International Sunday School Lesson for November 12, 2017
To thrive in the confidence that God can forgive our sins and transform our hearts with a new covenant
Background: Jeremiah 31
Jeremiah 31:27-34 (CEB)
27 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will plant seeds in Israel and Judah, and both people and animals will spring up. 28 Just as I watched over them to dig up and pull down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days, people will no longer say: Sour grapes eaten by parents leave a bitter taste in the mouths of their children.
30 Because everyone will die for their own sins: whoever eats sour grapes will have a bitter taste in their own mouths.
31The 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.
I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
This week we continue our study of covenants. In this week’s lesson we have the actual words “ I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.” Some covenants are implied, but this is called a “New Covenant.”
Those words are are restated several times in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 11:25; “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.likewise, Luke 22:20).“This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you. The passage in 2 Corinthians 3:1-14 , Hebrews 8:8 Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a covenant with the house of Israel, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah.
This new covenant is probably best explained by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 9: 18 So not even the first covenant was put into effect without blood. 19 Moses took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Law scroll itself and all the people after he had proclaimed every command of the Law to all the people. 20 While he did it, he said, This is the blood of the covenant that God established for you.[b] 21 And in the same way he sprinkled the meeting tent and also all the equipment that would be used in the priests’ service with blood.22 Almost everything is cleansed by blood, according to the Law’s regulations, and there is no forgiveness without blood being shed.
23 So it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be cleansed with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things had to be cleansed with better sacrifices than these. 24 Christ didn’t enter the holy place (which is a copy of the true holy place) made by human hands, but into heaven itself, so that he now appears in God’s presence for us. 25 He didn’t enter to offer himself over and over again, like the high priest enters the earthly holy place every year with blood that isn’t his. 26 If that were so, then Jesus would have to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. Instead, he has now appeared once at the end of the ages to get rid of sin by sacrificing himself. 27 People are destined to die once and then face judgment. 28 In the same way, Christ was also offered once to take on himself the sins of many people. He will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Jeremiah tells us more about himself than any other prophet. And in his writings we also get a picture of a man that had confidence in God, most of the time, but he did have moments of doubt.
He was called to be a prophet in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah in Judah (around 627 b.c.) Jeremiah witnessed the rise of Babylon. His ministry lasted over 40 years, through the regimes of Judah’s last five kings and the sieges, captures, and destructions of the city and Temple by the Babylonians in 598–597 b.c. and 587 b.c. He saw the Temple looted, the king and many of the politically and socially important figures of Jerusalem exiled after the first siege. He remained in the city only to suffer its catastrophic destruction ten years later—a horror he had predicted (and was imprisoned for, Jeremiah 34:1-7; 37–38).
He was torn by his prophetic calling. He could despise his enemies, but his real struggle often seemed to be within himself. He felt like “a young lamb led to the slaughter” (11:19), and he questioned God’s judgment. He wished he had never been born, his ministry just a “source of conflict and dissension” (15:10) in his own country. The prophet agonizingly, wondered “Why am I always in pain? Why is my wound incurable, so far beyond healing?” and he doubted if God was dependable: “You have become for me as reliable as a spring gone dry” (verse 18).
Maybe it is because most of us can relate to Jeremiah, that he is so well respected as a true prophet. He was not the most popular, but his message proved over time to be correct.
The “New Covenant” becomes the “New Testament” and we we add the third part of the Trinity the “Holy Spirit” to the new covenant, God deals with each of us with no carry over of our forefathers sins. With God ruling though our hearts and minds are we without excuse. James puts it this way in 4:17 “It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it.”
My Hymn for this week is an old one “Jesus Paid It All.” and that is the New Covenant.