Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant.
In Hebrews 8, we learn that Jesus not only has performed a superior work and presides over a superior covenant, but He also offers a superior promise to that of the Old Testament priests. In verse 7, the writer said, “If that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.” We would not need a new covenant if the old one was doing the job. “For finding fault with them, He says, ‘Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah’” (8:8). Even in the Old Testament they were looking forward to a better covenant–a covenant that was yet to come.
The writer mentioned four better promises under the new covenant. First, the new covenant promises unconditional blessing from God. Verse 9 says the new covenant is “not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord.” In the old covenant, the blessing was conditioned on their obedience. God said, in essence, “I will bless you as long as you keep My commandments.” But the new covenant is based not on our performance, but on our relationship with God.
Second, the new covenant promises an inward motivation. Verse 10 says, “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Under the old covenant, the laws of God were written on stone tablets. They were external. In Jesus’ day, the Jews wore them on their sleeves to remind themselves of what God’s word demanded. Today, those reminders are called phylacteries–little leather boxes that contain a written Scripture verse. Devout Jews would wear them over their foreheadss. It was all external motivation. But God was saying, “Under the new covenant I am going to put My Spirit in every believer. And He is going to know My desire. Not only that, but He is going to have that inward power and motivation to fulfill My commands.”
Third, the new covenant promises universal redemption. Verse 11 says, “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.” Under the Old Testament, only the Jews were the recipients of the covenant. Yes, there were some provisions for some Gentiles, but the old covenant was Jewish in nature. But this new promise is not just for the Jews alone, but for anyone and everyone who will trust in Christ.
The writer of Hebrews saved the best for last. Finally, the new covenant promises unlimited eternal forgiveness. In verse 12, the Lord says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Never did you have that promise under the Old Testament. God says that under the new covenant, “I will remember their sins no more.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Real Thing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.