2017-11-08 / Religion

The promise of a new covenant

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Jeremiah 31:27-34

A change of mind does not produce a change of heart. When we read of “heart” in scripture, this term does not always mean the physical organ. The word picture is that of the complete essence of the individual. King David often used this term in the Psalms. He wrote of “He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” Psalm 24:4a. In his psalm of confession of his great sin, he prayed, “create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:9.

The fact of the sin the human race is quite clear as one reads scripture. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed the divine command, sin, the sin nature, was passed to all of their offspring. See Genesis 3:1-6. This malady needed to be addressed. A simple sacrificial system was established, pointing these individuals to the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, that would “take away the sin of the world.” See John 1:29.

Through the offspring of the man, Abraham, this ultimate sacrifice would come. The elaborate system of worship that was designed for these special people, the nation of Israel, would show this coming one in his sacrificial, mediatorial, and intercessory work. The covenant that established this system was given to these people, as they camped at the base of Mount Sinai. Exodus 19ff. Even though these people had agreed to be obedient to the divine laws, they, rather quickly, broke the agreement that they had made.

Some of the priests and all of the prophets made many attempts to point the wayward nation back to the loving Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe. More often than not, these people rejected the many divine calls for repentance.

As time progressed, the divided nation was on the brink of total destruction. The man, Jeremiah, was one of the last prophets to be sent with a call, attempting to bring the wayward nation back to God, Jehovah. From the human perspective, the ministry of this faithful prophet would be seen as a failure. Few people gave heed to his words of warning, or his appeal for repentance. Their acceptance or rejection did not change the accuracy of the message, nor did the response change the coming judgment. In our day, the same condition exists.

Not many years before the complete fall of the Kingdom of Judah, God gave messages of promise to the wayward nation. The message contained the declaration of their coming captivity. Tucked within the message of destruction was the promise of their return. The 70 years of captivity was to be accepted by the captives, but God would not forget his own.

The prophet declared, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.” Jeremiah 31:27. Assurance was given, “And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:28.

The people of the land had developed a saying regarding the actions of parents being passed on to their children. This declaration did not come from divine inspiration, but from the heart of sinful mankind, “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity, every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” Jeremiah 31:29- 30. This error shows up in our day as the “generational curse” doctrine.

The promise declared by the faithful prophet has echoed down the corridors of time. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband, master, caretaker unto them, saith the Lord, But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Jeremiah 31:31- 33.

The first covenant was written in stone. See Exodus 31:18. Yes, this indicated the permanence of the divine declarations. Yet, these people were not faithful. The record was kept in the ark of the covenant, not to be seen by the people. The coming covenant would be within each heart!

Historically, the people were dependent upon teachers to make the plan of God known unto them. This coming covenant would not be received on a “secondhand basis.” “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:34.

For those who were listening to the message of Jeremiah, it might seem as if God had forgotten them. This situation did not exist. Through the prophet, God gave examples that showed them the constancy of the love of God for his own. Jeremiah 31:35-37.

In our world that appears to be “coming apart at the seams,” God has not forgotten his people. The eternal plan of salvation for the lost human race continues to be available to all who will accept it. The message has not changed, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, And shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. Please accept this provision, today. Fact can change the heart.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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