“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
This is the beginning of the prophecy. Jeremiah is to tell others that this prophecy is a promise of things still yet to come. A promise of what to look forward to. These days "are coming." The original source of this promise is made crystal clear by adding "declares the Lord." Jeremiah has become the mouthpiece of the Lord Himself.
The Lord is telling us what will be in these days that are still yet to come. Notice who is making the covenant. It is God. He is causing the covenant to happen. He is the one who caused the old covenant to happen also. In Genesis 15 where the original or old covenant is made, God, represented by a firepot and flaming torch walks between the pieces of animals usually laid out for both parties of a covenant to walk through. God caused the old covenant to occur and He also caused the new covenant to replace the old. Abraham watched as God alone accomplished the instituting of the old covenant showing God's unconditional love for Israel. The new covenant is unconditional as well. Put your faith in Jesus and you are forgiven - regardless of your sin.
This is who is on the receiving end of this new covenant. Since the days of Jacob, all Jewish people were represented by the word Israel. God changed Jacob's name to Israel, Jacob had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel and the name Israel included all twelve tribes. As time went on there was conflict between the tribes and they split into two group which were then referred to as Israel and Judah. Some tribes (10 of them) stayed with the Israel group which was then referred to as the northern kingdom. A couple of the tribes (2 of them, Judah and Benjamin) stayed with the Judah group which then became known as the Southern Kingdom.. When God says Israel and Judah, He is saying all of the twelve tribes and all of their descendants. This new covenant is for all Jews to embrace, regardless of which of the twelve tribes their physical descendents came from. If you are Jewish, this new covenant is for you.
A Gentile is by definition someone who is not Jewish. You are either a Jew or a Gentile similar to the way you are born in America or you are not. Being a Jew is not better or worse than being a Gentile, it is just different.
Gentiles who put their faith in the Jewish Messiah Jesus, are included in this same new covenant and this is why. At the time they decide to believe in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), they are grafted into the new covenant promises, becoming part of the commonwealth of Israel which is made up of Abraham's spiritual family. Remember, God's original promise to Abraham was for All the nations, not just Israel or the Jews to be blessed (Gen. 12:2-3). Being grafted into the commonwealth of Israel (sometimes expressed as an olive branch being grafted into an olive tree), is being grafted into being a part of Abraham's spiritual family. Therefore Jews and Gentiles become one in this way. They both are able to embrace the same new covenant and receive God's forgiveness through their faith in the Jewish Messiah.
Jews who believe in Jesus and Gentiles who believe in Jesus worship the same God, (sometimes in different ways) receive the same promises (forgiveness and salvation through the blood of that Jewish Messiah alone) and are part of the same covenant that Jeremiah 31:31-34 foretold. That is what is meant by there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile). While each group may be separate in function and identity like a husband and wife may be separate in function and identity, they are still one. Their diversity should no longer be a wall between them but a blessing to be shared.
Today, Abraham's spiritual children come from all nations on this earth. Heaven will be a very diversified place.
Here, God is identifying Himself again as the originator of the old covenant before He again describes the new covenant. He is saying this new covenant will be different from the old covenant and is about to tell us why. These terms are often now translated or referred to as Old Testament and New Testament although old covenant and new covenant may be more of a literal translation.
Is Judaism their are three fathers whom are knows as the three patriarchs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is promising that the teachings of the old covenant that was tradition and even law for many would some day change for their children in future generations.
Most of Judaism recognizes Moses as their greatest prophet. But God did promise that the day would come when He would lift up A Prophet Greater Than Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18.
There is more than a single message here. God is referring back to the fathers that he had just mentioned. The story of Passover was well known and a Passover meal (a seder) was required each year to retell the story. Passover was also one of three holidays where Jews from all over would travel to Israel to celebrate. It was observed with the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. It was on this holiday that the new covenant was instituted, so showing the connection between the Passover of the old covenant and the new covenant is being established. Jesus is our new Passover Lamb sacrifice. Read more about The Holiday Of Passover and Christ In The Passover.
God is saying that He is the one who like a father holding the hand of his child, led them (the fathers - Israel) out of Egypt. The Father used Moses as the mediator for the old covenant. In Judaism, the Father is recognized the same way He is in Christianity. Our Father our King (Avinu Malkeinu) is a common beginning to prayers of repentance.
When God says He led them out of Egypt, He is saying that it was Him who delivered Israel out of the hands of Egyptian bondage. The twelve tribes and their families were slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. When God delivered them from bondage they became free and the original nation of Israel was birthed.
As a person reads through the entire new covenant (testament) this same theme reoccurs. God Himself is again the one who delivers his children from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus, who is God Himself (Read more about The Divinity Of The Messiah). God used Jesus to be the mediator of the new covenant. We, as sinners, are delivered from the bondage of sin through the power that is given us through the Holy Spirit. We then have the freedom, even a greater freedom, than those delivered from Egypt.
