The Better Covenant
“… ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 8:8,10-12).
[The New Covenant] is so much better than that of Moses, in this way: while it pledges God to even better promises (Heb.8: 6) than those of the earlier covenant…,there is no pledge or undertaking of any kind demanded from us. There are no ifs; no injunctions of observe to do; no conditions of obedience to be fulfilled. From first to last it consists of the I wills of the Most High. Count them up in this marvelous enumeration (Heb. 8:10-12), and then dare to claim that each should be fulfilled in your personal experience; because this is the covenant under which we are living, and through which we have access to God.
“I will write my laws into their minds.“ That refers to the intellectual faculty, which thinks, remembers, argues. It will be of inestimable value to have them there for constant reference; so that they shall always stand inscribed on the side posts and lintels of the inner life, demanding reverence, and compelling daily attention.
“I will write them upon their hearts.” That is the seat of the emotional life and of the affections. If they are written there, they must engage our love. And what a man loves, he is pretty certain to follow and obey. “A little lower,” said the dying veteran, as they probed for the bullet, which had sunk deep down into his breast, “and you will find the Emperor”; and in the case of the Christian who has been taken into covenant with God, the law is inscribed on the deepest affections of his being. He obeys because he loves to obey. He stays in his Master’s service, not because he must, but because he chooses it for himself, saying, as his ear is bored to the door, “I love my Master, I will not go out free.”
“I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” The last clause is even better than the first, because it implies the keeping power of God. His chosen people so wandered from Him that he once called them “Lo Ammi” Not my people (Hos. 1:9). But if we are ever to be His people; people for His peculiar possession then it can only result from the operation of His gracious Spirit, who keeps us, as the sun restrains the planets from dashing off into space to become wandering stars.
“All shall know me.” Oh, rapture of raptures! can it be? To know God! To know the deep things of God. To know Him, or to be known of Him. To know Him as Abraham did, to whom He told his secrets; as Moses did, who conversed with Him face to face; or as the Apostle John did, when he beheld Him in the visions of the Apocalypse. And that this privilege should be within reach of the least!
“I will be merciful to their unrighteousness.” In the old covenant there was little room for mercy. It was a matter of voluntary agreement; if one of the covenanting parties failed in the least particular, there was no obligation on the other to remain faithful to their mutual agreement. The failure of one party neutralized the whole covenant. But there is no such stringency here. On the contrary, mercy is admitted into the relationship, and exercises her gracious sway.
“I will remember their sins and iniquities no more.” As a score is forgotten when blotted from a slate, so shall sin be, as if obliterated from the memory of God. It will be forgotten, as a debt paid years ago. It will be so entirely put out of mind that it shall be as if it had never been. If sought for, not found. The handwriting nailed through. The stone dropped into ocean depths. The cloud absorbed by the summer heat, as it fades from the deep blue sky. Joseph’s brethren, in their last approach to Joseph, after their father’s death, betrayed a fear that though his resentment was cloaked, it was not thoroughly relinquished. But their fears were entirely groundless. They discovered that the offense had utterly passed from their brother’s thought, and Joseph wept when they spake unto him” [Gen. ch. 45]. In some such way as this God ceases to consider our sins, and it grieves Him if we do not believe the thoroughness of His abundant pardon.
Are you enjoying the terms of this covenant in your daily experience? God is prepared to fulfill them to the letter. Count on Him to do as He has promised. Reckon on His faithfulness. Claim that each pledge shall be realized in you to the fullest limits of His wealth, and your need. Do not try to invent conditions or terms not laid down by Him; but gladly accept the position of doing nothing to earn or win, and of accepting all that God gives, without money and without price.
Do you ask how God can call this a covenant, in which there is no second covenanting party? The answer is easy: Jesus Christ has stood in our stead, and has not only negotiated this covenant, but has fulfilled in our name, and on our behalf, all the conditions which were necessary and right. He has borne the penalty of human weakness and transgression. He has met all demands for a perfect and unbroken obedience. He has engaged to secure, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, a holiness in us which could never have been obtained by our own efforts. And as He has become our Sponsor and Surety, so God is able to enter into these liberal terms with us, saying nothing of all the cost to His Son, but permitting us to share all the benefits; on this condition only, that we identify ourselves with Him by a living faith, entrusting all spiritual transactions into His hands, and abiding by the decisions of His will. This is the new and better covenant, which has replaced the old.
Part 2 of 2
F.B. Meyer (1847-1929) from, The Way into the Holiest (an exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews).ch. 19. Italics added.
 An allusion to Exodus 21:5
Note: Hebrews 8:6-13 is the longest single Old Testament passage quoted in the Matthew-Revelation portion of the Bible. Since the Old Covenant was limited to the pre-Christian era (Heb. 9:8), and the cleansing our conscience in Hebrews 9:14 is equivalent to the forgiveness promised in the New Testament (Heb. 8:12), and since the Lord’s Supper symbolizes the New Covenant in Christ’s blood which are to observe is in this age (Matt. 26:28), then Christian believers today are recipients of this new covenant and can rejoice in its provisions. However, God’s New Covenant also contains future blessings for Israel that will be fulfilled after Christ’s Second Coming (Jer. 31:18,21,22,35-37). – JBW