Summary: LENT 5(B) - God’s covenant is new and improved: God’s old covenant was good and God’s new covenant is even better.
GOD’S COVENANT IS NEW AND IMPROVED (Outline)
JEREMIAH 31:31-24 - March 13, 2005 - LENT 5
INTRO: What is the meaning of the word covenant (repeated in today’s text and part of our theme this morning)? Simply defined covenant means an agreement. It is much like a contract made between two people. A covenant can also mean promise. Today we will learn how God’s covenant is a promise that is one-sided. God makes his covenant. God fulfills his covenant. The responsibility is on his shoulders. One quick example is from the time of the flood in Genesis. After the flood Noah and his family and two of every living creature came out of the ark, arriving on dry ground. God then makes a covenant with all of mankind. "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth"(GENESIS 9:16). God would see his rainbow and remember his promise to never destroy the world with a flood. Today people every-where in the world can still look up and see God’s rainbow signature on his contract (covenant) with man.
As we look at these words of Jeremiah we are going to discover GOD’S COVENANT IS NEW AND IMPROVED. I. God’s old covenant was good, II. God’s new covenant is even better.
I. GOD’S OLD COVENANT WAS GOOD
A. Jeremiah was God’s prophet for the nation of Israel as they were captives in Babylon.
1. Due to continual disobedience the people were enduring the Lord’s drastic discipline.
2. Jeremiah is going to help the people focus on the good that is yet to come.
B. In verse 31a Israel is told to look forward to a new covenant, which the Lord will make with them.
1. Verse 31b told the people that their nation would be reunited as God’s children
2. Previously Israel was the northern Kingdom and Judah the southern.
C. This new covenant would be much different from the old covenant. Verse 32.
1. God had already delivered his people from bondage in Egypt. Yet they broke his covenant.
2. God’s people did not keep the Ten Commandments given to them at Mt. Sinai.
3. God meant this covenant of the law to give direction and guidance for his people.
D. Today God’s ten commandments are still under attack. Many try to hide this covenant God made with his people from sight. This code seems too strict and restrictive to many in our nation today. But where would we be without law? Make no mistake the laws we have today have their foundation in that first code of laws, the Ten Commandments. They have provided blessings through out many generations. "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"(JOHN 1:16,17).
E. People of the Old Testament realized the importance of God’s covenant found in his laws. True, the law of God revealed sin. The law of God also curbed the rash outbreak of sin. And, for believers the law of God served and still serves as a guideline. We all need direction in our lives for Christian living. Di-rection and guidance is valuable and important for everyone. God’s old covenant is good. "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giv-ing light to the eyes"(PSALM 19:7,8). Law, statutes, precepts, commands are all part of God’s promise.
F. There is a main reason that the old covenant was not quite as good as the new. That main reason is that the old covenant focused attention on what was still to come. The old covenant was pointing ahead. At times we remember to keep looking ahead for what is yet to come. At other times we might forget to keep looking ahead. In either case the old covenant was to help the believer look forward to the coming of the new covenant revealed in Jesus Christ. "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith"(GALATIANS 3:23,24).
TRANS: GOD’S COVENANT IS NEW AND IMPROVED. Just as God’s old covenant was good, so
II. GOD’S NEW COVENANT IS EVEN BETTER
A. This was a great joy for Jeremiah to bring the gospel message of hope and a future for God’s people.
1. The message Jeremiah brought was not his message but the Lord’s message.
2. Verse 33a = declares the LORD. This is going to be a new covenant from the Lord God.