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.
10 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.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbours,
    or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.’

13 By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

A few years ago my dear Uncle Richard passed away. He was a very influential churchman and lay preacher in the Lancaster area, and a kindly encourager to many. At his funeral service one of my cousins paid a tribute in which he said, ‘My father believed in internal life!’ At least, that’s how I heard it. He obviously meant to say ‘eternal life’, but it came out as ‘internal’. As reflected on this, however, I recognised that it is an appropriate description of the life God gives to His New Covenant people.

What was ”wrong” with the Old Covenant was the people (see verses 7,8). Their hearts were all wrong. They needed internal reconstruction. They required an ‘inside job’. This is what God provided in and through the coming of Jesus. We are no longer a people just trying to keep external laws; we are internally transformed. We are renewed within. We have a new power supply: new appetites, new desires, new ambitions and longings, new abilities. I like to say that the Holy Spirit gives us the want to and the can do.

This is why we can say that in Jesus we have ”a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Jesus is a better Priest, from a better order of Priesthood, and He has inaugurated a better covenant. Why would anyone go back from Him?

‘The old covenant is like the light of a candle; when the sun rises, it is no longer needed.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.865.