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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 31:31–34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (NRSV)

This memorable passage from the book written by the prophet Jeremiah is regarded by some biblical scholars as the high point of Old Testament scriptures. In addition, at least ten New Testament passages either quote it directly or allude to it, and the verses appear in seven paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s also a controversial passage, but let’s not dwell on that.

For me, what’s especially important is that the Lord promises to replace the covenant delivered by Moses in the Ten Commandments with a new prophecy. And through our knowledge of Easter, it seems clear this promised pledge is that delivered by Christ the Messiah through his death and resurrection and conveyed at the Last Supper when he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”

Yet what stirs me the most is that the new covenant applies to all people, “from the least of them to the greatest”; that with it the Lord forgives our “wickedness” and no longer evokes our sins; and, especially, that the Lord indelibly puts a “law” in our minds and writes it in our hearts. How exhilarating!

Almighty God, thank you for delivering to us this bond with you that conveys genuine spirituality and the absolute forgiveness of our sins. It truly encourages us to know you, O Lord, and embrace your promise of salvation. Amen.

Written by Tim Schellhardt, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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