In a post of a few days ago, I considered the concept of God’s chosen people. In the Old Testament, God made several covenants with his chosen people, the Israelites. But Jeremiah tells us of a new covenant yet to come: “The days are coming…when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah…This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33, NIV)
The writer of Hebrews repeats Jeremiah’s prophecy in part, extending it to the followers of Christ. After recounting how the Israelite priests offered futile sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins as part of their religious duties under the old covenants, the writer of Hebrews speaks of the one priest, Christ Jesus, who made one sacrifice for the sins of God’s people under the new covenant.
“‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” (Hebrews 10:16-18)
I have always thought this is one of the most beautiful passages of scripture. It is also full of intriguing power. One priest. One sacrifice. One covenant. Laws in our hearts and minds. Sins forgiven, remembered no more.
It presents a dividing line between the old and the new–a line drawn by Christ’s entry into the world.