“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
This is what the Lord says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the Lord Almighty is his name:
“Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
declares the Lord,
“will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.”
Jeremiah 31:31-33, 35-36
In times like these, we are forced to re-evaluate what is ‘certain.’ Things we have taken for granted have suddenly been called into question. Will there be food on the shelves when I go shopping? Will I have a job three months from now? I eat healthy and exercise…but can I be sure I won’t become sick? And if I do, will I receive the care I need? When will I see my family member or loved one again – the one I put off visiting in the busyness of life? Will the government, or my pastor for that matter, really be able to help me if things get tough? Questions without answers bring us to a crossroads where we either switch to self-preservation or survival mode, or we ask the scary question: After all, and no matter what, what is it in my life that I can depend upon beyond any circumstance? What in my life is secure…regardless of how my life may look at the other end of this trial?
Amidst the dark and difficult message Jeremiah delivers to the inhabitants of Jerusalem regarding their impending calamity and exile because of their sin, a bright streak of hope emerges. God commands His people to ‘Behold’ (Hinei – Look and See)! Something new will spring forth! Though she broke the covenant made at Sinai over and over again, and though her disease – her propensity to sin – was incurable (Jeremiah 30), God was making another way. The broken covenant could not be put back together. Israel’s wound was incurable, but God would heal her to the uttermost by doing a new thing. Making a new covenant. A better covenant…in the sense that while the requirements of the first were impossible to meet because of the incurable depravity of the human heart in its fallen condition, the new covenant would actually be written upon our minds and hearts. It would be a covenant not made by the blood of bulls and goats, but one made once and for all in the blood of the Passover Lamb, the Great High Priest, Yeshua the Messiah. And that new and better way would be open not only to Israel, but also to all who would receive it by faith. So, Israel’s hope and confidence was not in her own faithfulness, but in the faithfulness of God to keep His promises to His people and to make a way where there had been no way.
But how could Israel be sure God would preserve her as a nation? Disaster loomed on the horizon, the death of many was inevitable, and through Jeremiah they had come face-to-face with a deep, heartbreaking awareness of their own wicked ways. Could this new and living way that was to come really be certain? Could it be counted on? Could they proclaim it and share it with their neighbors? Can we also depend upon God’s promises when the systems and structures around us cease to be dependable? God’s declaration in Jeremiah 31:35-36 holds the answer: As surely as the coming of the dawn, and as surely as the moon and stars are in the sky at night, that’s how certain His commitment to preserve and sanctify His people is. No matter how dark the night, every dawn reminds us of His great faithfulness. And no matter how disastrous the day, every evening sky appears as a renewed promise that He will preserve those who call upon His name.
How can we be certain of God’s faithfulness in these difficult times? Simple! Because Israel still exists as a people today. The very existence of the Jewish people is a banner to the nations and a promise to all of us who call upon His name that He is the faithful promise keeper. How do we know that God remains enthroned in Heaven, good in the midst of hardship, and intimately committed to care for us and preserve us for eternity with Him? Because the sun rose this morning. How do we know He will keep the promises He has made to us though the world around us groans and shifts? Because the moon and the stars will come out tonight. During these difficult times, may we rejoice in the One who has drawn Israel and all of us near to Him through a new and living Way in Yeshua, and may each morning and each evening renew our HOPE that every promise He has made will come to pass.