The first deliverance came through the blood of the Passover Lamb, marking the doorpost of the slaves houses, the night the Angel of Death passed over those homes. The new covenant deliverance comes from the sacrifice of Jesus Our Passover Lamb, as the Angel of Death passes over us when it comes time to pay the penalty for sin. Our heart becomes the new doorpost, our body becomes a home or temple to the Holy Spirit and through faith the blood of Jesus marks our heart.
This is what is meant by salvation. Believers in Jesus who believe that the blood of Jesus became their personal substitute sacrifice for their individual sins, are passed over or saved from becoming spiritually dead. That is what is meant by their is no condemnation is Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). It doesn't mean that there is no consequence to our sin, but it does mean that our sin is forgiven when it is judgment time before the Lord after we die. Read more about Salvation.
Sometimes, Israel was obedient to the Lord and was totally blessed for it. The Lord helped fight many of Israel's battles and provided many miraculous victories throughout their history as the holidays of Hanukkah and Purim commemorate. The Lord has always kept a Faithful Jewish Remnant alive to make sure that His prophecies would be fulfilled.
Israel's Disobedience is well documented throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. God is declaring here that even though Israel received God's blessing at times for being obedient, that from His (God's) perspective, Israel did not obey. They broke the covenant time and time again even though Moses warned of the consequences - sometimes referred to as a curse. Daniel recognized this in Daniel 9:11.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Israel broke the covenant. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that ALL people are guilty of sin, the only exception being Jesus whose life was sinless. He was able because only God can be perfect and Jesus was God, in the flesh. The true purpose of the law was to teach us that we are unable to do it all, perfectly, all the time. Therefore it pointed us toward a temporary sacrificial system in the days of the second temple and now is replaced with a permanent sacrificial system through our Messiah.
For more on this please read The End Of The Law.
Here the Lord is looking back to the earlier part of the same verse. He is saying that even though He (God) assumed the role of husband, which would be one of love, protection, provision, guidance and also of authority, Israel (the bride) was unfaithful to the marriage vows (covenant). They did not live up to their part of the covenant. The broke the covenant vows the way a wife can break her wedding vows. Eventually, Israel committed adultery. For more on this please read The Adultery Of Israel.
In a variety of ways, including their worship of other false god's, Israel broke the covenant which taught among other things that you shall have no other God's before me. Something becomes a false god when it is worshiped more than the real god. Money, (when you never have enough to tithe), our bodies (time to workout but not worship, pray or study God's word) and fame (through pride - you want the credit instead of through humility giving the credit to God) can all become examples of false gods when allowed to be the center of our focus. If we are lifting it up in our lives higher than we are lifting up the Lord, it has become a god to us, knowingly or unknowingly.
The metaphor of Israel being God's bride in the old covenant is reintroduced in the new covenant. Believers in Jesus become the bride of Christ. Followers of the Jewish Messiah are referred to as the bride of the lamb. There is a wedding feast to take place between the Messiah and His followers. God remains the Husband and the commonwealth of Israel becomes the bride.
God is again reconfirming that a new covenant will be made to replace the old one. God is the one who "will make" this happen. God sent His Son Jesus to earth. He made that happen. Jesus allowed Himself to die on the cross. (God allowed that to happen). The blood of Jesus was pure and sinless. (God caused that to happen) The Father found the sacrifice of His own Son to be acceptable as a substitute sacrifice for all sinners who truly believe (God allowed this to happen). Jesus was resurrected after three days (God caused this to happen). Jesus ascended up into heaven to be with the Father until it is time for His Second Coming. (God caused this to happen).
We can see that whenever God is in the process of making a covenant that He does most of the work. All we need is faith and obedience. And we need to repent when we do wrong. God has already provided an avenue for forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus.
Here, God is again telling us who this new covenant is intended for. This new covenant is intended for the house of Israel. The question is asked, what is means by the house of Israel? The answer varies depending on when and how the term Israel is used. Here, God is specifically placing the house of Israel in the context of "after those days."
So the real questions are when are "those days"? What is about to occur? How does the house of Israel and the new covenant fit together at this point in time?
In the beginning of the Jeremiah 31:31-34 prophecy, God says the new covenant is for the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In this part of the new covenant prophecy, only the house of Israel is mentioned. What happened to the house of Judah?
The answer is directly linked to the phrase "after those days." The prophet Ezekiel in chapter 37 verses 15-20 is given the vision that in end time prophecy, the 12 tribes will be re-united. In the days of Jeremiah and even today the twelve tribes are mostly scattered everywhere. Most people do not know what tribe they even belong to. Many Jewish parents completely hid from their children their true Jewish identity or converted in order to protect them from things like the Spanish inquisition in 1492 or a future holocaust.
As God brings His prophetic timetable to a close, one of the things that will occur is the 12 tribes will be united in location and worship. In the end, all the commonwealth of Israel will be considered one house, one body and will worship one God. God has no reason to name the house of Judah separately because after "those days" the house of Judah will be part of the house of Israel.
