The past few weeks of the lectionary has brought us a steady admonition of passing on to future generations the necessity of covenant, faith, and law. Obedience is the key to it all. But the problem entered that Israel was not faithful to God’s commands; they kept disobeying and following other gods. God always had a faithful remnant of people devoted to him, but the nation as a whole simply did not follow through with the teaching given to them.
But where Israel failed in obeying the covenant stipulations and passing them on to their progeny, God forgives. God’s answer to repeated human failings was not just to pronounce a judgment, but to rectify the problem altogether through the establishment of a new covenant. God will put his law in their hearts, and they will know him in a direct and immediate kind of way. “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.”
From a New Testament (that is, New Covenant) perspective, Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s good covenant promises to his people. And God’s Holy Spirit serves as the continuing presence of Jesus within us, teaching us and guiding us in the ways of God. Our only task, then, is to live into those promises – to know them, claim them, and bank on them. We are most obedient when we believe the promises of God and place all our hope in them.
Lord God, thank you for your promise of a new covenant. Thank you for Jesus. Establish his presence so firmly in my heart by means of your Spirit that obedience is always my default mode of living. Amen.