Sunday, January 01, 2023

“A New Covenant” [Matt's Messages]

“A New Covenant”
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
January 1, 2023 :: Jeremiah 31:27-40

This section of the Book of Jeremiah (chapters 29-33) is often called “The Book of Hope” or “The Book of Comfort” or “Consolation” because it is so full of these plans to give God’s people a hope and a future. 

After all of those dark chapters about the coming judgment, chapters 30 through 33 are especially bright with this comforting hope about the future that is on the way.

Jeremiah says that an amazing restoration is going come.

Chapter 30 was mostly about a coming restoration to the land.

And chapter 31 is about that and even more about a coming restoration to the Lord.

And the promise of that amazing restoration can be summarized with two really important words, “New Covenant.” Our sermon title for today, drawn from chapter 31, verse 31, is “A New Covenant.”

How perfect to land on this passage on this first new day of the New Year?! I couldn’t have planned it, but the Lord sure did. 

A New Covenant.

Those are very important words in the Bible. If you had to guess, how many times do you think this phrase, “A New Covenant” appears in the Old Testament? How many times?

This is actually the only time that it shows up in the Old Testament! The idea is all over the Old Testament, but this is the time when that covenant is named, “The New Covenant.” So that all of the times when you read about the New Covenant in the New Testament, it’s referring back to this!

Have you ever been on the internet, and you click on all of these different links, but they keep taking you back to the same place, the same web-page? That’s Jeremiah 31! There are all of these links in the New Testament that when you click on them, it takes you back to Jeremiah 31.

This is one the most important passages in all of Jeremiah, and in fact, in all of the Old Testament!

Verses 31 through 34 are quoted verbatim in Hebrews chapter 8. It’s the longest passage of the Old Testament quoted in the New Testament. Very important!

In fact, the words “New Testament” come from the Latin for “New Covenant!” “Novum Testamentum.” “New Covenant.” The second major part of your Bible is named after these words in Jeremiah 31:31!

These are very important words for understanding your Bible.

“A New Covenant” What’s that?

We kind of know what a covenant is. It’s a set of solemn binding promises between at least two parties that establishes and shapes their relationship.

We’ve seen many covenants in the story of the Bible. 

A big one was the one God made with Abraham. Offspring, land, blessing. Sometimes we call it “The Abrahamic Covenant.” And He’s still keeping it today.

We saw another one when we studied the books of Samuel when God made a covenant with David and told him that he would have a name and a house that would last forever. We could call that the “Davidic Covenant.” And God’s still keeping it today.

And in between those, we learned about the other big covenant that God made with the people of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt under Moses. We could call that the “Mosaic Covenant.” Or the Law Covenant. We’re studying the book of Exodus right now at Prayer Meeting on Wednesday nights.

God made promises to Israel. And Israel made promises to God. God laid down 10 Commandments on tablets of stone, and Israel said that they would follow them.  And God promised to bless them in the land if they would obey and keep their side of the covenant. And Israel said that they would obey and keep their side of the covenant.

But Israel did not obey and keep their side of the covenant.

They broke the covenant. Again and again they broke the covenant.

We have that that Jeremiah was called to be a broken record about the broken covenant. For forty years, Jeremiah called the people of Judah (the southern kingdom after the split) to repent of their constant breaking of the covenant.  

But, on the whole, they would not repent, so God was going to send them into exile. Their beloved city was going to be attacked and overrun. Their temple was going to be destroyed. Their people were going to be drug off into exile. Rachel was going to weep for her children. The covenant was broken.

That’s the dark setting for this bright prophecy in Jeremiah 31. In verse 22, Jeremiah said that the LORD was going to do “a new thing on earth.” And it turns out that the new thing was a new covenant.

I have five simple headings that I want to use to emphasize what this new covenant means for you and me, and here’s the first one.


What was the theme for Advent this year? It was favorite phrase of Jeremiah that he uses over and over again (14x)?

They are not here yet, but they are certainly on the way.

