Jeremiah warns the people of Judah that God is about to let the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem and deport them because they have disobeyed God. That raises the question, “If God really is going to let our city be destroyed and send us into exile, what good is believing in Him? What good is faith?” In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God tells Jeremiah to reveal more about His plan and show His people where faith will eventually lead them.
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
- Covenants and contracts are agreements between two parties that defines the terms of their relationship.
- A contract is impersonal, legalistic and required because the two parties distrust each other.
- A covenant is based on gratitude, trust and hope and involves a commitment to act a certain way in a relationship.
- A bilateral covenant is a commitment made between two equal parties (e.g. marriage).
- A unilateral covenant is a commitment a greater party makes to a lessor party (e.g. father to his son; God to His people).
Unilateral Covenants in Scripture
(the nation of Israel,
|David||the son||2 Samuel 7|
|New Covenant||the cup||Jeremiah 31:31-34
2 Corinthians 3
Old Covenant vs New Covenant
Like a marriage, in the Old Covenant, the Lord declares “you are My people” and Israel promises, “you are the only God for us.” Under the Old Covenant, God’s people are required to keep all the law all the time. The Lord is NOT required to give second chances.
- Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
- Deuteronomy 5:29 ‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!
- Deuteronomy 5:33 “You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.
- Deuteronomy 28:58 “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, 59then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses.
- Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
- Deuteronomy 31:12 “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
- Deuteronomy 32:46 he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law.
- Leviticus 20:22 ‘You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out.
- Leviticus 26:14-16 ‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you:
Yet in the New Covenant, God offers His people a second chance. But this time, he gives us the Holy Spirit to make us into people who want to and can keep the law.
- In the Old Covenant, the law was written on stone tablets while sin was engraved on our stony hearts (Jeremiah 17:1-11). In the New Covenant, God will write the law on our hearts (Compare with Ezekiel 11:16-20).
- The Old Covenant required mediators — priests, prophets and Kings — to teach, administer and enforce the covenant. In the New Covenant, everyone from the greatest to the least will know the Lord.
- Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, God will forgive our sins, wipe out our debt to justice and give us His Spirit to change us into people who love and follow Him (see also Romans 8)
What good is faith? It changes everything. The blessing of having the law written on your heart is enjoyed by those who have faith. Faith is your ticket to the kingdom of heaven.
Saving faith is trusting God for holiness and that involves 4 things.
- A genuine desire for holiness in and of itself.
- A genuine understanding that left to myself I am totally incapable of obtaining holiness.
- A genuine understanding that God owes me nothing and I am totally unworthy of any gift from God.
- A firm trust that God — through the blood of Jesus Christ — both intends to and will in fact bring me into holiness in the age to come.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.