Thursday 04 June 2015

Bible Book:

"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (v.33)

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Thursday 4 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 148



There are a number of covenants between God and the people ofGod in the Old Testament. There is the covenant between God andNoah after the flood, and by extension with all humanity (Genesis 9). There is the covenant with Abrahamand his successors (Genesis 17:1-8). There is the covenant made onSinai with Moses as he leads the people through the wilderness tothe Promised Land (Exodus 19:1-9), and it is this covenant that is"the covenant that I [God] made with their ancestors when I tookthem by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt".

Some covenants were unconditional, they stood irrespective of theresponse and behaviour of the people. Others were conditional uponthe people keeping the requirements of the covenant. The covenantmade on Sinai and referred to in this passage is a conditional one,and the people have broken it because they have failed to keeptheir side of the commitment. Despite God's forbearance, time andtime again, the people failed to meet their obligations, with theresult that the covenant lapses and the people find themselves inexile.

What is needed is a new covenant and one that the people cannotbreak. Like the old covenant it will be made with the 'house ofIsrael' - in other words, with the people as a whole. As with theold covenant, in the new one "I will be their God, and they shallbe my people". And like the old covenant, it will be based onlaw.

However, the fundamental difference will be that in the newcovenant God "will put my law within them, and [I] will write it ontheir hearts". To the Hebrew mind 'the heart' does not refer to theemotions but to the thought and the will. The people will be givena mind and a will to keep the law and obedience will come naturallyto them. Because it will be natural to them it will no longer needto be taught and learnt.

There are some important New Testament echoes to this passage.Paul's account of the Lord's Supper (1Corinthians 11) and Luke's account (Luke22) refer to the cup of wine as "the blood of the newcovenant"; interestingly, Matthew and Mark don't use the word'new'.

To Ponder

  • To what extent is there something in the human make-up that,despite our best efforts, we seem incapable of overcoming?
  • How might this passage interpret and be interpreted by John15, where Jesus talks about the vine and the branches, abidingin and coming to make a home with the believer?
Previous Page Wednesday 03 June 2015
Next Page Friday 05 June 2015