Not all Prophecy has come to fulfillment yet. After those days refers to prophecies that will be fulfilled before this new covenant is embraced by Israel as a nation. This covenant is already being embraced by both Jews and Gentiles, however, as far as the nation of Israel is concerned, it is not time yet. There are many things which need to occur before "those days" can be over. They include an awful period of Tribulation known as The Time Of Jacobs Trouble which is the fulfillment of Daniel's 70 Week Prophecy.
It is after "those days" that Zechariah 12:10 foretold of the nation of Israel having their partial spiritual blindness removed. At that time, at the end of Daniel's 70th Week, Israel, as a nation will mourn for the one who was pierced, thereby recognizing Jesus as their Messiah. It is after "those days" that the nation of Israel is to receive the next part of the new covenant prophecy.
For more on "those days" please read Israel In End Time Prophecy and Are We Living In The End Times?
Jeremiah is reminding everyone that he is speaking for God. That God is speaking through Him.
The Lord Himself is bringing this message, through Jeremiah.
Now God is revealing some of the differences between the old covenant and the new covenant. The old covenant was external. Written by the hand of God on Mt. Sinai and then on scrolls by several different prophets, that is how the bible has been preserved.
God is saying here, again keeping in mind the context of the previous wording "after those days" that once all of Israel recognizes their Messiah as a nation, He will put his will, his desires, his law into their hearts. We will know Him in our hearts.
The same way God wrote the ten commandments for Moses, He will write His law for us on our hearts internally, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The new covenant is a permanent internal covenant where as the old covenant was an external temporary covenant.
Once a person puts their faith in Messiah Jesus there are several things that happen. Our sins are forgiven and also we are credited with the good deeds of Jesus. We are credited with His righteousness. It is imputed - or given to us - by God. Also at that time, believers are indwelled with The Holy Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit inside of us makes it possible to know the will of God. It also empowers us to do right. After those days, everyone left at the end of Daniel's 70th week, will have the Holy Spirit inside of them making it possible for God to write on everyone's heart.
The new covenant, speaking to the followers of the Jewish Messiah says it this way:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)
This is a metaphor for us doing God's will because our heart tells us to and not because an external scroll or person demands it. The indwelling of God's Holy Spirit makes that possible.
Hebrews 8:10; 10:16 and Romans 2:13 re-affirm that Jeremiah's prophecy is already instituted and in play for those who believe in Jesus.
The Lord is reaffirming His relationship with those that are remaining, after the tribulation, after "those days." God has been consistently showing a continuance from old covenant to new covenant and we find this same promise, given earlier to Israel is several places, reaffirmed here. This is what the nation of Israel has to look forward to when, as a nation, they mourn for the one that they have pierced (Zech. 12:10).
For individuals who have already embraced their Jewish Messiah Jesus, this promise is already in place. Jesus is our good shepherd and we are His flock.
The New Testament says it this way. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know me (John 10:14).
This is because with the new covenant, "after those days" as stated earlier in the prophecy man will not need to be taught the way we need to be taught now. Knowing God's will in our hearts is how we will know the Lord.
For those who already have a relationship with Christ, we pray for discernment to know the truth and His will and through the Holy Spirit we are guided. Christians are also looking forward to "after those days" because it will be a chance for us to know the Lord at a more intimate level.
This is the reason that no external teaching will be needed. Because "after those days" all believers in Jesus will know the truth. It will be imputed to them. Everyone will know God's true will and desires for themselves. This will create a peace that transcends all understanding and allow the wolf and the lamb to feed together as Isaiah 11:6 foretold. Jeremiah again remind everyone whose words are really being spoken when he says "declares the Lord."
This is by far the most important part of the new covenant prophecy. God is telling us that the day will come, "after those days" when all of Israel will be forgiven. How is that possible? Because the new covenant teaches that all who repent for their past sins and turn away, put their faith in the blood of Jesus as their substitute sacrifice and believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead will be saved.
At this point in Israel's timeline, since the truth is imputed to them, they will know and believe in their hearts because it will be written in their hearts that the Jewish Messiah Jesus is real. Therefore, God, keeping His new covenant promise to all who believe, will remember the commonwealth of Israels sin no more. At this point in time, quoting from Paul,
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27).
For more on this please read All Israel Will Be Saved.
The new covenant's superiority to the old is manifest in a number of ways. For instance, it has a better mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:6); it offers a better hope based on better promises, most notably that of complete forgiveness (Jer. 31:34; cf. Heb. 10:4); it grants all believers direct access to God without the need for priests; it is gracious (Heb. 8:9) in that its blessings will never be forfeited by disobedience (though disobedience brings chastening [Heb. 12:4-11]); it is internal, written not on tablets of stone (2 Cor. 3:7; Ex. 31:18), but on the heart (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10); it brings spiritual life, not spiritual death (2 Cor. 3:6; cf. vv. 7,9; Rom. 8:2-3); it results in righteousness, not condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9); it is clear and straightforward, unlike the old covenant's types, pictures, symbols, and mysteries; and it is energized by the liberating power of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18).(1)
Read about our Messiah
1). The MacArthur New Testament Commentary - John MacArthur - John 1-11 p.124