For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
For he finds fault with them when he says:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
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.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbour
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Comment: At the beginning and the end of this passage, speaking about covenants, we are told to expect the new and that the old is now obsolete.
Jeremiah lived about 600 years before Jesus was born. He was a prophet in the captured city of Jerusalem. Babylonians were in charge. The people of the city were still not obeying God’s commands. The first covenant written on stone at Mt Sinai never really entered into their heads, that is, neither into their thinking nor into their hearts i.e. loving and obeying. So, through Jeremiah, God gives a foresight of what His New Covenant would be.
Because prophesies were looking a long way into the future, even to the end of time, we need to understand that their fulfilment may be in a stepwise fashion. With Jesus coming and establishing this New Covenant, we see this covenant in place but we do not see it completely fulfilled. We have the knowledge which comes with the coming of the promised Messiah. We have a completed Bible to read, take to heart, and it should control our thinking and our actions. There hasn’t been a change in God’s standards, but now we do not have to work for our salvation. Forgiveness is possible, and now we are to act by Christ’s law, the New Law which comes with the New Covenant. But we await the complete fulfilment in every detail of the promise until Jesus returns. Thus the prophet saw both the coming and the coming again of Jesus. The covenant is in place and a reality but awaits a final denouement. The remainder of the book expands on both the New Covenant and the new law.
Prayer: Help me to be both obedient and Patient, O Lord.