Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV): “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
It is amazing to me that the Jewish people were and are so adamant against the new covenant that God instituted through the sacrifice of Jesus, since He told them as clearly as He could that it was coming. But change, even change for the better, is very hard for people. The Pharisees saw no need for a new covenant, because they were perfectly comfortable working under the old one. They were blind to their own shortcomings under the old covenant, and uncaring about those who fell even shorter than them. So, when the new covenant came along, they rejected it outright, even though they could clearly see its superiority in the lives of Jesus’ disciples, and in their power. They decided to continue to live under the old covenant that they were familiar with, in which they were the top dogs, rather than put themselves under the new covenant, where they would have to learn all over again the new way of the kingdom, and where they would have to place themselves under “uneducated” men, Jesus’ disciples. But they didn’t think through the fact that, where there is a new covenant, it supersedes the old one – they didn’t have the option of continuing in relationship with God under the old covenant, while others entered into the new one. The old was invalid when the new one began, much like the writing and ratification of a new will supersedes all previous wills. A person must either opt into the new covenant, or they are opting out of a covenant with God altogether. The good news is that “if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in” (Romans 11:23). They (or anyone else in the world) can come into the kingdom as long as they are willing to come in through the narrow door of Jesus.
Father, thank You for Your open, generous heart that leaves the door open (at least for now), so that we can all come in. Thank You for opening Your new covenant to “sinners such as I,” so that I could find life and real holiness in You. Amen.