Jeremiah uses that phrase three times in our passage for today, and the first is in verse 27.

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will plant the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the offspring of men and of animals. Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,’ declares the LORD” (vv.27-28). Stop there for a second.

Does that sound familiar? Does that ring any bells? I hope it does by now.

He’s reaching back all the way to chapter 1 when He called Jeremiah to be His prophet. Remember what He told Jeremiah he was going to do as prophet? Six things: Uproot, Tear Down, Destroy, Overthrow, Build, Plant.

The LORD was going to watch to make sure that these things actually happened. We’ve seen plenty of uprooting. That’s the title of our series! We’ve heard about tearing down, destroying, and overthrowing.

But here we get building again. And planting again. Repopulating the land with men and animals. 
It’s coming! The new days are coming.

They aren’t here yet, but they are certainly on the way. The LORD Himself will see to it.

Anybody here need to hear that? Anybody glad that 2022 is over and hoping that 2023 is full of better days? I don’t know if 2023 will be better for you, but I know that the days are coming, new days, when everything will change for the better for those who belong to the Lord. He’s got good plans for you. He knows them. Plans to “shalom” you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You can anticipate that. The New Covenant means new days.

Here’s something that’s going to change in those days. Look at verse 29. “‘In those days people will no longer say, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.’”

Anybody familiar with that proverb? You can see the point of it. Children often seem to pay for the sins of their parents. Dad sucks a sour grape, but it’s the kids who pucker up. Doesn’t seem fair!

I’m guessing that this generation used this proverb to complain about the exile. “How come we all had to go into exile when all of those generations before us broke the covenant?!”

What’s the answer to that? Well, this generation broke the covenant, too. And, in fact, they had so many hundreds of years of extra warning that they didn’t heed. Yes, the previous generation’s sin had effects on this generation, but they were not blameless either. The exile is everybody’s fault. Verse 30.

“Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes–his own teeth will be set on edge.” Now, that’s not that encouraging. I mean, I’m glad that he’s emphasizing individual responsibility, but how is this good news? Everybody still dies for their own sin.

But what some point in the future, nobody has to die because they are all forgiven of their sins and because they all stop sinning?  Those would be new days!!! Look at verse 31.

“‘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” (vv.31-32).

That’s the same phrase in Hebrew, “The days are coming...declares the LORD, ‘when I will make (I will cut) a new covenant (notice with whom) with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

Israel (the northern kingdom) has been in exile already for a hundred years. Judah will be in exile for seventy.

But the days are coming when the LORD is going to make a new binding arrangement with them both. With the whole reunited people of God.

And the New Testament tells us that you and I are grafted into that, as well. We get to join into this New Covenant, too.

The LORD says that this covenant will not be like the old one. It won’t be like the Mosaic Covenant. The one God made with Israel after the Red Sea Rescue at Mount Sinai.

What’s the key way that it won’t be like that old one? Do you see, in verse 32?

What went wrong with the old covenant?
What was wrong with the old covenant?

There wasn’t anything wrong with the covenant!

But there was something wrong with the people of Israel and Judah. They broke the covenant. Look at verse 32 again.

“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.”

How many times has he said that? That He was a perfect husband, but they were a wayward wife?! 
How is the New Covenant going to be different? It’s going to be unbreakable.

The problem with the old covenant was the old people. So this new covenant is going to have new people. People made new. People with change deep inside. See what He says in verse 33:

“‘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.”


The New Covenant means new hearts and new minds for God’s people. That was always the goal in the Old Covenant. The people of Israel were supposed to impress it on their hearts (Deut 6:6). They were supposed to repent at the heart level and love God at the heart level.

And some certainly did! There was always a remnant with changed hearts.

But this New Covenant? It’s going to be radically internalized and intensified.

