In this portion of his book Jeremiah offers comfort for the forsaken people of Israel. In Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah spoke of the “plans I have for you” that included God’s “plans to prosper you and … plans to give you hope and a future.” This portion of Jeremiah’s writing is correctly referred to as the book of comfort for a people who know all too well that the cycle of “blessing-complacency-oppression-repentance-restoration” has been repeated throughout history and will continue in the future. Something drastic must to be done to interrupt this cycle and place the people in a secure position. As the writer of Hebrews says,
“If there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people.” – Hebrews 8:7-8
The promise of a new covenant found within the Old Covenant indicated that something was wrong!
Jeremiah, the prophet, addressed this issue and gave the people comfort when he foretold them of a New Covenant. Jeremiah had reminded his listeners of the terms of the Old Covenant in Jeremiah 7:23. Then in Jeremiah 24-26 the problem is explained: evil hearts and stiff necks. God found fault not with the Old Covenant, but with the people.
In Jeremiah 11:1-8 in the year 622 BC Jeremiah tried to call the people back to their covenant. Jeremiah then watched in 621 BC as Josiah tried to force the people in a revival back to the covenant. Josiah knew God. Jeremiah knew God. But, the people did not. A relationship with
God and an obedient heart cannot be forced!
So, now Jeremiah 31:31, in the year 587 BC, after thirty-five years of watching the Old Covenant fail, Jeremiah is promised a New Covenant by the Lord.
Promise Number One: “I will put my laws in their minds.”
The New Covenant will not depend on memorization as in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. The people planned on being obedient (Ex.24:7). The problem was not the law but the weak flesh and sin nature as in Romans 8:3
Ezekiel had already spoken in a similar fashion in the year 592 BC when he says in Ezekiel 11:17-20:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered and I will give you back the land of Israel again… I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
Promise Number Two: “They will all know me.”
This was a matter of personal experience. In Judges 2:10 the generation that came into the land produced a generation that did not know the Lord. In Hosea 4:1, 6 there was no knowledge of God in the land and disaster was coming. This promise includes every member of the society knowing God. This puts God on a one to one relationship with everyone. No one will be hearing about God second handed.
Promise Number Three: “I will remember their sins no more.”
“Remember” in Hebrew means more than to mentally recall something. It means to follow that recall with action either good or bad. God remembers sins and punishes them or He remembers good deeds and rewards them. Even in Exodus 34:6-10 God is merciful and forgiving.
There is positional sanctification. But, temporal sanctification is also needed.
Jesus spoke of his death and his blood being the blood that secured this New Covenant:
“After the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ ” – Luke 22:20
Hebrews 9-10 identify three things that result from Christ’s sacrifice:
- Cleanse our conscience (9:14)
- We may approach God since we have been made holy (10:10)
- We have become a people made perfect (10:14)
Hebrews 8 identifies these three things as the fulfillment of the promises of the New Covenant:
- Laws on our hearts (new nature, cleansed conscience) 8:10
- They will all know me (personal relationship, approach God) 8:11
- Remember sins no more (delivered from sin, made holy or set apart) 8:12