(Vs. 7) The first covenant spoken of here is the covenant of the Levitical Priesthood, made with Israel and delivered by Moses. It was a typical covenant (Heb. 7:11, 18).
This covenant was deficient. It had a weakness in that it was only typical. Its priests were only sinful men; its sacrifices were animal blood; its offerings could not remove sin. If this covenant could have redeemed, there would have been no reason for Christ to come! (Heb. 10:1-4, 9.)
(Vs. 8) "But finding fault with them" (BOTH with the covenant which had its weakness and with the people who continued not in it), God said, "The days come when I will make a new covenant" (Jer. 31:31-34).
This covenant is called a NEW covenant not with respect to its origin or its age, for it is the EVERLASTING covenant made with Christ before the foundation of the world (Heb. 13:20; Rev. 13:8). It is called the new covenant in that it is NEWLY REVEALED! That which is revealed second was made first. It is called new because it is ALWAYS NEW; it WILL NEVER BE OLD nor give place to another. It is also called new because IT GIVES A NEW HEART, a new nature, and a new spirit!
(Vs. 9-12) "This is the new covenant I will make with them after those days," after the times of the Old Testament, when the Messiah shall come and the gospel of grace shall be preached.
1. "I will PUT MY LAW IN THEIR MINDS and WRITE THEM IN THEIR HEARTS." By the law of God we can understand several things: (a) THE MORAL LAW of God which is summed up in these two, "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself." (b) All the COMMANDMENTS OF OUR LORD with respect to repentance, faith, and godliness. (c) The WHOLE WORD OF GOD, which the believer loves and cherishes. These are written not on tablets of stone, but on the heart and mind of the believer, so that he thinks on them, and not only thinks on them but LOVES them. "I love Thy law, O Lord." His commandments are not grievous but precious (Matt. 11:28-30).
2. "I will be to them THEIR GOD and they shall be MY PEOPLE." Not as He is the God of all creation or the God of nature and providence, but He is their God as He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus (John 17:21; I John 1:3). "They shall be My people," not in the sense that all mankind are His people, but as SONS OF GOD, whom God loved in a special way and chose in Christ--the family of God (Rom. 8:14-17).
3. They "ALL SHALL KNOW ME, from the least to the greatest." I believe if we go back to Heb. 1:1 we can get some light on this. God spoke to the people through the prophets and the priests. If a man wanted to know what the Lord had to say, he inquired of the prophet. If he wanted to offer a sacrifice, he went to the priest. Some would put these restrictions on us today if they could. Every believer is a son; every believer is a student of the Word; every believer is a priest to offer sacrifices of prayer and praise; every believer has the Spirit of God dwelling in him. While we have pastors and teachers today that we may grow to maturity through the Word, all believers know the Lord, pray to the Lord, and walk with the Lord. "Ye are kings and priests unto God! (Heb. 4:14-16; Heb. 10:19-22.)
4. "I will be MERCIFUL to their unrighteousness," that is, their sin; for all unrighteousness is sin. The phrase tells us that God will forgive our sins (I John 1:8-10). God will pardon freely those to whom He is reconciled in Christ. Forgiveness of His children's sins is not only an act of mercy, but an act of justice; for Christ has paid for our sins (I John 2:1-2).
5. "Their sins and iniquities I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE!" This means all sins and all kinds of sins original, actual, before conversion, and after conversion. He remembers them no more. They are cast into the depths of the sea; they are cast behind His back. You may look for them, but they cannot be found!
(Vs. 13) In the establishing of the New Covenant, the Levitical Covenant is done away. It has served its day but is now disappeared and used no more, as a garment rots and vanishes away (Gal. 5:1-6).