The Hope to Come
“Behold, the 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 that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares 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. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord spoke hope into the nation of Israel. During Jeremiah’s ministry, the nation of Israel was in exile – exile physically and spiritually. They had been defeated and driven from the promised land. Their defeat was the direct result of their unfaithfulness to the covenant with the Lord. Though the Lord was continually faithful to the nation of Israel, they repeatedly sinned against God; they worshipped idols, made alliances with the other nations, and did not honor or worship the Lord. Over and over again, the Lord warned his people of upcoming judgment for their hard-heartedness and ongoing sin. Instead of repenting and returning to the Lord, Israel seemed intent upon its evil ways.
Sin had defeated God’s people. They were in bondage to their wicked ways and rebellion against God. This defeat led to another defeat – a physical defeat. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked and decimated the city of Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and took many captives. The nation of Israel quickly found themselves to be people in exile.
Where was their God? The God of the Hebrews was in the place he had always been – sitting on the throne in his everlasting kingdom. He had not forgotten his people but had handed them over to the consequences of their sin and rebellion. In his mercy and steadfast love, God then spoke through Jeremiah of a new hope for his people. It was the hope of restoration and new relationship to himself.
Once again, there was hope for God’s people. Unlike the nation of Israel, God was faithful to his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had not forgotten, nor had he turned away. Instead, God spoke of a new covenant, a covenant of grace and inward knowing of the Lord. They were to look beyond their exile to God’s future promise. In that promise, they could find hope and strength for the day.
As we enter the fifth week of Lent, the Lord invites us to look beyond today and to look forward to the celebration of Easter. On that day, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and his defeat of sin, death, and Satan. All the temptations we endure, all the setbacks we face, and all the conviction of sin will also come to an end. Like Jesus, we too, have overcome sin, death, and Satan. For now, we are like the exiles in Babylon as we live in the now but not yet. The promises of the Lord are true and trustworthy. We can live in them today, but the full fulfillment will come with Jesus’ return. Reflection:
Are you living with this Easter hope? How would the Lord like to remind you of your triumph over sin, death, and Satan today?