“For the days are coming, when I will make a new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31)

Pastor Ino

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This is my 17th message on the book of Jeremiah. The previous message centered on Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you.” Jeremiah prophesied the birth of our Savior Jesus, born a descendant of King David. As promised, God raised new leaders, including those who led the people of Judah out of exile, to rebuild their nation with hope. They were exiles for 70 years but they returned to faith in God and eventually returned to Jerusalem.

God’s plans are great. Though the exiles of Judah lived where they had no temple, they were able to still hear God’s words, pray, and keep the Sabbath day. They could look to God and find him ↓Audio link to the sermon:(1st worship recording)
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again. God’s plan gave them hope and a future. Likewise, today, God knows each of our lives. He knows our past, present, and future. Let us live by His plans, which give us peace, hope, and a future if we trust in Him.

Today we enter chapter 30 and 31 of Jeremiah. We will focus on verses that talk about the shift from Old Testament to New Testament era. But first, we will learn about an expression that was used to talk about the end times.

For example, this expression is found in Jeremiah chapter 30 verse 3, which says, “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess’”.

The expression “the days are coming” refers, firstly, to the time when the people of Israel would be freed from Babylon. More broadly, it refers to events that are still in our future—events that will happen in the end times. Let’s see what events are included in God’s promise:

First, verse 3 says the people of Israel will be freed from captivity. Verses 8 and 9 says, “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” Here, the words “David their king” points forward to the Messiah. The people will be freed from captivity in order to serve a new king. This prophesies the reign of the Messiah, David’s descendant, whom we now know to be Jesus Christ. And now, we await his second coming and the time he will reign over all the earth. His reign, as verse 10 says, is part of God’s plan of salvation. Under his reign, there will be peace and security, and no fear among those under his rule. Christ’s salvation for us will be completed, and one of the results is that our hearts will finally be at peace.

The expression “the days are coming” refers, secondly, to a time when God’s judgment will come upon those who oppress God’s people.

When the people of Judah themselves sinned, they received God’s judgment. The second half of verse 11 mentions this: “I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.” This happened because, as verse 14 says, “your guilt is so great and your sins so many.” But God would not allow them to remain under Babylon’s rule forever. Babylon, too, was guilty of the sin of pride—maybe even more so than Judah. God’s coming judgment on Babylon was just as certain. As verse 16 confirms, the days are coming when God will judge those who oppress his people.

When the people of Judah were released from captivity, they would rebuild Jerusalem. Verse 18 prophesies, “the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place.” Verse 19 even says, “From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.” The days are coming when there will be restoration and joy.

Next, verse 21 says, “Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me—for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord.” This prophecy is about a new leader, a new ruler. A person who will be close to God. And who will give his life up because of that close relationship with God—just as Isaiah chapter 53 prophesies about the suffering servant. Jesus Christ, our Savior, tasted suffering and died on the cross to purchase forgiveness for the sins of humanity. We can read the words of Jeremiah through the lens of who Jesus is. Because he suffered and atoned for our sins, we can receive what is written in Jeremiah 30 verse 22: “‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”

Now let’s move on to chapter 31. This chapter is about the restoration of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

Because of his everlasting love, God would restore the northern of kingdom of Israel who was destroyed by Assyrian and taken into captivity. Chapter 31 verse 9 says, “They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.” God would forgive and restore not only southern Judah but also northern Israel. It is a wonderful promise. Verses 4 to 22 elaborate on this.

But let’s look at verse 11: “For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.” God will redeem and restore Jacob. Jacob is the name of patriarch of Israel. So God’s redemption would be for both the people of the north and the south. The Lord is a loving God. Ahead of time, he already makes plans to forgive and to restore.

Now, going down to verse 22, there is a mysterious saying: “How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The Lord will create a new thing on earth—the woman will return to the man.” The metaphor of a marriage here shows how his people will build a new relationship of trust with their creator God. God’s new people will worship none but him.

Moving on, verses 23 to 26 prophecy restoration for the southern kingdom of Judah. Because God will not abandon his people.

Verses 31 to 34 are about a new covenant that God promises to make with his people. The new covenant will bring a new era. God will raise up people who believe in the Savior he has chosen, Jesus. It is a great revelation that talks about the end of the Old Testament era and the beginning of the New Testament era. We believe that all of the Bible is the Word of God, but at the same time, the Old Testament itself prophesies a shift from Old to New Testament times. That’s important for us to know.

Let’s look more closely at these verses, 31 to 34. Verse 31 says that the new covenant is to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Looking at the spirit of the verse, it is about a covenant with God’s people. So applying it to ourselves, we can read verse 31 as a promise for the modern-day church as well, because we are part of God’s new people. God’s covenant is for us believers today as well. The new covenant is in contrast with the old covenant, which was given during Moses’ time. Moses wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets made of stone. However, those who believe in Jesus Christ will have God’s covenant written on their hearts, as verse 33 says. God will do that by giving the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit will guide Jesus’ followers. The Spirit guides us to live in God’s ways, to understand the Bible, to know God personally, and to enjoy a relationship with him (verse 34). This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, which is the birth of the Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, we live in New Testament times, a time when the Holy Spirit is at work among us. So with the help of the Holy Spirit, let us live our daily lives with God. The time of Moses’ covenant has ended. In this new era of grace, let us receive forgiveness through Christ and experience his love.

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