A NEW COVENANT
Lord, thank You for a new and better covenant
Read HEBREWS 8:7–13
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said[a]:
“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.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”[b]
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.’ (Luke 22:20). I begin by letting these words reverberate in my heart..
Today’s reading focuses on the new covenant, a treasure chest of God’s promises and the obligations which they incur and enable. I take time to survey the 15 occurrences of the word ‘covenant’ in Hebrews: 7:22; 8:6,8,9,10; 9:4,15,20; 10:16,29; 12:24; 13:20 (In Heb 9:16 and 17 this word is rendered ‘will’). The first reference in the Bible to ‘covenant’ is God’s promise to Noah in Genesis 6:18; Hebrews 13:20 is the last reference in the New Testament. In the ordinary language of law, for example, ‘covenant’ means something like ‘agreement’, or ‘contract’, but in the Bible the word refers to God’s promise, ‘I will be your God and you shall be my people’ (See Gen 17:7,8; Exod 6:7; Rev 21:2,3). Moses read the ‘Book of the Covenant’ to the Israelites in Exodus 24:7; it was summarized on two stone tablets in Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:19 shows Moses breaking these tablets when he saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf; two new stone tablets were prepared in Exodus 34. These stories encapsulate the whole sorry history of Israel, which Jeremiah also experienced – the Israelites have broken and forsaken the covenant but – wonder of wonders – God is going to make a new covenant with His people because of His everlasting love (Jer 11:10; 22:9; 31:31; 31:3).
This is the focus of the delighted and long quotation from Jeremiah in today’s reading. In many European churches in the past it was possible to see the Ten Commandments written in stone, but it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to write these commandments in our minds and hearts and to give us (all of us, not just a priestly class) the power to fulfill them. Our world (and our lives?) are strewn with broken promises, which causes us to be suspicious of grace. Jesus is the mediator and the guarantor of this new covenant; the depth of His commitment is measured by His blood poured out for us.
‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.’ (Luke 22:20) For this, with all my heart, with all my life, I love You, Lord.
Lord, thank You for being merciful to those of us within Your covenant. Thank You for forgetting our sins and transgressions.