Read Jeremiah 31:31-34.
We live in a fast-paced world. We aren’t accustomed to waiting. We get impatient waiting too long for things, or our morning coffee, or the latest news headlines to load on our smart device, or the third season of The Crown to be released on Netflix (I’ve had the release date in my calendar for months). We generally aren’t great with waiting for things to happen. We get impatient and wonder if it’s worth waiting for. The longer we wait, the more we are prone to question the worth of waiting. But as we come to this passage in Jeremiah, God promises something that is going to blow the minds of his people. It is truly something worth waiting for.
This passage contains a wonderful promise that God makes to his people. He promises a time that is coming that will far exceed their expectations and will make all their waiting worthwhile. Notice what the passage says, “It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt” (v32). We looked at the passage from Exodus where God confirmed his covenant with Israel at Mt Sinai, having led them out of their slavery in Egypt. We also know that Israel rebelled and sinned against God, which caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years before their arrival in Canaan. Notice that God opens his promise with “the days are coming”. A time of waiting patiently for God to fulfil his promises is required before this new covenant will be brought in. What’s so great about this new covenant? God lists out the features – (1) “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts”, (2) “I will be their God and they will be my people”, (3) “no longer will they teach their neighbour…because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
While the Law was given to the people, they only continued to sin and rebel against God. No sacrificial system was enough to cleanse them and to keep them faithful to God. God says that they won’t need to worry about this anymore, because his law will be in their hearts and minds, so much so that they will all know him, as their God and they as his people. This is far, far greater than any new Netflix season to look forward to. God is going to remedy the problem of the human heart. The source of their sin and rebellion is about to be corrected so God can truly call them his people and they will know him as their God. On what basis will God be able to do this? Well, the answer comes to us in the last verse of this passage: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
The basis of this covenant is not that God will simply forget that we grieve him with our sin and rebellion, but that he will forgive the people of their sin and rebellion. While the passage doesn’t explicitly say how this is going to happen, if you know your Bible well enough, you’d know that this will be achieved through the cross work of Jesus Christ. God cannot simply forget our sin, but in his grace, he offers up his beloved son to pay the price for our sin and rebellion. The original readers of the prophecy of Jeremiah would’ve died waiting for these promises to be fulfilled, imagine how they would’ve felt, wondering if the wait was going to be worthwhile. But we know that their waiting was not wasted, for God has so perfectly fulfilled his promises in the sending of Jesus, whose coming we celebrate at Christmas, and whose second coming we, just as the people of the Old Testament did, eagerly await now. Our wait will most certainly be worthwhile!
- Pray that God will open our eyes and know the depth of his love for us.
- Pray that we will be eagerly anticipate the coming of Christ again.