Summary: No longer is God's law written upon tables of stone, but upon human hearts.
A NEW COVENANT
1. “Behold the Days are Coming”
This is a recurring motif in Jeremiah. There is a certainty about it, because it is a declaration of the LORD.
It occurs in Jeremiah 23:5 - ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’
It occurs in Jeremiah 30:3 - ‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’
It occurs in Jeremiah 31:27 - ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.’
It occurs here in Jeremiah 31:31.
And it occurs in Jeremiah 33:14-15 - 'Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’
2. A New Covenant.
Here in Jeremiah 31:31, the LORD is declaring a new covenant. As he develops the theme, Jeremiah will tell us that this will be an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 32:40); whereas Ezekiel will add that it will be a covenant of peace (Ezekiel 37:26).
It will be a new covenant “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31). The picture is that of a reunited kingdom. Within two to three verses, we are no longer looking at a fragmented kingdom, but at one “house of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:33). The ten northern tribes are no longer ‘lost’ (cf. Jeremiah 50:4-5)!
Although it was ratified by blood (Exodus 24:6-8), the people were unable to keep the Mosaic covenant (Jeremiah 31:32; cf. Hebrews 8:7-9). So, the LORD is here introducing a “new” covenant, rendering the ‘old’ obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). The new covenant, too, will be ratified by blood. The blood of Jesus!
Thus, we see Jesus, raising the cup in the Upper Room. ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you’ (Luke 22:20). When Jesus’ side was pierced as He hung on the Cross, there flowed out blood and water (John 19:34).
3. Internalising the Covenant
This new covenant was so much superior to the old, that now the LORD would write His laws upon the hearts of the people (Jeremiah 31:33). This internalising of the otherwise impossible law points forward to the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Ezekiel 36:27). No longer is God’s law written upon tables of stone, but upon human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3)!
The LORD says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins will I remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). ‘For this is my blood of the new covenant,’ says Jesus, ‘which is shed for many for the remission of sins’ (Matthew 26:28).