SPOKEN PRAYER: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
A New Covenant
by Pr. Dave Mann
Jeremiah lives in a very difficult time. The northern kingdom has already fallen to Assyria in 722 B.C. Jeremiah’s time of ministry spans from just before the fall of the southern kingdom in 586 B.C. to a few decades later. The glory of the united kingdom of Israel under David has been utterly smashed by the conquering Babylonians. Most of the population has been forced to march on foot into exile. Some have fled to Egypt. Others hide in caves in Judah until the enemies withdraw.
If you read the entire chapter of Jeremiah 31, you will discover a curious mixture of emotions. There is weeping, wailing, and deep sadness. However, there is also great joy and confidence in the unfailing faithfulness of the Lord, despite all the atrocities brought on by Israel’s unfaithfulness to the covenant established through Moses at Mt. Sinai.
Most importantly, there is the declaration of a new covenant. This new covenant is promised to come into being at some future time. Under this covenant, God’s law will not be carved in two tablets of stone, but rather it will be etched into the hearts of people. We will have an internal motivation to obey the law, not out of fear or obligation but rather out of the joy of gratitude. Forgiveness will flow from the Spirit of God to our spirit.
Imagine Jeremiah looking around at the rubble, the carnage, the smoke rising from what used to be the holy temple of God. More than that, Jeremiah’s heart is broken. Then, the Lord speaks to him of a new vision, a new day, a new covenant. The prophet quickly scrambles to find some sheets of parchment, a quill, and some ink. “I’ve got to get this written down while the anointing is still upon me!” Fortunately, Baruch his trusted secretary, no doubt, has the supplies ready to be called into service.
When your life is in ruins, listen to the Spirit, perhaps He will remind you of the promise of the new covenant in Jesus under which we live now. This new covenant was instituted when Jesus held up the bread and the cup on Maundy Thursday, and of which we partake each Sunday morning.
Lord Jesus, I am eternally grateful for your new covenant. In my moments of pain and sadness, remind me of your great gift, free-flowing forgiveness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.