31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
The coming of the Messiah was not something that God planned after the Old Covenant failed; the Messiah’s coming was something God planned from the very beginning (Genesis 3:15). Jeremiah, along with the other prophets saw the coming of the Messiah, and they knew that a New Covenant would be ushered in by God. They knew that this was gospel, or good news, to the people of Israel. They knew that the Messiah would be the fulfillment of God’s plan for the whole world.
The promise of the Old Covenant was for Israel, but the promise of the New Covenant is for all people! In this passage, Jeremiah is directly speaking to Israel. However, in Hebrews 8:10 this exact passage is applied to all the church. We also know that Gentiles will not be excluded from the promise of the New Covenant, as Galatians 3:7 tells us, “Understand that those who have faith are Abraham’s sons.” Anyone, from any place, language, or tribe, is able to be saved through the New Covenant that Christ Jesus inaugurated.
When God gave the commandments to Moses, He wrote them on tablets of stone, but in the New Covenant, God promises to write the law on our hearts. Ezekiel speaks of the New Covenant like this: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). The New Covenant is a promise that God will change His people’s hearts so that obedience is our natural response instead of rebellion.
• Based on this passage, what is the difference between the Old and the New Covenant?
• If Israel was already His people, why would the Lord say, “I will be their God, and they will be my people”? Have we yet seen the day when “they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest”?
• Thank God for sending His Son to usher in the New Covenant. Thank Him for preserving the witness of the prophets for us in His Word. Ask Him to help you be bold to declare the beauty of the New Covenant to an unbelieving generation as the prophets did before.