A CHANGE IS NEEDED
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord.’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord,” for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
My daughter is getting married; any of you went through that? As I was thinking about something that were old, like the old covenant and something that are new, like the new covenant for today’s sermon, it made me think about my daughters wedding and the old saying for weddings “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” So I had to find out what that was. The something old signifies a sense of continuity, tradition and represents the link to the bride’s old life and her family. Traditionally this was an old garter, which was given to the bride by a happily married woman (which is getting harder to find you know) in the hope that her happiness in marriage would be passed on to the new bride. And the something new, signified hope for the future. Some times it was the brides gown or any new item purchased.
In the same ways God takes the old, with its laws and strict obedience and looks to the future to see there is a new covenant coming. We know that is through Jesus.
God promises a new relationship with us through the forgiveness of sins (by the blood of Jesus Christ.) In the world today it is so important for us to know that the promise of God is fulfilled, finished and final in the death burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the mitts of a dieing and hopeless world we have the truth. The truth of forgiveness, the truth of love and the truth of the blood shed on the cross for our sins. A promise fulfilled.
One of the deepest insights in the Old Testament is said to be these passages in Jeremiah. Because it is the only time that the promise of the new covenant is given to the people of God.
In the passages proceeding in chapter 31, Jeremiah is giving hope to Israel based on God’s loving faithfulness. Vs 15-22 He wants them to know that restoration of Israel is certain and it is through the eternal nature of God’s love. Israel will be sown with the new life of God to generate a new generation of people. But how will this change take place.
They were not able to live up to the old covenant. They couldn’t live up to the law of the old covenant.
I was watching the movie “In the Beginning” was on TV, the other night. They showed them saying we will do all those things that Moses had told them; they did a good job in showing the truth. In exodus 24:3 all the people answered with one voice “all the words which the Lord has spoken we will do”.
Because of the total depravity of man it was impossible for the nation of Israel to life up to the Old covenant. And because we are all sinner it is impossible for us to live up to the laws of God.
So lets see how this new relationship God has promised comes about.
First: God initiates a new covenant.
Look at verse one: God says I’m going to make a new covenant with all my people. The people will be united. The house of Israel and the house of Judah, who have been separated since after the death of Solomon, will be joined. But it’s not the people that took to the initiative to seek a new relationship with God. It was God who said, “ I will make a New Covenant”. The newness, that He wants to initiate, was not in contradiction to the old. One commentator says it this way:…the difference between the two consists merely in this: that the will of God as expressed in the law under the old covenant was presented externally to the people, while under the new covenant it is to become an internal principle of life. A factor of continuity must be recognized. God did not condemn the old He knew there had to have a new dimension to the relationship with people because of sin.
God initiates a new relationship with us because of our sin. He promises all the way back in Jeremiah that He wanted for us to know Him. He takes the initiative to reveal Himself to us. Do you know God today? Do you know who He is in your life?
In the book Experiencing God the authors Henry Blackaby and Claude King says, “God always takes the initiative. He does not wait to see what we want to do for Him. After He has taken the initiative to come to us, He does wait until we respond to Him by adjusting ourselves to Him and making ourselves available to Him.”
Second: God institutes a change
. The old covenant didn’t work. In the old covenant that was made with Moses, God gave the people laws to live by and if they obeyed the laws God blessed them. In Exodus 19:5 God says, “Now then if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the people, for all earth is mine.” We know that they didn’t keep their word. But as we all know there is no way they could do that. In the Old covenant their sins actually were not removed, but only passed over. The law continued to show the sinfulness of man. Man needed a change of covenant.
God institutes a change for you, if you are a Christian. If you are not He wants to institute a change in you. He is the one who drew you to Him. God promises a new relationship with Him through the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. He wants to institute a change in you. Has God instituted a change in your life? Is there one that He still needs to make?
When I first got saved I had so many questions. Of course I’m the type of guy who likes to know what I’m getting myself into. So I read and I studied and asked a lot of questions. It’s no surprise now but it was then how few people that I asked, really would answer me out of the bible. It’s more of an experience society. It’s what you experience. People do not want to study God’s word instead they want to experience Him. I fell into that mentality for a while but God kept instituting change in the way I believed because I kept reading His word. When I ended up at a Southern Baptist Church and read their statement of faith, I immediately said this is what I believe. God had been instituting change all along.
So in verse thirty-one we see God initiating a new relationship with us, in verse thirty-two we see God instituting change because the old life wasn’t working and now we see in verse thirty-three,
God instills his laws in our hearts.
One commentator says it this way:…the difference between the two consists merely in this: that the will of God as expressed in the law under the old covenant was presented externally to the people, while under the new covenant it is to become an internal principle of life. In other words for the law of God to be effective it has to be written in the heart. We do not take out our hearts and take a pen and write on them, so how?
Psalm 40:8 says, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy law is within my heart.” And in Romans 2:15 it says, “in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending.” Sounds like they are written from God, instilled on our hearts to delight in His ways and be overseen by our conscience. We just plain change the way we think to have the desire to love God’s ways. When that change is instilled in your life God will be your God and you will belong to Him.
II Corinthians 3:3 “being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” In this new covenant we know God not only by word but also through Jesus Christ. Is the understanding who God’s is, in your life? Are there things in your life that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of.
So we know that in the promise of the new relationship God initiates a new covenant, He
Institutes change from the old life and God instills His laws in our hearts so we love to walk in His ways. We look at the beginning of verse 34, we find,
God installs Jesus as our mediator. So that we will not have be taught to know God. Wow, I looked at that and thought what in the world does that mean, I do not teach anyone or no one teaches me. Well if you got an old brain like mine you may think that I need to be taught sometimes because I know that I surely have a lot to learn. So what is Jeremiah saying?
The new relationship with Him will be without a human mediator. The old law had the teachers and the high priest to teach and instruct the will of God to the people so they would know God. But this made a separation between God and man. The new covenant is one of oneness with God through Jesus Christ. II Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator also between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” Also in Hebrews 12:24 “And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better that the blood of Abel.” I was amazed at the amount of times Paul talked about a mediator in the Bible. Many times He talked about the oneness we have will God because of Jesus being the one and only mediator for us.
And through Jesus Christ all can know God for the least to the greatest. Galatians 3:26-28 for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Are you glad that Jesus was installed as your mediator?
For you and I there is no other way that we can come to know God except through His Son. We can get it from our parents, we can’t get it from our friends, can’t get it from the preacher. We can only truly know God through His son Jesus Christ.
I wonder way God just didn’t come out and say, hey I’m sending my son Jesus to die for you so you can know me, every one of you, least or greatest.
Well He really did in the next part of the sentence.”..For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. “
We saw that God initiated a new covenant, that God institutes change, that God instills His laws in our hearts, and that God installed Jesus as our mediator. And the most important thing of all I have said is that,
God illustrates it through forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. What an awesome thing to know! He not only forgives our sins but He forgets them.
A common tread throughout the entire Bible is the theme of man’s sinfulness and the need for forgiveness. That is the greatest need we have, to be forgiven.1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Praise God that that promise has been completed and we can live in it.
Dr Karl Menninger, the famed psychiatrist, once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day.
Ps 130:3-4 says, “If thou, Lord shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”
There is no greater illustration of God’s forgiveness for our sins than what He died on the cross for us. He died to forgive our sins. He completed the new covenant promised in Jeremiah. You are the recipient of that promise. Your sins are forgiven and forgotten. We can now have a new relationship with Him. You can tell others of the great gift that is given to you through the love of Jesus Christ.