“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
God would write his law on the hearts of his people rather than on tablets of stone, as he did the Ten Commandments. In Jeremiah 17:1, the sins of Judah were engraved on their hearts so that they wanted above all to disobey. In Jeremiah 31, the change seems to be an experience very much like the new birth, with God taking the initiative.
The old covenant, broken by the people, would be replaced by a new covenant established by God. The foundation of this new covenant is Jesus (Hebrews 8:6). It is revolutionary, involving not only Israel and Judah, but even Gentiles. It offers a unique relationship with God, with his laws written on individuals’ hearts instead of on stone. Jeremiah looked forward to the day when the Messiah would come to establish this covenant. But for us today, this covenant is here, in the life of the Savior Jesus.
When we turn our lives over to God, the Holy Spirit builds into us the desire to obey God. We have the wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start and establish a permanent, personal relationship with God (see Jeremiah 29:11; 32:38-40). Pray for those who haven’t yet made a commitment to Jesus. If you’re in need of a fresh start after being away from God for awhile, now’s your opportunity to make a new commitment.