An exposition of Jeremiah 31:31-40. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered a Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, October 5, 2008
Confused by the events of recent days they sat around the table trying to make sense of it all. Their heads were spinning. Just when they thought they knew what was going on something happened that altered everything. They were thrilled and frightened. This could be the end of everything or it could be a glorious new beginning. They just weren’t sure what to make of it all when it happened. He took the cup and said, “This is the new covenant in my blood.” New covenant? It was a reference to a prophecy given 600 years before by the prophet Jeremiah to a group of exiles down in Babylon. It was a prophecy of a “new day.” A day that would change everything. Our text this evening is found in Jeremiah chapter 31.
Text: Jeremiah 31:31-40
Jeremiah was told, on the front end, that his would be a ministry of plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing. But there would be a time to build and to plant (1:10). For 40 years he plucked up, broke down, destroyed and overthrew at last he was getting a chance to build and plant. It was his unenviable task to preach God’s judgment during the final days of Judah before her fall to Babylon in 587 b.c. He spent 28 chapters laying out the case that they had violated the covenant. That God was holy and just in bringing judgment upon them. But in chapters 30-33 he brings them hope. He speaks words of grace, mercy and healing. And our text this evening is a marvelous promise of grace and glory. God’s grace is powerfully revealed in that…
Thesis: While Judah was staggering under the weight of divine judgment God promised to cure her backsliding and restore hope through a new covenant.
God has always dealt with man through a covenant. We are familiar with the language throughout Scripture. We know of the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and so forth. But what is a covenant? We often think of it in terms of a contract and while there is some truth in that analogy that does not quite cover it. Perhaps it is more like a treaty? Well, not really. O. Palmer Robertson describes a biblical covenant as, “a bond in blood sovereignly administered.” John Murray – “a sovereign administration of grace and promise.” I think those of both on the right track but they neglect the notion of a response of the part of those involved. I like Philip Ryken’s definition: A biblical covenant is a binding relationship of eternal consequence in which God promises to bless and his people promise to obey.
- Jeremiah promises a superior covenant. (31:31-34)
This covenant brings a great reconciliation – 31:31. It will be different that the covenant with Moses and Israel – 31:32-34.
- This new covenant will involve regeneration and the law written on the heart.
- It will reconcile men to God (I will be their God, they will be my people)
- It will bring forgiveness of sin.
Jonathan Edwards the great pastor/theologian of the 1st Great Awakening describe the difference in this way. The difference between the Old and New Covenants is that in the Old God promised to be their God upon condition of a hearty obedience. In the New God promises a hearty obedience.
- Jeremiah gives assurance that this is an everlasting covenant. (31:35-37)The God of creation is also the God of salvation. Therefore the new covenant is Christ is a reliable as the fixed laws of nature, if not more so. It is irrevocable. The likelihood of this new covenant failing is as likely as the universe grinding to a halt. How is it this is an eternal covenant? Because it is secure in Christ – he keeps the terms of the covenant perfectly. We are included because we are in Christ.
- This new covenant guarantees a future glory. (31:38-40)The restoration of the city of course is partially fulfilled in Nehemiah but ultimately it awaits the coming of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband. This is glorious good news for all those who struggle under the weight of divine judgment whether that be the temporal judgment experienced down in Babylon or the judgment of sin. Our hope is in the God of the new covenant who desires us to enter into life abundant with him.