7 Everlasting Covenant (2)

Greg Sherman was all set to go. He was pretty excited about tonight’s game, not just because he was playing the defense of the Champion’s Cup, or because he was the ‘star’ of ‘The Toronto Rock’, but he was also proud of being the top student taking Kinesiology at McMaster University. He was playing for his school. I need to win the Cup tonight, Greg thought! He was determined to have a good one.

It was packed at the Air Canada Centre. Greg could still see his parents and his little brother Edward waving at him with the big red flag. He was playing ‘Forward’ and was very into it. Suddenly someone from his back pushed him onto the wall, knocked off his helmet and whacked him in his head with the lacrosse stick. I would be fine, Greg thought. I had four concussions in the past; I knew I would also make it this time. He was trying to turn around while experiencing another hard blow, then another……he could feel blood dripping down his forehead; before he actually fell on the ground, the last words he heard were, ‘Go, Greg, Go!’

“Mr and Mrs Sherman, we have already tried our best, but I am afraid that Greg might lose his memory forever.” The chief neurologist was explaining the whole scenario to Greg’s parents. Mr and Mrs Sherman tried out everything they could to bring back Greg’s memory. They talked to Greg all the time, showed him all the pictures and videos since he was a baby, invited his close friends to come and stay with him, even brought him back to almost all the places that he loved to go, including McMaster campus. Greg still stared at them with a blank face. He did not even know who he was.

“What else could we do? Lord, please help us! Please save our son!” Mr and Mrs Sherman uttered their desperate cry to God.

As usual, the Sherman family attended Sunday Service. It was the Easter Sunday and Pastor Ronald was preaching about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Greg listened with all ears. “…..I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see….” Greg started to blink his eyes and this feeling of nostalgia overwhelmed him while the worship leader was singing “Amazing Grace”. The music kept going, “….How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed.” Tears started to roll down Greg’s face and he could not control himself anymore. He held on to his parents and cried like a baby. Somehow, at the very back of his mind, something was touching his inside, his very self and he was retrieving this feeling and memory. Greg remembered the promise of the amazing grace, the promise of Jesus’ salvation, even though he could not remember anything else…..

Your Initial Response

Have you ever been touched by God’s grace? When was the last time that you were moved by God’s amazing grace?

Jeremiah 31:31–37

31“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 

32It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 

33“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 

34No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 

35This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name: 

36“Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” 

37This is what the Lord says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31–37 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Who are the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31)?

3 When will God make a new covenant with the Israelites (Jeremiah 31:32)?

4 What is a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31)?

5 Why did God call Himself the husband of Israel (Jeremiah 31:32)?

6 Why did the Israelites violate the covenant that they made with God (Jeremiah 31:32)?

7 Did God abandon the Israelites in the end (Jeremiah 31:37)?

8 Underline the phrases “declares the Lord” and “this is what the Lord says” in this passage.’

9 Underline the terms that link with human relations, such as “their forefathers.”

10 Put a circle next to the newly found insight.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

God did not only make the New Covenant with the Israelites, but also with all humankind (Luke 22:20). By the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross, God used the precious blood of His Son as the foundation of the New Testament, so that all those who receive Christ as their personal Saviour, can be saved by grace.

1 What is the difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31)?

2 How did God put His law in their minds and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33)?

3 Why people could know the true God even the Israelites did not preach the truth of the Lord (Jeremiah 31:34)?

4 What are the occurrences of “declares the Lord” and “this is what the Lord says” in this passage? What is the relationship between God’s word and the New Covenant?

5 ‘This is what the Lord says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done.”’ (Jeremiah 31:37) Modern humans have possessed the advanced technology of measuring the space and the earth, so isn’t it a way to say that God has abandoned Israel?

God made numerous covenants or agreements with humans in the Old and New Testament. Some of them were conditional covenants, and some were unconditional. There are eight covenants that we must pay attention to: 

1 The Covenant with Adam (Gen. 1:28; 2:15–17). God asked Adam to obey His words in the Garden of Eden (conditional); but God unconditionally promised him salvation after the Fall.

2 The Covenant with Noah (Gen. 8:21–22). God unconditionally promised Noah that He wouldn’t destroy the earth by water again.

3 The Covenant with Abraham. This is an unconditional covenant. God promised He would make Abraham the founder of a great nation (Gen. 12:2–3, 7; 13:16; 15:5) and give the Promised Land to Abraham’s seed forever (Gen. 13:14–15, 17; 15:18; 17:8).

4 The Covenant with Moses and Israel. This is a conditional agreement. If God’s people obeyed, they could have the Promised Land (Ex. 19:3–8; Lev. 26:1–13; Deut. 28:1–14). If they disobeyed, Israel would forfeit all God’s blessings (Lev. 26:14–46; Deut. 28:15–68).

5 The Covenant with David. God granted an everlasting kingdom to David (2 Sam. 7:12–16; 23:5; 2 Chron. 13:5) and promised an everlasting king would come from David (2 Sam. 7:12–16; Ps. 45:6–7; Isa. 9:6–7; Heb. 1:5, 8–9).

6 The Covenant with all repenting sinners. God unconditionally grants the salvation of Jesus Christ to all humans who believe Him as Saviour (Matthew 26:28; Titus 1:1–2; Heb. 13:20–21).

