The Power to Obey
“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 31:33-34
When the Lord led his people out of the land of Egypt, he then established the Mosaic covenant with them. They were given the Ten Commandments on a tablet of stone. Adherence and obedience to this law would set the nation of Israel apart from every other nation in the world. They would be recognized as God’s chosen people, his firstborn son.
Sadly, adherence to this law proved to be quite challenging for the nation of Israel. As Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law, the Israelites were forming and then worshipping the golden calf. They were instructed to worship the Lord God alone and to make no idols for themselves. The first two commandments were broken before they even saw the tablet. Even within the promised land, God’s people were constantly falling away from covenantal faithfulness and true worship of the Lord.
In his mercy and steadfast love, the Lord spoke to the exiled nation of Israel of a new covenant. Where the Mosaic covenant was purely external, this new covenant would move from the external to the internal. God would write his law on their hearts. What a powerful image! The Israelites would move from just knowing God and his law in their heads to knowing God in their hearts. Head knowledge is a good and useful thing; however, it is often when head knowledge also becomes heart knowledge that true transformation occurs.
God longed to transform his people. He longed for them to know him with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In knowing their frailty, the Lord knew that an inward experience of his love, power, and presence would be necessary to lead his people into that intimate relationship with him. Where the people had long been dependent upon the priests and the prophets to teach them the ways of God, they would now be taught by God himself. They would have access to his word, truth, and presence in a new and tangible way.
It is hard to fathom how the Israelites would receive this prophetic word from Jeremiah. Surely, many of them wanted to love and obey the Lord. They would likely have desired to understand his ways so they could better trust him. Sin hardens God’s people making it difficult to whole-heartedly live for the Lord. As we read yesterday, sin is a spiritual bondage that prevents people from seeing God, hearing God, and obeying God.
The Lord knew and understood that bondage to sin and all the consequences of that bondage. That is why he sent his Son into the world. With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the bondage to sin is broken. When one looks to Jesus and his work on the cross, he or she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit is the very one that sets the prisoner free, that opens ears and eyes, and that leads a person into God’s perfect will.
We are the full recipients of this prophetic word from Jeremiah. God has written his word on our hearts; God has made us his children; God has given us understanding of himself, his truth, and his ways; God has forgiven us of our sins. Are we choosing to receive all that he gives and to allow the Holy Spirit full access to our lives? Are we choosing God’s ways and turning from the sinful patterns that once held us?
The Holy Spirit would lead us into truth, life, and healing. May we surrender to his power today! Reflection:
Do you recognize God’s presence and power that dwells within you? How could you surrender more to the Holy Spirit today?
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