10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
If the Hebrew people were not riled up about what Paul was saying before this, they certainly would be now. “What does he mean, the first covenant is old and decayed? We have had this covenant with God, all of these covenants, forever. Covenants never die, they never get old. How can he make such a statement?” It would be almost like someone coming and saying to Americans that our old constitution is decayed and needs replaced by a new one. We have to remember that the law and the covenants formed the Jewish governmental laws as well not just their religious laws. Paul was, in effect, saying their government needed to change because a new covenant had replaced the old.
But wait! The Jewish people knew this would come when Messiah came. It was a prophecy from Jeremiah. In fact, Paul quotes directly from Jeremiah 31:33-34. He doesn’t just pull these words out of thin air. These words of Jeremiah were known by Hebrew children and adults as a promise that the Messiah, the coming King, would bring to pass. When Paul wrote these words, all would know what he was saying and implying by them. He was not making up these words to try and prove hiss point! He was proving his point by words already written over 600 years earlier. He had to really have their attention now!
Let’s take a look at what this new covenant consisted of. First, the law would be written on their hearts and placed in their minds. The law at this time was only written on scrolls to be read only in the synagogue. The people did not have copies of the law like we have their bibles. They had to rely on going to the synagogue to hear the word of the Lord. As children, they learned certain portions of scripture, but there was no way to memorize all the words of the Lord in the Torah the history books, the Psalms, proverbs and the prophets. One thing they were well trained on were verses that pointed to the coming Messiah. Most had heard them over and over again. hey yearned for Messiah to come, thinking he would free them from Roman captivity. Psalm 22, Isaiah 6, 9, 53 and 61 were all familiar to them as well as many others.
The second part of this prophecy says that every man, woman and child will help each other to understand the word of God. We will teach our neighbors, and our brothers to know the Lord. How do we do this? Some might say it is through the words we speak, and that would be part of it. But much more important is the life that we live in front of other people. I used top have a Pastor who always said “What you do speaks so loudly that what you say I cannot hear.” If your witness does not line up with the gospel, we can use all the words we want and we will not reach a soul. In fact, we will most likely turn people away from God if our works do not show that Christ rules in our life. You and I will teach our brothers and our neighbors to know the Lord by our actions in everyday life. This is the most powerful witness we have.
Third, He will be merciful to the unrighteous. He will remember our sins no more. Hallelujah! What a wonderful promise this is. The nation of Israel always thought the Messiah would be a leader in battle, like Joshua and David were. They thought of Him as a deliverer of their flesh, not necessarily of their souls. Little did they understand the magnitude of this part of the prophecy. They thought this was their God, and that He would be Messiah to the nation of Israel. But He came as Messiah to all the nations of the earth, every tribe and every tongue. All the unrighteous would be shown His mercy, the mercy that was shown on the cross. All their sins would be forgotten and remembered no more. Paul was extending this prophecy past the nation of Israel to all the unrighteous. All those teachings of Jesus to love our enemies, do good to those who despitefully use us, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek would now come to back to their memory. God is a God to all the nations, not just to Israel.
This is the new covenant. Not just a covenant to Israel, but to every man, woman and child on this earth. To all races and creeds now and forever more. The Messiah was brining the fulfillment of this prophecy, and every other prophecy, to everyone throughout time. Paul was making the case for this in His letter to the Hebrews by showing them that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. In these days, only a priest could remit sins, and that only through the sacrificial system.
There was no other way for the people to be cleansed from their sins to stand before a holy God. This all changed when Jesus came. The prophecy came true, and Messiah had come for all mankind.