In a lengthy reference to the New Covenant as explained in Jeremiah 31, the writer of Hebrews lays out the difference between the New and the Old Covenants. The Old one was external. It was written on stone and the “flesh” of sinful man could never keep its precepts. The New one was an internal one. Hebrews 8:10 says, “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.” It would be grounded in their hearts and minds and would bring God and man together in a new relationship of the heart – a relationship of love.

The children of God failed the first covenant. The northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 721 BC. The southern kingdom fell to Babylon in 586 BC. The Temple, their religion, was destroyed! But they were not left hopeless. Pfeiffer says, “They had proved faithless to Israel’s God. Jeremiah complained that they had as many gods as they had cities. He insisted that God would send them into exile, where they would remain for seventy years. Yet, Jeremiah did not end on a note of despair. God would one day write a new covenant, not on tablets of stone, but on the fleshly tablets of the human heart. Man’s inner motivation would be transformed. He would become a new creature.”[1]

Looking at the law shows us God’s standards. We see an employer trying to maximize our performance. We see a policeman hiding behind a billboard trying to catch us doing something wrong. We see a coach trying to exhort his losing team to try harder, be more committed, prepare better and give more. It’s all about what we do! But now stop and look at Jesus. What do we see? Paul explains it in Romans 5:8. He says, “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were yet sinners (losers!) Jesus died for us.” Jesus is the unmistakable demonstration of God’s love for us. John 3:16 affirms it. “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son so that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” As both the Old Testament and the New Testament affirm, the thing God wants most from us is our love. But only the loved can love. Look at Jesus! His love can make us new creatures.

[1] Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1962), 68.