McKelvey locates Jeremiah’s teaching about the new covenant within chapters 30-33, the book of consolation. He claims that New Testament quotations of 31:31-34 are meant to evoke this entire section and that this whole section deals with the new covenant. Within this section, David is a central focus, which indicates that the new covenant “extends and fulfills the Davidic covenant” (193). Something similar can be said of the relationship between the Noahic and Abrahamic covenants to the new covenant. The Mosaic covenant is contrasted with the new covenant, being “the only nonpermanent covenant” among these covenants (194). This section also emphasizes the land promise and the restoration of Israel to the land. McKelvey sees an initial fulfillment of this aspect of the new covenant in the return from exile. McKelvey wishes to emphasize that the new covenant is connected to the previous covenants. Even though Jeremiah indicates that the new covenant “is not like the Mosaic covenant (3:32),” he stresses that “it achieves that to which the Mosaic administration typologically pointed” (197).
McKelvey also warns against Baptist readings of the now covenant, which he thinks are eschatologically overrealized. Specifically, he does not think that the statement that all in the covenant will know the Lord will be true until Christ returns. In contrast to the Baptist understanding of the new covenant, McKelvey argues that Jeremiah 32:39 demonstrates that the children of believers are included within the new covenant. Since children of believers are included in the new covenant, they should receive baptism, the sign of the new covenant.
McKelvey identifies Ezekiel 34:20-31 and 36:22-37:28 as the key new covenant texts in this prophet. In the first passage Ezekiel predicts that God will remove self-serving leaders and replace them with the Davidic Messiah (he notes again the close connection between the Davidic covenant and the new). The latter passage promises the Spirit, transformed hearts, restoration to the land, and the establishment of the Davidic king.
When he turns to Isaiah, McKelvey observes that the first part of the book contains numerous predictions of a coming Davidic king while the latter part of the book predicts a coming servant of the Lord. McKelvey identifies these figures and notes that this coming Messiah will bring about the new creation in fulfillment of the new covenant.
McKelvey’s chapter, especially the section on Jeremiah contains a great deal of helpful exegetical data. As a Baptist, I disagree that the holding that all new covenant members are regenerate and know the Lord over-realizes the eschatology of the covenant. To be sure there are eschatological aspects to the covenant that await fulfillment, such as the land promises. But that fact that everyone in the covenant knows the Lord is part of what makes the new covenant the new covenant.
McKelvey’s claim that Jeremiah 32:39 includes the unregenerate children of believers in the new covenant fails to take into account the context of this statement. Jeremiah 32:39 is a millennial promise. The Israelites referred to in this verse are gathered back not simply from Babylon or Persia but from “all the countries,” and they are made to “dwell in safety.” Furthermore, they will begiven “one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever.” Thus, the children spoken of here would be Israelite children born during the Millennium, and this verse would refer to all Israel being saved.