International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 14, 2014
Purpose: To impact an understanding of “new covenant” and how it engenders reconciliation with God and one another
Bible Lesson: Background: Jeremiah 31
Jeremiah 31:31-37 (CEB)
(31) The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. (32) It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord.(33) No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (34) They will no longer need to teach each other to say, "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 wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.
(35) The Lord proclaims: The one who established the sun to light up the day and ordered the moon and stars to light up the night, who stirs up the sea into crashing waves, whose name is the Lord of heavenly forces: 36 If the created order should vanish from my sight, declares the Lord, only then would Israel’s descendants ever stop being a nation before me.
(37) The Lord proclaims: If the heavens above could be measured and the foundation of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject Israel’s descendants for what they have done, declares the Lord.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Have you ever wondered why God uses the word “covenant” and not contract? There is a difference. While a contract consist of a sworn legal agreement between different parties and is usually recorded with a governing body, a covenant is an agreement based solely on heartfelt intentions to love, honor and be faithful to each other.
While marriages today are both a contract and a covenant, the contract can only be broken by another contract, the covenant part is sometimes harder to break. Of course in some cases the covenant part is broken first, requiring a legal contract of divorce.
Another covenant is formed when we become parents, we make a commitment to protect, love, and nurture our children. I have a friend that uses a fishing metaphor. “Being a parent is not catch and release.”
God’s covenant is similar to the parental covenant. The original covenant between God and those He brought out of Egypt, was based on Him providing and them obeying. We all know how that went. Those God brought out became disobedient children and rejected the God that had redeemed them from slavery. Often we as parents face a similar problem, we try and do everything right, but that does not guarantee our love will be returned.
God offers hope for a new start, through Jeremiah’s words. This time I will write my words in your heart, you will show your love for me through the way you treat others. From the smallest and poorest to the rich and famous, everyone will be aware of me.
Jeremiah assures those that have been carried off into captivity, will be forgiven, and can start over. God’s word of forgiveness is as certain at the sun rising every morning and the stars coming out every night. God’s covenant is guaranteed by his creation.
Our part of that covenant is kept by our belief that Jesus, God’s Son, is the fulfillment of God’s promise to forgive and redeem those that carry God’s word in their heart, and lives that reflect our trust in God’s word and in His Son’s sacrifice as a way of redeeming all of humankind. We must love as God loves, and forgive as God forgives. We carry that with us in our hearts. That is a binding covenant on our part and guarantees God’s promise to us.
Our lesson is about restoration and forgiveness, and that means relationships. Not just God’s relationship to man, but also our relationships to our fellowman to our families.