Celebrating A New Covenant
Celebrating a New Covenant
“Behold days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
The Old Covenant was broken. Not because the covenant was flawed, for the moral transformation demanded by the covenant was not faulty. The problem was the people. God had established the Mosaic covenant to form a relationship with the people of Israel. In the covenant, he had promised that he would be with the nation of Israel and care for them and bless them. All that God required of them was that they walk in obedience to him and obey the moral law that he had established. This law was given to be a way of life. It was designed to protect people from the ravenous effects of sin and the destruction it brings. However, the people continued to rebel instead of loving God and seeking God’s blessing. Even though sin always brings destruction, they continued to run hellbent into sin and reject God's loving call to return to him. While the law was good, the people's hearts were corrupt, so they broke the covenant.
The book of Jeremiah is filled with the pronouncement of judgment upon the nation of Judah for their sin. Yet, amid these judgments, there is a promise of hope, a promise that we are the beneficiaries today, and a promise that gives us hope even today as our world continues its moral descent. In Jeremiah 31, we discover one of the most significant promises in scripture. So marvelous is the promise and its scope that even today, on a regular basis, we celebrate this promise to be reminded of our hope in our salvation. The promise is that God will make a new covenant with the nation of Israel. But this covenant will be radically different from the old Mosaic covenant. While the moral law found in the Mosaic covenant is not changed, what is changed is the people's hearts. This covenant will do what the Mosaic covenant did not; it will transform the hearts of people so that they now will walk in obedience to God, unlike the Mosaic covenant, destined to fail because the people were not changed. The new covenant will result in the complete transformation of the people. The law will be written on their hearts, and their sin will be forgiven entirely. Furthermore, this new covenant will be eternal, one that will never be broken. The people will now have a transforming relationship with God, where he will be their God, and they shall be his people.
It is this covenant that Christ inaugurated with his death and resurrection. When Christ died on the cross, he paid the penalty for our sins and established the new covenant through his blood. No longer are we prohibited because of sin from entering into the presence of God. No longer must we go through a human priest to draw near to God. Now we can enter into the holy presence of God with boldness and freedom to find help in our time of need (see Hebrews 8-10 for an extended discussion on the implications of the new covenant). When we accept Christ, we become the beneficiaries of this covenant. We celebrate this covenant at church when we celebrate communion with the bread and wine. In this covenant, we discover our hope for, through Christ, we are changed. No longer are we dominated by our sinful nature and under the judgment of sin. Instead, we are created new, radically changed so that we now desire to walk in obedience to God. In this new covenant, we now become children of God and co-heirs of Christ. This is a hope that is worth celebrating.