Hebrews 8:10 This is the covenant I will make with the house 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.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time.."
This prophetic word is taken from Jeremiah 31:33. He goes on to explain the covenant. The question is, what does "after that time.." mean.
The Greek word for time is hemera, and means (figuratively) a period. In Jeremiah the Hebrew word used is yowm. This is the same word used in Genesis 1:5 when God called the light "Day". It too carries the meaning of "a space of time defined by an associated term". This terminology is used throughout the Bible. Most often it has to do with end times events. I have yet to find a determinate for the phrase that will tell me specifically what it applies to in this case. I choose to believe that it has to do with Christ and the price he paid for our salvation.
The logic pushing my belief starts with: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,"
1. The phrase is future tense, and yet the writer of Hebrews is requoting it as if it is fresh and vital now.
2. What would have been significant for the house of Israel? They were waiting for the Messiah to come. The woman at the well understood that concept, and when Jesus told her that he was the one she believed. Jesus told the religious leaders constantly that he was the one; the Son of God. The arrival of Jesus the Messiah was and should have been monumental. There is no reason not to believe that Jesus upon this earth was the "time" he was talking about.
3. There is the possibility that this is still a future declaration, but why, if we are in heaven, will we need to have God's laws put in our minds and written upon our hearts? We will be in the presence of God himself. Perfect knowledge, perfect relationship, perfect peace. Think about us in heaven, a place where sin cannot exist. You will not be permitted there, carrying your baggage called sin.
4. The Holy Spirit gives us the prophetic word "this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,". Israel knew they had a covenant, for that had been established with Abraham, and Israel knew it belonged to them. You cannot convince a Jew of anything less than that to this day. Yet, this is again a word given in the future tense. I ask you again, what purpose would it serve to have a covenant in Heaven? Therefore the covenant has to apply while here on earth. The only time that we can see another covenant is in reference to Christ's death. Another term used for the covenant is testament, and law establishes that a testament does not go into effect until the creator of that covenant dies. God made the covenants, and God put himself on that cross in the form of his only son, therefore the testator died. If you choose not to believe that Jesus was God then this argument is irrelevant to you, but your unbelief does not negate God nor his promises.
There are references made to Jesus on the cross as being "that day". That could easily be rewritten as "that time".
"I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts."
Laws (Grk, nomos) carries the meanings of: law, regulations and principles. What if we change the terminology so that it reads "I will put my principles in their minds". Most of us see the word law and think restrictions. Restrictions, whether real or perceived, is what keeps many away from a relationship with God. There is an interesting passage that says that the law was only a shadow of the good things to come. Do you realize that the implications are that the law was a good thing. Consider why? Safety, morality, health concerns, cleanliness, and all during a time when most of these concepts were a rarity. When Noah was saved from the flood, all men were doing what was right in their eyes, and every thought was nothing but evil. Clearly that did not mean Noah.
So, having God's principles written upon our hearts, might eliminate the burden of trying to emblazon it upon our memory; without God doing that, man has proved that he would not do so on his own; those that have been rare. Even today I find that there are few who are interested in God's word. Don't believe that? Try sharing some aspect of His Word that has you excited and watch the reactions of people. I have a fellow employee, who tells me that he is a licensed minister, and the level of discomfort rises tremendously in him when I try to talk about scripture with him. To be honest I have sort of given up with some, and though they claim to know my God, none of them ever come to me to discuss what the Holy Spirit is currently sharing with them.
There is another series of implications involved in this statement. In saying, "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts." Is he referring only to those that are his? The passage refers to the house of Israel, and though many Jews take the law very serious, almost to the point of suffocating restrictions, and yet the Word tells us that they do not know Him. Let's just say for the moment that He has written his law upon their hearts. You might think that they would have recognized Him when he appeared on the earth; they did not. What if the statement is for today, and again still the Jew. Nothing has changed, with the exception of the few, and we Christians call them Messianic Jews.
Jesus told us that he would send the comforter to do exactly what this passage describes. The Holy Spirit will bring all things to our remembrance, show us things to come, and teach us all things.
"I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Zechariah 8:8 says, "I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."
God began bringing them back to Jerusalem many years ago and Israel became a state not that long ago. Jews still emigrate back to the homeland. God gave his promise that he would never again turn his back on Israel. To the Jew this may be confusing for even though God did punish them for turning their backs on God, by worshiping other Gods, they never seemed to relinquish their pride in being considered God's chosen people. Unless there had been a divorce, in a sense, there could not possibly be any truth behind a statement like this. Even though Israel seems to have returned I do not think you can really be comfortable in saying that they turned back to God. It would make sense if we looked at this in terms of God's determination to place them back into the place they hold in his heart.
(Hebrews 8:11) 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.
God describes the covenant that he will make with the house of Israel.
If that is exclusive then none of this applies to those of us who are not of Jewish blood. Thankfully we have been accepted into the family, because we were adopted. The adopted have every legal right to what the family possesses. That makes us a part of Israel in a round about way. Even if not, we are a part of God's family, and therefore the promise of his kingdom applies to us too.
Verse 10 has God putting his laws in their minds and writing those laws upon their hearts. This has the tendency to place everyone under the same umbrella. Clearly the Jews are not evidence of this, as many of them are atheists. What does that leave? The rest of us.
If God has written his law upon the hearts and minds of men, then why do we go about pursuing them as if they are lost?
"because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest."
This has the tendency to exclude anyone from the excuse of not knowing. The least of them could well be the those 10/20 window people as well.
