The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31
Can you take a few minutes to read about an amazing Jewish prophecy?
You may be surprised to know, but way back in the Hebrew Bible, 600 years before Jesus was born, the Jewish prophet Jeremiah said God would make a New Covenant with Israel. Here is what he wrote:
"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah chapter 31 verses 31-34)
What do we notice about the New Covenant God promised?
First, God makes the covenant, not man. We must approach God the way He determines, not our own way. After all, He created us!
Second, this covenant is for the house of Israel and the house of Judah. The New Covenant is a very Jewish book! It was written by Jews and for Jews. True, God graciously expanded the promise to include the Gentiles, but originally the first New Covenant believers were all Jewish! That's why Rabbi Saul, also known as the Apostle Paul, wrote: "I am not ashamed of the good news of Messiah. It is the power of God to save people from their sins, for everyone who has faith, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)
Third, it is different from the covenant made "with their fathers" when Israel was taken out of Egypt. God told Israel beforehand He would change the covenant. The basic idea stays the same: turning from sin and trusting in God. The externals change. There is no longer a need for the Temple sacrifices or the outward laws of impurity, such as the kosher laws. Messiah came as the final and ultimate sacrifice for all time. True purity is a matter of the heart. We are still to keep the moral commandments of the Torah, but the New Covenant, Jeremiah said, would be a matter of the heart. God would put the essence of the Torah in the hearts of his people.
Fourth, God promised forgiveness of sin. Sin is when we disobey God's commandments, and we all have done that! After all, Torah says to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves! No one has obeyed that perfectly, other than the Messiah himself!
Finally, God promised that through this New Covenant the whole world would come to know Him. We see this in process today as people around the world, Jews and Gentiles, are coming to embrace God's New Covenant! Around the world millions are coming to faith in the God of Israel each year!
What is the basic message of the Bible, and particularly, the New Covenant?
1. God created us in his image to be holy and perfect. We were designed to live forever with him. Death was not a part of the original state of things. (See the first three chapters of Genesis.)
2. The problem is, we've all rebelled and we've all broken the Torah, God's Law. God is holy and just. Therefore he cannot simply overlook our sins. Sin must be judged and paid for. God's justice demands payment. A holy God cannot allow sinful man into his intimate presence. That is exactly why there is a place called Hell. One goes there to be punished for sin and banished from God. Under the Mosaic system, sacrifices were set up to pay for the sins of Israel. (See Leviticus 16, about Yom Kippur.)
3. Since every last one of us has sinned, we are all under God's judgment, we all die, and, left to ourselves, we all are on the way to Hell. (King David said there is not one who does not sin. He himself freely admitted he was a sinner. See Psalms 14 and 51.)
4. God is loving as well as just. Because God loves us, he provided the Messiah to take the punishment we deserve. The Jewish prophet Isaiah spoke of this 700 years before Messiah came. (See another Jewish prophet, Isaiah chapter 53, for an amazing prophecy describing Messiah's death and resurrection!) In fulfillment of the Levitical sacrifices, Messiah Jesus died to provide payment for our sins.
Messiah rose again from the dead and presented his payment for sin before the Father. (We'd be happy to send you something to read on the evidence for the resurrection.) His kingdom is going forward through the spreading of the Good News. One day Messiah will return to resurrect all people, bring the last judgement, and renew all creation.
5. God commands us to turn to him in faith and to turn away from sin. He promises forgiveness and eternal life to all who trust Messiah Jesus and receive him as Lord. This message of forgiveness is being proclaimed all over the earth to Jews and Gentiles alike. He saves us and renews us with his Spirit. We receive God's mercy through faith alone.
6. Will you turn from your sins and your rebellion, trust Messiah, and follow him? Will you receive the New Covenant made with Israel? If you do, you will be spared the punishment for your sin and you will be restored to fellowship with your Creator. You are promised eternal life in fellowship with him. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
How will you respond to God's New Covenant?
Why turn down God's free gift of eternal life? Why reject the New Covenant? If this message is true, there is nothing more important to know about! Turn to God now in faith. Talk to him and confess your sins. Thank him for sending Messiah as payment for sin. Receive Messiah's payment as payment for your sins.
If you are not yet able to believe, ask God to enable you to know if this is true. If you need more of an intellectual basis to believe, we certainly want to be of help and can provide information for you to read. We would also be happy to send you a copy of the New Covenant, or a whole Bible if you need one.
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