Jeremiah 31:31–34 (NRSV)
Verse 31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Verse 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. Verse 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Verse 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
God makes four covenants in the Old Testament with human beings: with Noah (Genesis 9); with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17); with Israel at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19–20); and with David (2 Samuel 7). But here in Jeremiah 31, God speaks of making a “new covenant” with Israel—but not the older covenants such as at Mt. Sinai, which the Israelites broke. This new covenant will be written on hearts instead of on stone tablets. Stone tablets gather dust and moss. Hearts are living organs, and what is written on the heart gives life to the whole body. And this time God will do it all—“I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
We Christians believe that this new covenant—the new relationship established by God with all of humanity—is sealed at a Passover supper we will remember and celebrate in a few short weeks: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).
Gracious God, the new covenant in Jesus’ blood frees us from bondage to sin and death. Write your name on our hearts, so that we may know you and love you more and more as we walk in the way of the cross. Amen.