Summary: God was giving Jeremiah a chance to be a messenger of hope. There was to be a new covenant. But when was this covenant to take effect and who would be part of it?
OPEN: I recently ran across a “good news” “bad news” joke for preachers:
Good News: You baptized four people down at the river last Sunday
Bad News: You lost 2 others to the river’s current
Good News: You finally found a choir director who did things your way.
Bad News: The choir mutinied
Good news: The Women’s group voted to send you a get-well card.
Bad news: The vote passed 21-20.
Good news: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks.
Bad news: You were on vacation.
Good News: Mrs. Jones is wild about your sermons
Bad News: Mrs. Jones is also wild about the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre."
Good News: The board just accepted 100% the job description just the way you wrote it.
Bad News: They also formed a search committee to find someone to fill the position.
APPLY: Jeremiah has the distinction of being known as the “weeping prophet” and with good reason… it seemed (even to Jeremiah) that all he ever talked about was bad news. At one point Jeremiah cried out: Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction...” (Jeremiah 20:8).
It seemed that every time he opened his mouth he declared judgment and destruction and death.
But here in this part of Jeremiah, all that changes. In this section of his book, Jeremiah is allowed to give a message of hope.
In Jeremiah 30:14 God told Judah: “I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many.”
But then three verses later He declared: “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds… because you are called an outcast...’” Jeremiah 30:17
In fact God promised them: “I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.” Jeremiah 30:18-19
In the midst of all of these words of encouragement Jeremiah introduces what I believe is perhaps one of the most important statements in all Scripture. You’ll find it in chapter 31:31-35 (REREAD)
God was telling Israel, through the prophet Jeremiah that something new was coming. A new Covenant - or a new contract – that would bring a dramatic change in God’s relationship with His people.
I. When was this New Contract to take effect?
The Book of Hebrews tells us that you and I are living under that contract it right now!
Hebrews 9:15 tells us that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant… now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
In other words, when Jesus died on the cross the blood that He shed was His signature on the bottom line of this New contract.
(PICK UP A COMMUNION CUP) In fact, every time you take of communion, Jesus said that you should remember that He paid for this new contract with His blood:
“(Jesus) took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” Luke 22:20
Jeremiah 31 is telling us that God was going to write a New Contract with His people.
It wasn’t going to be like the Old Contract Israel had been living under for more than 1000 yrs.
This was going to be something entirely new
But… now why would God want to write a new contract for His people?
ILLUS: Several years ago, when you bought a house you would have been lucky to get a mortgage rate of 9 to 10%. But then, the interest rates went down and banks began to offer mortgages for about half that.
What did people do? (wait for an answer)
That’s right, a lot of people marched on down to the banks and refinanced their homes. They asked the banks to make out “new contracts” with lower monthly payments for the home owner.
You see… the only reason anyone would ever want a new contract is because it’s better than the old one was.
So also, God’s New Contract was going to be newer and better than the old.
II. But, what made God’s new contract / new covenant/ so much better than the old?
Quite a lot actually.
First God created a new relationship for His people
The Old Contract was something you were born into. If you were born of Jewish parents, you were an Israelite. You were an Israelite because all your family had been Israelites. It wasn’t a choice that you made – it was pretty much made for you.