A New Covenant.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” – Jeremiah 31:33-34 NLT
Do you ever wonder just what kind of God it is that you worship? What is He really like? Is He angry, demanding, and unrealistic in His expectations of us as human beings? Are His standards too high and His punishment too severe? Or is He a God who turns a blind eye to our sins, lovingly overlooking our disobedience and compassionately tolerating our inability or unwillingness to keep His commands or follow His ways? The truth is, a lot of it seems to depend on the version of God we construct from reading the Scriptures. If you favor the New Testament of the Old, you probably have a view of God that is more loving, merciful, and forgiving. If you prefer the Old Testament, you might have a more hardline view of God – as a righteous deity who hates sin and deals with rebellion severely and unapologetically. Most of us, if we’re honest, have somewhat one-dimensional perspectives of God. Depending on how we were raised and the kind of religious upbringing we have experienced, our view on God can vary greatly.
But the book of Jeremiah paints a well-rounded, comprehensive and complete picture of God. It presents a vision of God that appears at time contradictory, but in the end is complimentary. Jeremiah’s God is holy and righteous, unwavering in His hatred for sin and unapologetic in His demand that His people live holy lives. He punishes, disciplines, and even destroys the disobedient. He brings judgment on those who refuse to play by His rules. But there is another view of God in the book of Jeremiah. He is also compassionate, loving, kind, extremely merciful and incredibly tolerant and forgiving. Even I read that history of the people of Israel and wonder how God could have put up with them for so long. I marvel at their stubbornness and stupidity. I cringe at their arrogance and pride. And I have no problem understanding why God finally seems to give up on them, choosing to send them into exile and out of His Promised Land. But amazingly, God never really gives up on them. He never stops loving them. Even His punishment of them is motivated by love. He says, “Is not Israel still my son, my darling child? I often have to punish him, but I still love Him” (Jeremiah 31:20 NLT). God’s love for the people of Israel remains undiminished, even though they remain unresponsive to it. He continues to care for them, despite their callousness towards Him. And He has promised to one day restore them to the land and back into His favor. He tells the people of Israel, “In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 31:28 NLT). There is a day coming, God says, when He will make a new covenant with the people of Israel. This won’t be a conditional covenant like the one He made with Moses, that required the people of Israel to keep the Law and obey God’s commands in order to remain in His favor. They broke that covenant. No, this new covenant will be unconditional and solely based on God alone. This time God is going to write His law on their hearts. It will not be external, based on their self-effort to try and keep God’s commands, but it will be internal, flowing from changed hearts that have been transformed by God Himself. The day is coming when God will do for Israel what they could not do for themselves. He will provide them with the capability to live in faith and obedience. He will give them new hearts and a renewed relationship with Him – a relationship based not on works, but mercy and grace. The day is coming when God will restore His people and the city of Jerusalem. He will extend love, mercy, grace and forgiveness to the very people who had rejected not only His Law, but His own Son. In spite of all that they have done to reject and replace Him, He will show love. That is the kind of God we worship. He is holy, just, righteous, loving, kind, merciful, gracious and forgiving. He is patient and He is always right and righteous in how He deals with us. Our God is great!
Father, You are great and greatly to be praised. I am amazed at Your love and mercy. You put up with so much from us as human beings. You have every right to destroy us for our disobedience, but You continue to show us mercy and extend to us Your grace. You punish us, but still love us. And You are not done with us yet. Thank You! Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men