Peace be with you!
Before the contractor could start building our house, Jerry and I had to secure a construction loan from the bank. We had to prove we had the money to make the monthly payments; we also had to prove the house was worth the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars we were asking from the bank. The application process was slow and drawn out. We eventually got the loan and signed our lives away, so the builder could begin his work.
Once the house was built, we had to get another appraisal, a building inspection, and a water test done before we could convert the construction loan into a normal mortgage with a lower interest rate. However, since the pool was not complete when Jerry and I moved in, we could not turn the construction loan into a mortgage until it was finished. After a few months of headaches, we finally passed all of the necessary inspections and signed our lives away again. Despite all of the complexities, the change was needed so that Jerry and I could move into something more permanent than my parents’ home where we had been staying.
The Israelites have a strict covenant with God that was set up in the wilderness. The prophet Jeremiah has the unenviable task of publicly declaring the covenant failures and sin of the Israelites. Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry was to a nation who had become involved with idol worship for decades under the rule of Manasseh. Since the sins of the Israelites ran deep and there was no forthcoming repentance, Judah and Jerusalem were facing destruction.
The covenant God gave the Israelites provided a road map to live by and to be in a relationship with him. The covenant was a strict set of rules for the Israelites to follow to remain holy in the Lord. However, the Israelites lived in the world where they faced temptations by Satan every day. Since they were not perfect like God, the Israelites fell short of his expectations and became unholy. This separated the Israelites from God and broke their relationship with him.
It is in this environment that Israelites begin to understand the covenant that they made with the Lord in the wilderness is impossible to keep. Imperfect, fallen people who live in the world where Satan reigns can never keep the covenant. The Lord made this covenant to show the Israelites that they could not be holy without his divine intervention. The Israelites struggle everyday to uphold the Ten Commandments and to beat Satan at his deceptive ways. Darkness surrounds the Israelites as they try to live in the world according to the covenant.
God makes plans to create a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:32) to reclaim his relationship with the Israelites. The new covenant will reclaim the Israelites as his people (Jeremiah 31:33) and bring them back into a relationship with the Lord. The Lord promises to their God, and the Israelites will be his people (Jeremiah 31:33). The Lord desperately wants to be their God by being in a relationship with them. However, God knows the current covenant will never allow this to happen. A change needs to occur to allow this to happen.
Instead of having the laws written on tablets, God wants to write them on the Israelites’ hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Although in Western culture, the heart connotes emotional feeling, in the world of the Old Testament, the heart signified cognitive reaction. In other words, this writing of the Law on hearts means that the Israelites will know and understand the Law and be able to follow them to their best ability.
And there is more: God promises to forgive the Israelites’ shortcomings. God will no longer remember the Israelites’ sins or hold their sins against them (Jeremiah 31:34). The Israelites (and we) will be freed from out sinful pasts through God’s forgiveness.
These changes allow us to be in a more permanent relationship with God the Father. Forgiveness gives us the opportunity to really know God and to be able to carry out his plan.
Allow God to create a clean heart in you, to make a new and right spirit within you (Psalm 51:10). We need God’s cleansing in order to know the Triune God.
This is the beginning to the ending: Jesus came to walk on earth beside us in order to feel our pain and joy. Then he did something incredible: he became God’s living sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, went to hell for three days, rose again and ascended into heaven.
And still God’s promise is not fully fulfilled. Jesus is coming back for us – those who believe in the Triune God – to take us to heaven to be with God the Father. So as we look towards Holy Week – and Easter – remember this is not the end; it is just the beginning.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the new covenant which extends forgiveness to us and renews our relationship with you. Help us to understand that this is just a beginning to the end. You have greater plans for us than we can imagine. You have claimed, are claiming, and will continue to claim us as your children by redeeming us from our sins. Thank you for creating a clean heart in us. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. Where do you find God? How does God find you?
2. How does God continue to redeem you?