Written On Our Hearts

Today’s Reading:  Jeremiah 32-42

When we choose a spouse, we are not only getting a husband or wife, we are getting a whole family!  Some of you are already laughing because you know the hard core truth of that statement.  The love of your life comes with parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins…  They come with their traditions, their norms and their expectations.  So when I said my vows to Scott, I was also making a commitment to become a Sherwood.  I remember how awkward it felt to start calling them “Mom” and “Dad”, but now they are just my parents.  I love them with all my heart.  They are my people.  

“I will be their God and they will be my people” (Exodus 6:7).

These are the powerful words of God when He made a covenant with His people – the promise to hold onto as God sent Moses to Pharoah with the command to let His people go.  It is interesting that God uses these words again through the prophet Jeremiah as His people are once more entering captivity.  He reminds them that, just as He rescued them from Egypt, He has plans to deliver them from the exile they are beginning in Babylon.  

We may read right over those words without thinking much of them, but to the people of Judah, “I will be their God and they will be my people” meant something.  It reminded them that God had once rescued them and made a covenant with them on Mt. Sinai – a covenant written on stone tablets that required them to obey ten commandments as a way of remaining faithful to God, the first of which they broke over and over again – “You must not have any other god before me” (Exodus 20:3).

“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  This covenant will NOT be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of Egypt.  They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves a wife,” says the Lord.  “But this is the NEW COVENANT I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord.  “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people…And I will forgive them their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34

This new covenant would not be written on stone tablets, it would be written on their hearts.  The old covenant required obedience and faithfulness to the God who met with their leader on the mountain while they stayed at a distance.  The new covenant would be deep within each individual child of God, written on their hearts as each one had the opportunity to experience a personal God living within them.  

What a God of restoration we serve!!!  God’s people were experiencing the fury of God while He equipped Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take His people captive for 70 years.  Yet, in the midst of this sentencing, God was expressing love and promising to bring them home again starting over with a new covenant that would draw them closer to Him instead of pushing them away – a covenant that would last forever!

“They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.  And I will make an EVERLASTING COVENANT with them:  I will never stop doing good for them.  I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.  I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” – Jer. 32:38-41

These words of God are repeated in Hebrews 8:8-12 and explained in Hebrews 9 & 10, helping us understand that the new covenant was put in place when Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins.  But first let’s look at Romans 8:3, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.  So God did what the law could not do.  He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have.  And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”

Hebrews 9:1 and verses 6-8 explain why the temple and its traditions had to be destroyed as Jeremiah prophesied:  That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth…When these things were in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties.  But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year.  And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.  By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.  

With the old covenant, God’s people were not given access to freely enter His presence as we are given now.  Because Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins by the power of the eternal Spirit, He mediates a new covenant with God as he appears before God on our behalf.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him (Heb. 10:20-22a).

So here I am today, enjoying my morning coffee in the presence of a God I can trust and it all goes back to the time we have studied as we read through 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, as well as the books of the prophets and now the book of Jeremiah.  The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple Solomon built led the way to a new and everlasting covenant through the death of the perfect sacrifice – Jesus Christ.  

Heavenly Father, thank you for writing this covenant on my heart.  You have given me one heart and one purpose:  to worship you forever!  You have placed a desire in my heart to worship you and I will never leave you!  I will find joy in doing good for you because you find joy in doing good for me.  I will serve you faithfully and wholeheartedly because you are a faithful and wholehearted God!  Lord, I soak in your presence this morning with a sincere heart, fully trusting you!