"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, " declares the LORD. 33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 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," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NASB)
this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 37 I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (Jeremiah 32:37-40 NASB)
14 " 'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 " 'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.' 17 For this is what the LORD says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.' " (Jeremiah 33:14-18 NASB)In the years leading up to Israel's ruin, and their captivity in Babylon, God sent them prophets, many of them, to warn them, and to try and help them see what they were doing wrong so they could change in time.
Not many listened to them. Jeremiah was told by God to tell the King of Judah that destruction was coming. The king didn't like that much, so he had Jeremiah arrested instead of turning back to God.
But among all of the terrible things God gave Jeremiah to say, all of the dire predictions about the coming destruction, all of which came to pass, he also gave him these words of comfort.
Here are promises that God made to his people, in the time before they went back into exile, about a time when he would bring them back to the land he gave to their forefathers, and when he would make a new covenant with them.
He would write his law in their hearts and minds. They would know God personally and not need anyone else, prophet or otherwise, to tell them what God wanted, they would just know. He would give them singleness of heart and action, so that the things they want to do, to obey, to keep God's laws, they would now have the strength to do them.
Does it remind you of anything?
When was the last time people had God's law in their hearts, and just knew God?
How about in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, when they had the Breath of Life in them?
God has promised to forgive all their sin and forget their wickedness. It would be the same as it had been in the beginning. Maybe even better.
Some people in Babylon remembered these promises, and held onto them. They looked long and hard for evidence of God's forgiveness, and his breath, or spirit, (the words are almost exactly the same in Hebrew) coming back to them.
Several hundred years after Jeremiah there would still be people looking for the evidence of God's forgiveness. They would find it in the most unexpected of places, and in the most unexpected of ways.