“Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”—the Lord’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.”
As God, through Jeremiah, promises the return of the people of Israel to their promised land, He also looks ahead to a new level of relationship that He will enjoy with them and they with Him. God makes the promise of a new covenant that will be substantially different than the covenant He made with the people of Israel through Moses. The Babylonian captivity and fall of Jerusalem demonstrated the weakness of the old covenant. It wasn’t weak because God was weak. It was weak because it required people’s repeated external compliance to its laws and rituals but it rarely touched their hearts. The people of Israel had broken this covenant again and again. This weakness did not mean God didn’t know what He was doing at first, He just needed to work through human history to bring us to a place that the new covenant was possible.
Instead of being dependant on external laws to control behavior, the new covenant would be internalized through a direct relationship with God. He promises that, in the new covenant, His teachings will be written on the hearts of His people and not simply on a stone tablet or scrolls. This doesn’t negate the importance of the old covenant because the old covenant still shows us the heart of God as He interacted with Israel throughout history. In many ways, it lays a foundation for the new covenant. Now, though, God, through the Holy Spirit, offers His people the opportunity for more direct communication with Him.
In many ways, the new covenant will look back to a time before the law was given to Israel through Moses. The new covenant will bring us back to the type of relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with God as they walked and talked with Him in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden. The new covenant promises this level of direct contact between God and His people.
We live in the age of this new covenant. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, we have been invited into this life of direct relationship and communication with God. Though we should look back on the old covenant to help us understand how God worked through history, through Jesus, we have a fuller and more complete picture of God and, through the Holy Spirit, we are able to receive guidance directly from Him for how we should live our lives in relationship with Him daily.
- Are you trusting God to walk with you in a direct relational covenant with Him?