Jeremiah 31, 33=The New Covenant
Bible Background: This mid-section of Jeremiah, nicknamed “The book of Comfort”, is where we hear beautiful words of hope and promise. The God who judges is also the God who saves. And God’s judgement is not mainly about punishment. It’s about God making a way to renew and restore the people and the nation of Judah.
Digging Deeper: 1. “Covenants” in the Old Testament are key promises between God and the people (starting with Noah, then Abraham & Sarah, the people of Israel at Sinai, etc.). The age-old problem, though, was that humans never seem able to keep their promises to be faithful to God. (No surprise, really!)
2. The “new” covenant Jeremiah proclaims is different by design: God will take total responsibility for keeping the covenant! And, God will write God’s law on human hearts! God can’t make people know, obey, or trust God. But God will give every opportunity and every reason for them to do that.
3. There’s an amazing promise in chapter 31 about how God “will forgive their iniquities and remember their sin no more.” God promises to forgive and forget! What more could sinners ask for? It’s as if a criminal’s record is expunged-completely erased-so that a person can make a fresh start.
4. The tantalizing promise in chapter 33 is of a “righteous Branch to spring up for David….he shall execute righteousness and justice in the land.” Both Jews and Christians would read this as a promise of a Messiah, who would come from King David’s family line (Joseph’s ancestry is traced back to David, even if he is not the biological father of Jesus!). Righteousness has to do with ‘right relationships’, and Justice-is God’s expansive justice-not just enforcing the law, but everyone being treated fairly and getting what they need, rather than what they might deserve. How does this lead us to pray for our nation, and to work for right relationships and real justice hear and now?
5. The New Testament, is also titled “The New Covenant”. God is the same God, showing steadfast love and mercy. But in Christ Jesus God does a very new and bold thing: God comes to us. Shows us how to love. Makes forgiveness and new life possible. Dies for us. And when Jesus was celebrating the Last Supper with his disciples, what did he say? “This cup, is the new covenant (sealed with) my blood, shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin!” Every time we participate in Holy Communion, we’re claiming and benefitting from God’s new covenant, God’s ever-new promises!