“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds so they will understand them, and I will write them on their hearts so they will obey them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” - Hebrews 8:10
In the traditional marriage service, the minister asks the groom, “Will you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” To this question the groom is required to answer, “I will.” Similar questions are then addressed to the bride. Following the answer “I will” and the saying of vows, the couple are declared man and wife. The marriage covenant has been established. If both of them keep their promises, they stand to live a life of mutual enrichment, delight, and support. But sadly, the “I will” often turns into “I won’t.” The covenant is broken, the marriage is dissolved, and the family disintegrates.
Israel had repeatedly broken the covenant that God had entered into with them, but God had not given up on his recalcitrant people. He proposed a “new covenant” in which he made many “I will” promises. These promises need to be understood and embraced.
“I will make a new covenant” (Heb. 8:8) meant that God would take an initiative that only he could take. Fallen man could not initiate a new relationship with an offended deity, but God could initiate a new relationship with his fallen creatures—and he did. It was a covenant of his design and his making.
“I will put my laws in their minds” (8:10) promised to imprint the truth of God’s promises on the inner recesses of the minds of God’s people. Instead of looking at laws etched in stone, as in the old covenant, God’s people would always have available to them insight into the truth.
“I will write them on their hearts” (8:10) promised not only insight into what God was saying and requiring but it also guaranteed that God’s people would be able to respond in trusting obedience. Laws written in stone that are beyond a man’s ability to obey produce only frustration. Truth written in the mind and engraved on the heart promises insight and ability and the possibility of glad fulfillment.
“I will be their God” (8:10) was not a new promise, but it needed to be reiterated. God’s people must often have wondered about their status, given their rebellion and antipathy toward him.
“I will forgive their wrongdoings” (8:12) spoke a merciful word to troubled hearts. To this day, God offers freedom from guilt and release from shame so that the forgiven may live in newness of life.
“I will never again remember their sins” (8:12) offered something that no human can offer. We can promise to forgive, but we cannot promise to forget! God promises both!
Blessed is the bride whose groom keeps his “I wills.” More blessed is the man who knows the covenant God, whose “I will” will never be changed to “I won’t.”
For Further Study: Hebrews 8:1-13
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit tellingthetruth.org.