7 The Covenant with the Church. God unconditionally builds and protects His Church (Matthew 16:18), and He will perfect all the members of His Church (Phil. 1:6; Heb. 13:20–21).

8 The New Covenant with Israel (Jer. 31:31–40; Rom. 11:26–27). This is an unconditional covenant. God will not only bring Israel back to Himself, He will forgive and forget their sin. Not only will the Israelites bless the Gentiles, they will also enjoy the Promised Land forever.

Jer. 31:31 “The time is coming”

God promised the Israelites that He would make the New Covenant with them, and this was the same covenant that He made with the repenting sinners (Heb. 26:28; Titus 1:1-2; Heb. 13:20-21). In the end times, the Israelites will come to realise the truth of Jesus Christ as Messiah and all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:25-27). God unconditionally grants salvation to all those who believe Jesus Christ as their own Saviour.

Jer. 31:31 “the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”

Israel was sadly broken up as a nation in her history; the Northern Kingdom was Israel and the Southern Kingdom was Judah. Not only that, these two kingdoms perished as a nation successively, and their people were humiliated as a result.

Jer. 31:31 “new covenant”

God delivered the Israelites and led them out of Egypt, the land of enslavement. God chose Moses as the representative of the Israelites, and made a covenant with His Chosen People in Mount Sinai soon afterwards. The covenant that God made with Moses, commonly known as the Mosaic Covenant. It was a conditional covenant; God required His people to respond with rightful conduct and they must faithfully obey the details of the agreement. God made a new covenant with the Israelites and its essence was new, for it was unconditional and it was different from the previous covenant. “I will” occurred five time in the New American Standard Bible (Jer. 31;31-34), and all of them are related to the future promises, implying the essence of the New Covenant is different to the Old Covenant (Jer. 31:31). Not only did God take the initiative in the covenant-making (Jer. 31:31), He would be the Lord of His people as well (Jer. 31:31). The most important thing is that, God will not remember the past wrongdoings of the Israelites and has promised to forgive all of their sins (Jer. 31:34).

Jer. 31:32 “although I was a husband to them” (NASB)

God saved Israel as a nation and regarded Himself as her husband; however, the Israelites were unfaithful to Him many times by violating God’s Law (Jer. 9:13) and worshipping false gods (Jer. 7:9). The Israelites abandoned the God who saved their ancestors; they carelessly and wrongfully worshipped and served false gods. To the one and only true God, this is regarded as spiritual adultery (1:16; 2:5, 8–12; 10:3–5, 8–9, 14–15; 16:18–20).

Jer. 31:32

God made the Old Covenant with His people; it was inscribed on stone tablets (Ex. 31:18). God promised to make a new covenant with the Israelites, writing His law (standard and principle) upon their hearts (2 Cor. 3:3). This is the works of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32), so that God’s people might understand God’s standard and obey His teachings.

Jer. 31:34

God had His own expectation of His people; He revealed His intention by making a covenant with His people after the deliverance of His people (Ex. 19:3-6). God wanted the Israelites to become His people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These three identities revealed the three innermost intentions of God: first of all, God wanted the Israelites to only consider Him as Lord. Secondly, He expected His people to lead a holy life. Thirdly, God expected His people to act as the mediator between Him and humankind, so that the gentiles might come to know Yahweh as Lord (cf. Isaiah 43). In simple terms, one of God’s intentions of choosing the Israelites was to ordain them as witnesses of the Lord (Isaiah 43:12). Strangely, the Israelites didn’t have to preach and witness for Yahweh, and people including the gentiles could come to know and accept Yahweh as their God. Moreover, God would abrogate all hideous sins of humankind and this was identical to the New Testament’s teaching. The New Testament not only emphasises the forgiveness of sins, and it highly regards the truth of experiencing forgiveness as well. This was the focus here.

Jer. 31:35-37

The sun shines by day, the moon and stars shine by night, the seas roar with waves, are God’s established principles in the nature, and for sure He would not discard them. God spoke with an irony here. Unless He abandon all of these principles, or else Israel would for sure reestablish their own nation. By employing another analogy of emphasizing the genuineness of His promise, He proclaimed His promise to the Israelites must come to pass. Ancient people did not have the technology of measuring the heavens and the foundations of the earth, that is to say, God would not exterminate the Israelites for He would not abolish His own promise.

Conclusion

God unconditionally made the New Covenant with the Israelites, and indeed promised to forgive and accept them as His own people. According to the enlightenment of the New Testament, we are saved by grace through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 If we were born into a Christian family, we have to ask ourselves a question; “Do I know Lord Jesus personally?” (Jer. 31:32)

2 We must faithfully follow the Lord and avoid committing “spiritual adultery”.

3 Memorise Jeremiah 31:31.

4 If you had not received the Lord as Saviour, receive the invitation of accepting God’s unconditional salvation and be a pledging member of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31).

5 God is faithful and trustworthy to humankind; let’s determine to experience Him more (Jer. 31:35-37).

6 Claim God’s gracious salvation in faith (Jer. 31:34).

7 Based on the prophecy that the Jews will return to the Lord in the end times, let’s learn that 8 God’s timing is different to ours (Jer. 31:34).

9 True believers have God’s law (truth) inscribed on their hearts; this is a principle that we can employ in evangelism and in nurturing new believers (Jer. 31:33).

10 God will not take any action against His people’s sins; we must have this attitude in mind–try not to take any action against others’ wrongdoings (Jer. 31:34).

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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