The law, the teaching of God, was written on the stone tablets in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, it’s going to be written on our very hearts. You see everybody who is truly in the New Covenant gets a new heart. The remnant becomes the majority (cf. ESV Study Bible note on Jeremiah 31). The Holy Spirit comes into the heart of every genuine New Covenant believer and gives them a heart that wants to obey. The Holy Spirit comes into the mind of every genuine New Covenant believer and gives them a mind that knows what is right and wrong and the ability to choose what is right, and to say “No” to sin (1 Cor. 10:13, 2 Cor 5:17). The New Covenant means deep change.

And that’s good news because it’s the work of God to do it in us! He promises.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we just sit there and wait for it to happen. Right now, when the New Covenant is here but not yet fully fulfilled, we live in the tug of war. Read Romans 7!

And we need to live into our new lives just like Romans 6 and Romans 8 teach us.

But we CAN do it because God is doing it in us. That’s the New Covenant.

It’s internal. The New Covenant means deep change inside.

Are you changing? Is there something the Lord is working on you to change in 2023? Some area of your sanctification? I hope so! And if you are genuinely in the New Covenant, I know so! Because the LORD is doing this work in us. The problem with the Old Covenant was that the people didn’t want to obey. So, the LORD fixes that in the New Covenant and gives them a new want.

“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.”


New intimacy. A new deeper relationship with God Himself. This has always been the goal. This language, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” is all over the Old Testament. It was the point of the Old Covenant, too. But the people broke it. They were unfaithful.

He was a perfect husband, and they were “Gomer,” the unfaithful wife whoring after other gods.

But the New Covenant means a new relationship.  Restored and made like it was always supposed to be. Look at verse 34.

“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.”

In the Old Covenant, the prophets, priests, and kings (these intermediaries) were always trying to convince the people to know Yahweh. To know His ways. To know His heart. To know Him personally (remember Jeremiah 9:23-24!).  But the New Covenant will reach down into the hearts of all of God’s people and give them all a true and deep knowledge of Him. From the littlest one back there in Children’s Church who comes to trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord to the Queen of England who did the same.

“They will all know me.” “They will all be close to me.” That word for “know” is the knowledge of personal relationship. It means to know someone intimately. To not just know about them but to know them personally. It’s what our church is all about–bringing people into a life-changing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

And, of course, right now we still have to remind each other and encourage each other to grow in our knowledge of the Lord. We haven’t reached the end of the fulfillment of this prophecy when the knowledge of the LORD covers the earth like the waters cover the sea.

But it’s here now in a way it wasn’t then. Every genuine New Covenant believer KNOWS the Lord already. That’s what we prayed for Wilson this morning. That he would come at early age to  join into the New Covenant and know the LORD in a saving way. Not through any other mediator than the One mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus. 

I can’t hardly wait until that day when that nearness, that intimacy, that closeness is full and complete for all of us. 

But we have it, in principle, right now. You know the Lord. If you belong to Jesus, you know the Lord.

And that means that you can pray. In 2023, your life can be marked by deep knowledge of and closeness to the Lord of glory Himself.

You don’t need me.
You don’t need your neighbor.
You don’t need your brother or sister saying, “Know the LORD!”

You know Him already, and you can go deeper in that knowledge. You can grow in that closeness.

Judah rejected that invitation again and again. But those who are in the New Covenant will accept that invitation again and again. An invitation to a new closeness, a deeper relationship, and a sweeter fellowship both now and forever.

How is that possible? How can you and I who are sinners (even sinners with new hearts[!] How can we) have that kind of a close relationship with a holy God? The end of verse 34 tells us how. Look at it there. 

They will all know me...“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”


New accounts. New standing with God. New cleansing. Our sins totally forgiven and remembered no more. The New Covenant means that God’s people are totally forgiven.

The Israel under the New Covenant will be totally forgiven of their sins. And their sins will be remembered no more. Wiped off! Wiped clean. Not held against them.

“What sin?! I don’t remember any sin. I’m no longer angry at these folks. What was between us is no longer between us.”

Can you imagine?! The New Covenant means full forgiveness. And that makes all of the difference.

Because, remember, this is not how they felt right now. They were either heading into exile or there already. It seemed like the end of the line. God has given them up. It seemed like there was no hope.

