Going Deeper 10-15-19

The first reading for Pentecost 19…

Jeremiah 31:27-34   The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals.  And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord.  In those days they shall no longer say: "The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."  But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.  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.


We have heard from the prophet Jeremiah quite a few times in the last month or so, most of which have been words of doom and gloom judgment upon Israel and Judah.  Most of the proclamations of this man nicknamed “the weeping prophet” are filled with warnings and predictions of horrible things to come.  And as Jeremiah’s words are ignored, the judgments come to pass.


However, as part of a section of Jeremiah called “The Book of Consolations” (chapters 30-33), this week’s reading points beyond the doom and gloom and proclaims hope for the future.  No matter how terrible of a mess God’s people continue to make, God will not fully reject.  In these words we hear Gospel amidst all of the Law.  We hear of building and planting, and of a new covenant.  And we hear of grace: “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”


There are (of course) different interpretations as to what is meant by the “new covenant” Jeremiah speaks of.  One commentator I read this morning claims that Christians have misinterpreted this forever, claiming that Jeremiah had in mind a new covenant to be made with the remnant when they returned from the Babylonian exile late in Old Testament history.  However, most scholars and commentators believe Jeremiah is prophesying about the promise fulfilled when Jesus took the cup and proclaimed “This is the new covenant in my blood.” 


Of course, as I am very prone to do, I believe that both perspectives are true.  This is true of many, many Old Testament prophecies… they point to BOTH a fulfillment in the near future AND an ultimate fulfillment in the coming of Jesus, the Christ/Messiah.


Either way, what is most important for us to hear in this text is that God’s desire is always to heal and restore.  No matter how big of a mess we might make of things, He invites us to repent, receive grace, and seek restoration.  That offer has never changed… and it never will!


With You in His Grace,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."