A New Covenant (Jeremiah 31 – part 9)

editor - 14 April 2020

Jeremiah lived in the time when Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Even the Temple would be destroyed and Judah would be carried away to Babel. And still he was allowed to speak about a beautiful promise and prophecy about the triumph of God’s mercy.

““The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” (Jeremiah 31:31).

The people of God has failed and has stranded in her relationship with the Lord, but God continues. The Babylonian Captivity is not the end. By now we know that the word “covenant” in the Bible is not a treaty. The synonyms of the Hebrew word for “Brit” are oath and promise. And that is what this is all about here as well.

God doesn’t firstly ask of His people a new dedication, faith and obedience. That is what they stranded in in the first place. No, He comes to the rescue of them in their lack of power and ultimately gives them both remission of all sins and gives His own Spirit. His own Spirit will put the Torah and the obedience to the commandments in the heart of His people. And Israel is standing by with amazement.

“Passover is not only a day of commemoration, it is also a feast of hope.”

During the celebration of the Seder meal, Jesus and His disciples commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. But Passover is not only a day of commemoration, it is also a feast of hope. God has not changed and time and again, now as well, the Lord will redeem His people.

Better than anyone Jesus knows what that means and how He Himself will play the leading part in it. His beloved disciple John will explain later that Jesus is God’s Paschal Lamb that will carry the burden of sins and that will take care of a new liberation, the gathering in of God’s people from all corners of the world.

But Jesus also speaks on this last evening before His dying about the New Covenant. That comes into force tomorrow caused by His sacrifice. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood …” (Luke 22:20), He says, when He lets the twelve drink the wine. It is good to realize that the Lord intends this promise in the first place for Judah and Israel. And also, that it is about all twelve tribes.

The days about which Jeremiah spoke, are the last days. The gifts of the New Covenant have everything to do with that. We also notice that in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3). It is not about the fact that Jesus disapproves of everything that this pharisee does and believes, his love for God. But Jesus shows him that the Kingdom is near and that you as a man can only live there without sins and with the Spirit of God. And that gift of the last days Jesus can and want to give him.

Since then, years and centuries have passed. Because God first wanted the gentiles to inherit the gifts of this covenant. For two thousand years the Lord lets us share in Israel’s spiritual properties (Romans 15:27). And thus, we celebrate Passover with Israel together. We sit at the table and the cup passes round. But the Kingdom will not start without God bringing Judah and Israel home and will give what He promised them in Jeremiah’s days.

About the Author