These chapters portray a change of tone for the prophet. When Jeremiah was called to the ministry, the Lord said to him, “Look, I have filled your mouth with My words. See, today I have set you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant” (Jer 1:9-10). Throughout chs. 1-29, Jeremiah prophesied much that would fall under the headings of “to uproot and tear down…destroy and demolish,” but little of “to build and plant.” Chapters 30-33 set forth a new theme. Here the prophet enjoyed a privileged view of the sovereignty of God—the One who sent His people into exile and promised to return them to the Promised Land.
Jeremiah’s messages in chs. 30-33 provided great encouragement for the exiles. Jeremiah proposed that the new covenant would be characterized by two realities: eternal forgiveness and heart-knowledge of the law of God. Jeremiah’s prophecies in chs. 30-33 contributed to the unfolding storyline of Scripture.
(1) Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus inaugurated the new covenant and eternal forgiveness of sins that Jeremiah had predicted in Jer 31:31-34. At the Passover Meal, Jesus took the cup and told His disciples that it represented not the Passover of Exodus 12-15 but something new. Jesus redefined the meaning of the cup. It now looked forward to the cross and eternal forgiveness that would be granted to those participating in the new covenant (Matt 26:26-29//Mark 14:22-25//Luke 22:15-20).
(2) Paul wrote that the new covenant celebration of the Lord’s Supper has horizontal implications. In 1 Cor 11:17-33, Paul chastised the Corinthians when the church gathered for their weekly fellowship, some arrived early and shared a privileged meal apart from the impoverished members among them. Then, when the full church assembled, they would partake of the Lord’s Supper. A socioeconomic division thus existed in the church with the result that some were drunk, and others were hungry. This division contradicted the message of love and self-sacrifice the Lord’s Supper proclaims. Those not partaking with a view to loving other members and sharing resources with those in need among them were eating and drinking judgement upon themselves, Paul said (1 Cor 11:27-29). The judgement was real. Some died for their insensitivity to their brothers and sisters.
(3) According to the author of Hebrews, the inauguration of the new covenant renders the old covenant obsolete. After quoting Jer 31:31-34 in Heb 8:8-12, the author stated, “By saying, a new covenant, He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear” (Heb 8:13). In Hebrews, the old covenant represents distance from God and the new represents access to God—through the blood of Jesus. Imagery of new covenant forgiveness in Jesus occurs repeatedly through the remaining chapters of Hebrews. Because Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant, the author argued, those called by God can be confident that they will receive an eternal inheritance, “because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant” (Heb 9:15b). The superior status of Jesus’ self-offering in the new covenant is seen in that after Jesus laid down His life, no other sacrifices ever need to be offered (Heb 10:11-18). The author contrasted the old covenant given at Mount Sinai, where the people were warned to stay back lest they die, and the celebratory new covenant inaugurated by Jesus’ sprinkled blood (Heb 12:22-24). In his benediction, the author of Hebrews wrote, “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will” (Heb 13:20-21a).