Hebrews 8:8-9 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.

This is the longest quotation from the Old Testament found in the New Testament. This is a significant prophetic passage from Jeremiah 31:31-34. A new covenant was needed because the old covenant could not solve the problem of sin that began with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. This new covenant is for Israel and Judah. This implies that it would bring the divided people of God together to form a new entity. In the New Testament, this new entity still bears the name Israel but it has a new identity that includes both Jews and Gentiles (see Romans 11; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Jeremiah points out the difference between the old and new covenants. The biggest problem was that ancient Israel could not keep the terms of the covenant. They failed at the most fundamental level of faith. They rejected God and turned to the false idols and paganism of their neighbors. They did not give God their total hearts, souls, mind, and strength. They loved pleasure more than God. They turned inward to selfishness and outward to the flesh. The Old Testament is full of stories about this. Jeremiah wrote these words after the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians for 130 years. The southern kingdom of Judah was just about to be demolished by the Babylonians. His prophecy offered hope, but there must be a fundamental change in the ability of people to keep the terms of the covenant. The author of Hebrews will show that the only way the covenant with God can be kept is through the ministry of Jesus as the Great High Priest.

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