Questions From Readers
● Hebrews 8:10 states: “‘This is the covenant that I shall covenant with the house of Israel after those days,’ says Jehovah. ‘I will put my laws in their mind, and in their hearts I shall write them.”’ How, as mentioned in this text, are God’s dealings with those brought into the new covenant different from those who were under the old Law covenant?—U.S.A.
A consideration of the features of both covenants and the circumstances of those brought into the covenant relationship with God sheds light on the difference.
In the generations after Jehovah God brought the nation of Israel into a covenant, individual Israelites came into this covenant relationship by birth. They did not have to make a personal decision to be servants of Jehovah God. Accordingly, heart appreciation was not a prerequisite for being one of God’s covenant people. Yet throughout the course of history many individuals in the nation of Israel not only knew God’s law but also cultivated heart appreciation for it. Regarding the righteous one, Psalm 37:31 says: “The law of his God is in his heart.”
Nevertheless, there were features of the Law, including the sacrifices and cleansing procedures, that were not fully understood by the Israelites. This was because such features were pictorial of far greater things. Colossians 2:17 tells us: “Those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.” The Israelites carried out the ceremonial features of the Law primarily because they were commanded to do so and because of the strict penalties imposed for disobedience. Since they did not have the full understanding of these things, their heart appreciation was of necessity limited. Thus it can be seen that God’s law was not inscribed on the mind and heart of every Israelite.
However, all those brought into the new covenant must make a commitment or dedication to serve Jehovah as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. This calls for a public acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the resurrected Lord and for faith in God, the One who raised Jesus from the dead.—Rom. 10:8-10.
Without knowing God’s requirements for salvation and having a heart appreciation for them, a person simply could not exercise faith with his heart nor make a public declaration or acknowledgment with a view to becoming a baptized disciple of Jesus. Those brought into the new covenant as spirit-begotten Christians were first of all taught God’s requirements for salvation. Then, after Jehovah God opened their hearts to receive the divine “word” or message in an appreciative way, they were moved to make a dedication or commitment to live in harmony with God’s law as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. After symbolizing this dedication by water baptism, they were brought into the new covenant. Since Jehovah God made it possible for them to know and understand his law, as well as to have true heart appreciation for it, he indeed put his “laws in their mind” and wrote them “in their hearts,” not on stone tablets.