31The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It 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. 33But 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. 34No 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.
“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” What a comfort to hear from God, not only during the time this passage was written, but also for us now. This passage was written during a not-so-good time in the history of Israel. They had been overtaken by the Babylonians and were in exile in Babylon. Just think of what might have been going through their minds. They had been living in the Promised Land and had been victorious over many different nations. But, time after time, they had broken their covenant with God and had worshiped false gods and exile was their punishment.
But, even in this time of exile, God is still trying to be in relationship with the Israelites and mend the brokenness of their (and our) sinful lives. This is one of the basic truths Martin Luther sought to get the Roman Church to remember during the Reformation. It is not up to us. God continued, and continues, to remember that we are God’s people and God will do anything God can do to make sure that this relationship is made whole, even if it means that God had to enter into our world through Christ. Jesus Christ, the new covenant, forever sealed this relationship between God and God’s people. Through Jesus, we are shown God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love. And there is nothing we can do to stop it. God freely gives it to us because we are God’s chosen and precious creation. This was true for the Israelites, for Martin Luther, and for us today.
Just as the God of Jeremiah forgave the Israelites and they returned to the Promised Land, God continues to forgive, reform, and call God’s people into relationship with God and with one another. Even though we certainly do not deserve God’s grace, God continues, each and every day, to remind us just how much we are loved by our Creator. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
Thank you, God, for establishing the new covenant with your people. Through the death and resurrection of your Son, you have given us the greatest gift, the forgiveness of our sins and the promise that you will always be with us. Help us to remember that we are your chosen people and that each and every day you call us to be in relationship with you and one another, carrying out your love in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Pastor Adam Connolly
Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship