Jeremiah 31: The New Covenant
Although Jeremiah began this book speaking more about the immediate prophecies regarding the Babylonian captivity, we now move on to a New Covenant.
Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jer 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
This type of terminology is probably familiar to most of us. Jesus referred to the New Covenant in His blood at the Last Supper. This particular passage is also paraphrased in Hebrews 8.
I think that it might be wise to consider the nature of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, the Jewish people had to obey numerous regulations. For example, the 10 Commandments were written down on stone tablets, and they were laws that the people had to follow in order to fulfill their end of the covenant.
In verse 32, it is obvious that people had broken it. Nobody could perfectly fulfill the Law. Because of that, they violated their end of the agreement. After all, a covenant has two parts.
The New Covenant is going to be something different. It is no longer defined by adherence to external laws, but it is written on the hearts of the people. It is a total shift in perspective. Previously, fallen people were trying to follow a set of laws that they could not follow on their own. It was practically impossible to adhere perfectly with all of the Old Testament laws. For example, we are told not to covet, but if you have even coveted one time (I know I have), you have not followed the directions perfectly. God did not leave them without a system to cover over these transgressions, but my main point here is that that system was necessary because nobody could adhere to the laws perfectly.
The new system still involved fallen people. Sin nature did not disappear. However, the fallen people who were under the New Covenant were going to have the law of God written on the inside of them. That is where the transformation comes from. Through the transformation of the heart through the power of God, the law becomes part of who we are. We become conformed to the image of God through Him working in us. It is no longer based upon our own efforts in trying to conform to the rules that we cannot perfectly follow. By grace we have been saved through faith.