why I like this site. Always something to learn. (I still hold my view that the rite of circumcision is not the covenant or even part of it but a token as the rainbow was a token of the covenant with Noah.) – gideon marx Dec 7 '13 at 8:24

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