Have you felt that way recently? Like your sins are the end of the line, and there is no hope for you? That’s why this next part is so wonderful. Look at verse 35.

“This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the LORD Almighty is his name: ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,’ declares the LORD, ‘will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.’”

Last I checked, the sun comes up every day. Sometimes it’s a little overcast, but you can see that it’s up there. Last I checked, the moon and stars are there every night. Last I checked, the sea has waves every day. Those things happen by God’s decree. You can count on them. “The sun’ll come up tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar.” And that’s the bedrock promise of God’s love for His people.

The exile was not the end! They have a hope and a future. This generation was going to into exile, yes, but there was a new day coming. V.37

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the LORD.”

Can anybody measure all of the heavens above and the foundations of the earth below? No. Not even Google or Elon Musk! Can’t be done. So the LORD will not reject all of the true descendants of true Israel because of all the sins they have committed. Because they will be forgiven! God will find it in His heart to forgive them.

And that goes for all of true Israel. Not just those who are ethnically Jewish, but all who come to faith in the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem. Like you and me. Read Romans 9, 10, and 11 to get more of that kind of theology!

The point is that God is faithful. He forgives our sins and keeps His promises. And you can “bet your bottom dollar” on it! As you head into 2023, you can count on the faithfulness of God because of the New Covenant that He has made. And not just in 2023, but forever.


The last promise in chapter 31 is a promise of a new city. Look at verse 38. Starts with very familiar words by now.

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the LORD. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.’” (vv.38-40).

The LORD says that the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt after the exile.

The Book of Nehemiah chapter 3 actually says that they started at the Tower of Hananel (Northeast Corner) as they started to rebuild from the rubble.

My read on this is that verses 38-40 are kind of a walking tour from that corner in the Northeast to the Corner Gate in the Northwest and then around the south side with Gareb and Goah and the Valley of Hinnom and the Kidron Valley, etc.

The four corners of the city. It is going to be rebuilt. For the LORD!

But I think this is pointing to an even greater fulfillment than what happened in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and Haggai.  Because that Jerusalem is attacked and uprooted and demolished again and again. The worst was the one in AD 70 when Herod’s temple was destroyed by General Titus of the Romans.

I think that this is pointing towards an even greater fulfillment. A mountain range further out than we have not yet seen. I think it’s hinting at Revelation 21 and 22. When the Jerusalem from above comes down.

Listen to the first part of Revelation 21 and note all of the New Covenant themes:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’" (Rev. 21:1-4 NIVO).

New days!
New hearts.
New closeness.
New slates.
New Jerusalem.

That’s what we have to look forward to brothers and sisters!

I wore out the exclamation point button on my computer yesterday writing this message because this truth is just so wonderful!!!!!!

The New Covenant is not just important. It’s everything! Because it comes from and is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25
10. "Conspiracy" - Jeremiah 11:1-12:17
11. “My People For My Renown” - Jeremiah 13:1-27
12. "I Can No Longer Show Compassion" - Jeremiah 14:1-15:21
13. "I Have Withdrawn My Blessing, My Love and My Pity" - Jeremiah 16:1-21
14. "I the LORD Search the Heart" - Jeremiah 17:1-27
15. "Go Down to the Potter's House" - Jeremiah 18:1-19:15
16. “Insult and Reproach All Day Long” - Jeremiah 20:1-18
17. "Woe to the Shepherds" - Jeremiah 21:1-23:8
18. "I Did Not Send These Prophets" - Jeremiah 23:9-40
19. "“My Eyes Will Watch Over Them For Their Good” - Jeremiah 24:1-25:38
20. "This Man Should Be Sentenced to Death" - Jeremiah 26:1-24
21. “Under the Yoke” - Jeremiah 27:1-28:17
22. “I Know the Plans I Have for You” - Jeremiah 29:1-32
23. "I Will Surely Save You Out of a Distant Land" - Jeremiah 30:1-24