Today's Lectionary Text
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will plant seeds in Israel and Judah, and both people and animals will spring up. Just as I watched over them to dig up and pull down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and plant, declares the Lord. In those days, people will no longer say: “Sour grapes eaten by parents leave a bitter taste in the mouths of their children. Because everyone will die for their own sins: Whoever eats sour grapes will have a bitter taste in their own mouths.”
This passage provides a glimmer of hope for a besieged people.
The southern kingdom of Judah is under siege. The Babylonians have already conquered much of the country, and Jerusalem is about to fall. The warning shared by the prophet Jeremiah are coming to fruition. The fate of the northern kingdom now has moved south. Hope appears to be lost.
Then, the tone of a thoroughly depressing book shifts dramatically. New seeds — new life — will be planted. One generation’s deeds and the consequences will no longer weigh down the children and their children’s children. Something new is about to take place.
It’s a new covenant, necessary not because of anything God did, but because of what humankind failed to do: live up to the Law. As a result, the people broke their covenant with God. This new covenant will be different from the first — not merely a replacement but instead an improvement.
It won’t be written on parchment, as a scroll, that can fade. It won’t be carved in stone, as the 10 Commandments, that can weather. No, this covenant will be engraved on the hearts of men and women. Instead of merely knowing about God by knowing what they should or should not do, people will actually know God intimately because God will be in their hearts.
The people of that time may have heard some hope amid these words, even as their homeland was being overtaken by the Babylonians. As 21st century Christians, we recognize that Jeremiah is talking about the Messiah that will be born hundreds of years later. Two thousand years after the birth of Christ, we have the opportunity to better understand the dynamics of Jesus being in our hearts, engraved if you will, into our very souls.
Indeed, we can know God. And by accepting that gift of Jesus Christ engraved on our hearts, we can be freed from the sin that constantly has us under siege today.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, help us to find the hope in Your words via the prophet Jeremiah. Help us to recognize the gift available to us by allowing you to engrave Your very presence into our hearts. Thank you for blessing us with a new covenant. Amen.
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