From Jeremiah 30-31
Jeremiah 31 contains another famous prophecy. In this passage the LORD says he will make a new covenant with his people. A far superior covenant.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
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. (Jer 31:31–32)
The LORD declares he will make a new covenant with both Israel and Judah. The fact that the LORD will make a new covenant to Israel and Judah implies he will bring them together again. The LORD recalls their common heritage. Through the LORD’s faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham and Moses he brought Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land. This is the same covenant they broke when they abandoned the LORD, pursued other gods and disobeyed his covenant law.
Jeremiah now goes on to explain the new covenant and distinguish it from the first.
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. (Jer 31:33)
The LORD will put his law within his people and write it on their hearts. Previously the law was written on stone, on papyrus. No more. Every one of the LORD’s people will have it engraved on their hearts. The centre of their being. This is clearly superior.
How do you know if God’s law is written on someones heart?
They will all know it. It will give internal awareness of right and wrong. It will convict them of sin and encourage them in righteousness.
The LORD then says he shall be their God and they his people. In doing so he points towards a redefinition of his people. From those who possess the law written on stone and paper. To those who have it on their hearts.
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.” (Jer 31:34)
Previously not all Israel knew the LORD. Thus they had to be told about him and reminded because they forgot. This is self evident from the way they lived and they fact they rejected him as their god.
When the LORD fulfills this promise, those who are his people will all know him. They won’t have to be reminded again and again. They will pursue and seek him because the LORD will be with them.
Jeremiah associates this first and foremost with forgiveness. Ongoing and continued sin separates people from God. When God forgives sin he initiates the relationship. Through this new found relationship, this intimate knowing they will pursue him.
How do you know you have been forgiven?
The LORD gives an illustration to show his commitment to this promise.
35 Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name:
36 “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”
37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.” (Jer 31:35-37)
So long as the world as we know it exists, the LORD will look after Israel. We are meant to assume the world as we know it will continue for a long long time. This is quite an amazing promise. If people can measure the heavens and the foundations of the earth the LORD will not forgive Israel. Once again, its not likely people will have the ability to do this anytime soon. I’m sure the people of Israel would have been comforted by this.
38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.” (Jer 31.38-40)
The LORD promises never again to punish Israel as he did. These promises must be tied to the original promise of writing his law on the peoples hearts and that fact that all of them will know him. The fulfillment of these promises will have eternal consequences. He will never let these people go or punish them as he did Israel.
Story of Israel
The people of Israel waited for these promises to be fulfilled. But for many years they werent. They still needed to be reminded of the law of Moses. There were still people who turned away from the LORD and who needed others to encourage them to know him.
Story of Jesus
A few hundred years later the promises of Jeremiah 31 are repeated again in Hebrews 10. Jesus died, rose again and soon afterward the Spirit was poured out on his people.
12 when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Heb 10.12-18)
The author of Hebrews knows the promises of Jeremiah 31 have been fulfilled in Jesus’ death and through the ministry of the Spirit. And he goes on to encourage his listeners with a series of encouragements and instructions.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and ball the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10.19-25)
As one of my old mentors used to say – “We’ve found a lettuce patch in the midst of Hebrews”.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.