For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
Something was wrong with the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. The prophet Jeremiah foretold of its end, and the author of Hebrews is telling us clearly and unambiguously that the end has come. I’m always amazed that more of us can’t seem to comprehend this. So many Christian doctrinal traditions treat the New Covenant as little more than addendum to the Old. Others add elements of the Old into the New almost on a whim; how clear does it need to be?
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
This is the rest of the quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34, note that he described features of the New Covenant that were never present in the Old. Notice also that this entire quotation is cited by our author here in Hebrews as an accomplished fact, and not something still off in the future, as some would claim it to be today. If you still aren’t convinced, there is one more verse in this chapter:
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
The Old Covenant is called “obsolete and outdated.” Some might suggest that it will “soon disappear” but it still hasn’t; if you are thinking along these lines, think again.
Within just a few years of the time Hebrews was written, the Romans sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and scattered the people who were fortunate enough to survive the siege, and the Old Covenant has not been practiced from that day until this. Gone are the sacrifices, the offerings, the priests, the tabernacle, the holy place and all the rest of the system that was completely, totally and utterly replaced by the work of Jesus Christ, our great high priest who reigns even now at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven… and all of that was foretold centuries before by the prophets.