31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
In these couple of verses, we read about a new beginning God promised. God was about to make a New Covenant with His people. This New Covenant was expressly for the house of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and the house of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). It would not be like the covenant God had made with Israel’s forefathers at the time of the Exodus because that covenant had been broken by the people (cf. 11:1–8). The earlier covenant God referred to was the Mosaic Covenant contained in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Twice God had announced a series of punishments or “curses” that would be invoked on those who violated His Law (Lev. 26; Deut. 28). The final judgment would be a physical deportation from the land of Israel. With the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 b.c. this final “curse” was completed. God had set a holy standard of conduct before the people, but because of their sinful hearts they could not keep those standards. A change was needed. So, as a result, God’s New Covenant will involve an internalization of His Law. He will put His Law in their minds and on their hearts, not just on stones (Ex. 34:1). There will be no need to exhort people to know the Lord because they will already all know God (cf. Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14). God’s New Covenant will give Israel the inner ability to obey His righteous standards and thus to enjoy His blessings. Ezekiel indicated that this change will result from God’s bestowal of the Holy Spirit on these believers (cf. Ezek. 36:24–32). In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit did not universally indwell all believers. Thus, one different aspect of the New Covenant is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers (cf. Joel 2:28–32).
And the amazing part of the New Covenant is, it’s not only available to the Israelites, but also to us today. With the help of the Holy Spirit we now have the inner ability to obey God’s righteous standards and to trust and believe the promises in the Bible.
Thoughts for the day
- What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
- What does this passage tell you about humanity?
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
- Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.
Stop and pray for someone who is near to you right now, someone you can see.