"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
Is the knowing an aspect of forgiveness?
Here is what I see. God has forgiven the wickedness of the world and chosen to remember their sins no more. What does that mean? It sounds to me like exactly what it says. There are obvious problems with an open ended statement that gives us all a freedom from sin. For example: Romans says that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Why would He have to forgive something that has already been forgiven?
Sin is an old english term meaning to miss the mark, and it comes from archery, where the archer might miss the targeted spot. That is something that we do on a daily basis, but it does not have anything to do with God's heart toward us. What it does do is cloud our relationship with Him, and falls entirely upon us.
If we have freedom from sin then why do we struggle so? The answer to that falls into our court also. Romans 6:13 Tells us that we should not yield the parts of our bodies as instruments to be used for unrighteousness (sin). Why? Romans 6:14 says that sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
You cannot escape the fact that (unless something has happened to your brain because of injury) the sin you involve yourself in is entirely a choice that you made.
I spoke with a hypnotist once about the crazy things that people will do while under hypnosis. His response was that they are only doing things that they inwardly wanted to do anyway; much like the effects of alcohol. Alcohol loosens the inhibitions, and then you have the excuse to do what you wanted. I have the desire to dance freely before God, expressing myself as if no one was around, but I also have the desire to walk fearlessly upon the earth. Do not misunderstand, I have no desire to pound everyone into sand, although many need and deserve it, but I have spent my life wrapped in some level of fear. The moments of freedom that I have gained from that fear have been because of God in my life, and that was directly related to how much of His Word seemed to be in me.
No, I do not make concerted efforts to memorize scripture, but my mind these days clings more to concepts. The fact that I put flesh and blood on biblical characters helps me, for now I can visualize them and they become real, with feelings and emotions. The Bible is not the sterile fearful book that people imagine it, but one that will speak to you no matter what depths you are in. God is in the business of relational communication. In other words he is actually one of those rarities that will listen to you, and not look for other things to do while you are talking to him. He cares deeply about you.
"because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest."
The word least is the Greek word mikros, meaning small (in size, quantity, or dignity).
That leaves no one out. We are so concerned that there are five people living in a jungle somewhere that have never heard the name of Jesus, and you might be right, but this says that all shall know Him. Some one would argue that the reason they would know is because they brought the gospel to them. What then do you do with the fact that God said he is the one that will write his laws upon their hearts and minds. Think about this, when National Geographic has gone to some lost people, and won their hearts enough to video tape their lives, you see that even they have some form of moral code that they live by. True some live more loosely than many of us, but there is some form of standard for civilized living within their community. Even cannibals have a code of conduct. You do not eat the chief.
Least covers every base, economic, intelligence, and standard of living. Keep in mind that standard of living is a relative term.
(Hebrews 8:12) For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
For I will forgive...
Future tense. The blood of sacrificed animals, we are told, could not remove the guilty conscience of those that brought the sacrifice, but under the old law it did cover the sins of the guilty. This is not just a covering we are talking about here, but a removal. A removal with the intent of clearing the conscience of the one coming to God. (I may have said that incorrectly, but this is an ever changing process.)
We have been forgiven. There is no getting past that, but there is no getting past the sins that we so readily commit. Paul struggled with this too, for you find him saying that he was the chiefest of sinners, and why do I do the things that I do not want to do.
Forgiven, no doubt; removed from the corrupted world that we live in no. You cannot stand next to a mud puddle, on a busy street, and not expect to get some on you. Perhaps the wisdom in this mud puddle situation is to move away from the mud. That becomes more difficult when there is no pavement on the street and the entire thing is muddy, and you have to get from one end to the other, but as most have observed that there are those who choose to let the mud become part of their character, and that something that you do not have to do.
Sometimes I feel that the writing of God's laws upon our hearts is more of a character issue.
Why say that? Jesus spoke of the greatest of the laws, and they were this. Love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself. Even Jesus made God an inescapable aspect of our lives. It would only then be appropriate to love him, if you know how. To love your neighbor as yourself implies that you love yourself, not to some sick degree where you have to spend sixty five thousand dollars on a pair of sunglasses, but you have the dignity to hold your head up when necessary, and give a buck to the down and out that might be begging from you, because you know that there only circumstances that separate you being like the so called bum.
"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
The NIV and the KJV differ in several ways, although they may well mean the same thing.
NIV - forgive; KJV - merciful
NIV - wickedness; KJV - unrighteousness
The Greek word for merciful is hileos, and means cheerful. It implies that God is disposed to be gracious or merciful toward us, ready to forgive sins and bestow blessing. It also implies favorable.
Wickedness in Greek is adikia, and means injustice, the quality, the act, or morally wrongfulness.
God has stated that he will be disposed toward mercy upon us and our deeds which violate another's rights.
Having forgiven us and graciously showed mercy toward us, what is God asking us to do?
Romans 7 may be an answer to that. Verse 6 says, "but now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the spirit.
Micah 6:8 Tells us that, "He has showed you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
I must admit, at this point, that I am not clear as what that means to serve in the new way of the spirit. I can come up with an answer but that bothers me, so I will keep digging, but let me just say that though we are no longer under the law, we are under (in a sense) the spirit. It is not like the law in that it is a command for you are free to choose what you want to do, and many people do that. One character in scripture stands out in my mind, for Paul turned his body over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the soul could be saved. Sinning does not cut you off from God, but it certainly brings about death of the body. Created in Christ's image, we walk this earth as God's representatives. When someone who is a Christian dies, there is one less contender for the faith, and Satan has one less enemy.