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Isaiah 24:5 "The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting covenant". NKJV

Psalm 119:126 "It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void".

Also Psalm 119:126. Hebrew Text Analysis- Bible Hub. heperu, "they have regarded as void".

  1. If an everlasting covenant were broken would it be everlasting?

  2. In Isaiah 24:5 is the everlasting covenant really broken, or just broken in their imagination because they lacked faith, but for God it is not broken and it is what God thinks that counts as to whether it is broken or not?

In Genesis 15:17-19 "the LORD made a covenant"..."I have given this land" and symbols of God alone pass through the animal pieces. Since God alone keeps this covenant mankind cannot break it. Through unbelief it might appear to some that God had forgotten it. i.e. regarded it as void.

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New King James Version Isaiah 24:5

The earth      is also defiled under its inhabitants, 
Because they   have transgressed    the laws, 
               Changed              the ordinance, 
               Broken the           everlasting covenant.

The parallelism shows that the word "broken" means "transgressed" in the sense of "vilolated".

and broken
הֵפֵ֖רוּ (hê·p̄ê·rū)
Verb - Hifil - Perfect - third person common plural
Strong's 6565: To break up, to violate, frustrate

Elsewhere, Jesus said in John 10:

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),

The Law can be violated but cannot be re-written. In the former sense, it can be broken; in the latter sense, it cannot be broken. The Hebrew, Greek, and even English allow this range of meanings.

Psalm 119:126 New International Version

It is time for you to act, LORD; your law is being broken.

New King James Version

It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void.

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  • It appears to me that you have shown why in Psalm 119:126 it could be "broken" or "regarded as void", but what about Isaiah 24:5 is there no possibility of "regarded as void" in Isaiah 24:5?
    – C. Stroud
    Aug 6 at 16:48
  • Right, "broken" and "void" is not interchangeable everywhere. Each translator would consider the context and decide. I find it beneficial to consult different versions. Biblehub.com is good for that.
    – Tony Chan
    Aug 6 at 16:54
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The everlasting covenant that God made with the Israelites also included:

  • Promises of blessings for obedience: Lev 26:1-13, Deut 28:1-14
  • Curses for disobedience: Lev 26:14-39, Deut 28:15-68

The fact that Israel so conspicuously disobeyed meant that they rejected the covenant. This does NOT make the the covenant less than everlasting because when the Jews rejected God, God found more people who would keep the covenant promises.

This occurred on three historic occasions:

  • The first time when the northern kingdom of Israel was finally taken into captivity by the Assyrians and disappeared from history in about 722 BC
  • The southern kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity by Babylon in about 586 BC
  • At the cross. According to Heb 8:7, 8, 9, the New Covenant was created, not because the Old was defective but because the people (literal Israelites) did not understand, rejected the old covenant and a New Covenant was made with new people, Christians, who accept the promises by faith. Jesus made the same point in Matt 21:43, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” See also Gal 3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise”. Paul makes the same point in Rom 9:6-9, 11:11-22 where the old covenant was not revoked (it was immutable, Jer 31:35-37) but Christians, people of faith, were grafted into the original “olive tree”. This is also confirmed by Eph 2:12 where Paul discusses Gentiles being absorbed into spiritual Israel becoming part of the ancient covenant promises, all by faith.

That the Jews rejected the Israelite Covenant is amply seen in their actions at Jesus crucifixion when the Jews shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" "Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked. "We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered. John 19:15.

Thus, while the Covenant with Israel is eternal, the membership of is entirely voluntary - see appendix below. Paul succinctly stated:

  • Rom 9:6, 8 - It is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. ... So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.

This has always been the case (see appendix below). Thus, the covenant remains eternal but the people can be rejected and replaced with other exactly as Paul discusses in Rom 11 - gentiles being grafted into the tree stump of Israel. All Christians now form what has always been, "spiritual Israel". "All Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26).

APPENDIX - Membership of Israel

Indeed, the Old Testament contains many examples of foreigners becoming part of Israel, indicating that the Israelite Covenant was open to all and was never exclusive. For example:

  • Abraham’s own household must have consisted of perhaps 2000 people just to be able to raise an army of 318 men to liberate Lot, Gen 14:14. Indeed, Abraham’s chief servant (from Damascus) was clearly a believer and very devout as shown in Gen 24.
  • When Jacob entered Egypt, his family numbered 75 people (Acts 7:14, Ex 1:5). Some of these were not direct descendants of Abraham such as the wives of the 12 patriarchs, notably Joseph’s own wife. 215 years and four generations later at the exodus, Israel’s army had over 600,000 men, excluding women and children, (Ex 12:37, Num 1:46, etc) suggesting a total population of several million people, requiring many additions. This included a significant mixed multitude (Ex 12:38) showing that Israel obviously consisted of many non-biological Jews had joined. (Note that it is biologically impossible for Israelite numbers to have grown from 75 to several million biologically without many outside additions.)
  • Moses married a Midianite (Ex 2:16-21) also known as a Cushite. Miriam and Aaron were severely reprimanded and punished for displaying racism (Num 12:1, 2)
  • Caleb, who represented and led the tribe of Judah was a Kennizite (Num 32:12).
  • Rahab was a Canaanite (Josh 2:1, 2, Matt 1:5)
  • Ruth was Moabite (Ruth 1:4 16, 17, Matt 1:5) – these last two make King David descended from foreigners (Ruth 4:13-16).
  • Uriah was a Hittite (2 Sam 11:3)
  • King David’s elite personal regiment was Gittite, Philistines (2 Sam 15:18-22, 1 Chron 18:17)
  • Isa 56:6, 7 - And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD to minister to Him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be His servants— all who keep the Sabbath without profaning it and who hold fast to My covenant—I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” See also V3.
  • The Rechabites were Kenites (Jer 35:1-19)
  • Many other foreigners lived in Israel (1 Chron 22:2, 17, 2 Chron 30:25)
  • In Esther’s time “many of the people of the land became Jews” (Esther 8:17, 9:27)
  • Even in NT times, many Jewish synagogues were attended by godly gentiles converted to Judaism (Acts 13:16, 26, 16:14, 17:17)
  • Many Jewish proselytes came to worship in Jerusalem (John 20:20, Acts 2:9-11)
  • Jesus quotes Isa 56:7, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations”, Mark 11:17.
  • Further, biological Israelites could opt out of the covenant and be cut-off (Ex 30:33, 38, 31:14, Lev 7:20, 21, 25, 27). Thus, it is abundantly clear that membership of Israel was always open to all and voluntary.

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