Going Deeper 03.17.2021

The first reading for Lent 5... Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 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. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

This text has long been understood by Christians as pointing to the "new covenant" established by Jesus... and ultimately it does find its final fulfillment there.  But as is the case with all Old Testament texts, the word of the Lord spoken through His prophets first had in mind something closer on the horizon.  It is important not to ignore the original context of texts.

For Jeremiah, the concept of "new covenant" is likely understood in the context of God's next rescue event-- the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian Exile.  As the Covenant formed at Mount Sinai called for remembering and responding to God's rescue from the Egyptians, the "new covenant" would call for a new kind of remembering and responding.  This time, instead of the "law"​being written on tablets of stone, God would put His "law within them"... written on their hearts.  Instead of needing priests and prophets to teach them, they would all "Know the Lord" for themselves.

Yes, this "new covenant" is ultimately brought to fruition through the mission and passion of Jesus.  Thus, it is vital that we understand the need for our covenant relationship with God to be internalized, indelibly written on our hearts.  Yes, we may need to remind one another and teach one another, but we are invited through Jesus to come to fully "Know the Lord" in a direct relationship, experiencing His love and trusting His presence continually.

And the outcome of knowing the Lord is transformation.  God's grace-- "I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more"-- and love flow both to us and through us.  As this process continues, we come to understand that the "Law of Christ"-- that we love as we have been loved-- is at the heart of our desire to follow Jesus, remembering and responding to His rescuing us from sin and death.

With You in His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"