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After reading yesterday’s passage of hope and joy, we have one lingering fear. How do we know it won’t happen all over again and that history won’t repeat itself after Israel has returned to the Promised Land?
With prophetic insight Jeremiah answers this question. This is the only place in the Old Testament that speaks of a new covenant, and one of the Old Testament’s profoundest insights.
A covenant (v 31 NIV, ESV) is an agreement (v 31 CEV) but it is more than that. It is binding. As we live through a time when there is discussion of renegotiating treaties like NAFTA and NATO, we realize that even the most powerful political agreements are fragile. A covenant made with God is different. God never changes his mind when it comes to his relationship with us. Even if we break our side of the covenant, he remains faithful.
But the covenant that God had made with Moses and others in the Old Testament was simply not enough. Something more was needed. Our very selves need to be changed if we are to keep God’s covenant.
The new covenant would not be written on stone tablets, like the old covenant, but on our hearts – our minds, understanding and will.
Six hundred years later God identified with us in the person of Jesus and died on the cross to take away our sins. He rose from the dead and when he left the physical world, gave us his Spirit to live in us. We remember this every time we take communion and hear Jesus’ words again, “This is my blood of the new covenant.” The covenant on our hearts is not static, but dynamic, as the Holy Spirit transforms us day by day into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, I’m amazed at the depth of your love for us. How can I ever thank you for what you have done for us? Thank you for the gift of your Spirit who lives in us and makes it possible for us to keep our part of the covenant. I’m filled with joy as I think about this. Amen.