29 In those days they shall no longer say: “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” 30 But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. 31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. -NRSV
Last week I got in trouble with snakes, this week I’m dancing with politics. Before you run to assume anything, I hope that I have your attention: But it is interesting to look back at the history, politics, and faith of God’s people way back then and hear God speaking in our history, politics and faith right now.
The prophet Jeremiah was a truth-sayer. No I didn’t say soothsayer. No he was not a smooth speaker, but he was an eternally hopeful messenger of God’s unfolding works and words. While it seems rare to think of a truth telling, straight-forward political figure, Jeremiah had the ear of the people and ear of the leaders. His words of hope and promise continue to ring true. Oh, that sounds dangerously close to our political jargon.
What the prophet says, both to our ears and theirs then, is: God is making a new covenant. Previous covenants had been made with people on behalf of all the people of God. Adam and Eve for their offspring. Noah and Mrs. Noah had the rainbow promise; Abraham and Sarah for their kin counted the stars with their great-great grand’s. Moses, Aarron and the rowdy folks out of Egyptian bondage had the wilderness survival and Promised Land and tablet prescriptions.
Covenants have always been a contract of grace between God and people. God promises to keep the deal even if we break it. Where does that always end up? Broken Promises. Lost Hope. And Empty words: Basically, out of relationship on all accounts.
So the prophet Jeremiah tells about God striking a new deal. One where the contract is still made in grace but it will be made with God and God’s son and the benefits will affect our hearts and relationships. And It will no longer be what we know or say. It will not be what we wear or what language we speak. It will be a matter of God’s heart and each of our hearts.
The passage begins with Jerry talking about sour grapes. Have you ever tried to win the BLAME GAME? It is easy to find players, you can blame anyone for anything and try to feel justified and correct by not being the one holding the red-hot potato at the end of the dance. Trouble is, even if you find someone who seems to have a potato that fits perfectly in their hands, you don’t actually find justice simply by assigning blame. That didn’t stop people form playing then or now.
But here some of the most grace-filled words of the Old Testament. “God is about to write the answers on our hearts and the new city and temple that God will build can never be destroyed.. All we have to do is accept that we are beneficiaries. (Leave the church in your estate plans… its just a good way to continue to do good for God.)
SO WHAT? This new deal for the world is revealed, at the right time, in Jesus Christ. Jesus keeps our end of the new deal and covenant. We are justified not by blame, rather by God’s faithfulness on our behalf. Our heart is in God’s hands…
..Unless we trust our hearts else where. As we move closer toward Easter Sunday, we are reminded that our individual faith journey is moving into this relationship of grace through Christ, or we are not.
So don’t be trusting your heart to things the fail, ideas that conflict, promises broken, markers that measure the world, When God already gives us God’s heart to guide our own…
Repent, Run and Renew yourself in Christ.
This is how we claim and reclaim God’s new covenant.. do it.