Seminarian Mark Ehrlichmann
August 6, 2006
31 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a
covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 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.
33 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.
34 No longer shall they teach one
another, or say to each other, "Know
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." (NIrV)
God speaks to His people about His New
Promise. A personal promise of a heart-to-heart
relationship. He begins by saying:
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
Let me give you a story: A Dude Ranch where people come from all over
to relax and play. They stay in a dormitory like place, where
everyone has their own room but share everything else, kitchen,
bathroom, shower, television, computer, exercise room, etc. And
there are rules, that were posted on a sign, for everyone to know what
is allowed and not allowed, how people should respect each other and
help each other, and how through being respectful of each other and
helping each other they will grow into an understanding of a dependence
on everyone doing their part and being responsible for themselves and
accountable to others. This was a covenant that the owners had
given to the people so that they could enjoy their experience on the
It happens that over time the people in the dormitory began to grow
frustrated with the rules because they felt the rules were limiting
their pleasure. Everyone began to think more of themselves
instead of others. They began to feel the rules did not apply to
them anymore because they did not feel the benefits of the rules
anymore. They became more and more rude and self centered.
They felt the problems were not their fault and that there was nothing
wrong with their behavior. They began to think that the people
who established the rules -- the owners of the Dude Ranch -- did not
know what they were doing or would not enforce the rules because
nothing was done to enforce them.
They started laughing at the rules and went about doing what they felt
was best. Things soon became unorganized, chaos and all kinds of evil
things happened. There was no order. The ranch began to
lose money. People who planned to come soon cancelled their
plans. The people broke the covenant. The people failed to follow
What do you think will happen? Think about what should
happen. I think it would be safe to assume that the owners would
kick everyone out and begin all over again. The owners decided to
make the rules a personal contract that people must sign before they
begin their vacation.
Jeremiah is telling us that the Israelites were like the people on the
dude ranch. That they totally broke the covenant; that they
failed to follow God’s ways for generations. They even refused to
listen to Jeremiah’s appeals, they have refused to return to his ways.
God has sent the Babylonians to punish them for these sins by deporting
many and destroying Jerusalem (including the Temple). Now,
through Jeremiah, God tells the people that he will make new again both
Israel and Judah, and that time will come soon. Jeremiah now
proclaims the Lord’s plans for the building and the planting for making the people new again.
In early Israelite history, sin was
largely collective meaning if a person sinned, it affected the
whole nation. Reminds me of the Jews stating just before Christ
was crucified, "Let his blood be on us and on our children." (Matt.
27.25) Jeremiah explains that from now on "all shall die for
their own sins" (v. 30). The sin of one generation will no longer be
inflicted on the next. Responsibility will be personal.
God has decided to make it personal to the people of Israel and Judah
and us. As we hear the Lord say through Jeremiah:
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;
God’s "new covenant," like the old covenant, shows that:
Unlike the old covenant,
- God will initiate it;
- it will be God-centered;
- it will be with the same people; and
- the people’s response will be shown in obeying
the same Law.
But how does God make us aware of this new covenant you
- it will be written
on their hearts (in new: personal; in the old testament: in
their consciences, not personal), thus keeping it will be up to the
will of each person; each person is
responsible for self.
- a person’s lifestyle will reflect seeing God in every action
and situation, for “they shall all know me,” in their surroundings and
their image. In who you are!
- God will forgive, he will "remember their sin no
more": everyone will always be faithful; and
- the covenant will last forever.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that God gives
us in His Word, in our “hearing,” in our Baptism. The Holy
Spirit makes faith alive in us so that we can have Belief! So
that we can Be Life! So that we can grow as His Children in the
Light of the New Covenant and Mature into the Living Branches that grow
fruits of the Spirit in spreading His Word.
So that we will have a tool for dealing with everyday life. A
tool to help us with how we learn about God and Jesus. A tool
that helps us to understand that God wants us, us, to KNOW Him.
To have a relationship with Him. Not to know about Him.
That is easy to do. We can learn about anything.
We can and want to learn about how to use a computer, how to drive a
car, how to cook our favorite foods. We want to know about our
favorite sports teams and players, about movie stars and their
lives. We learn about and gossip about other people, but don’t
really get to know them. But through our learning about these
things, do we gain any peace and comfort that helps us to relax and not
worry so much? We hear about people becoming addicted to drugs
and smoking. That is not learning about drugs and cigarettes,
that is KNOWING drugs and cigarettes. Think about that.
Anyone with an addiction will tell you that. That Knowing drugs
and cigarettes can lead you towards a life of destruction.
God wants you to KNOW HIM and wants to lead you to a life of
glory. He does not want you to only know about HIM.
KNOWING means having a relationship with HIM. Letting Him fill
you with HIS life-giving streams of water, His life-giving Bread.
That is why He says that He will write His law on our hearts so that we
WILL Know Him. Know His Love for us and His command for us to
Love one another. Another way He comes to us is through the
Lord’s Supper. He reveals His Promise of Love through the Bread
and Wine. The promise of Forgiveness. I have a poster of
the Lord’s Supper. It is a picture of the Lord’s Table with many
different people and cultures of the world sitting with Jesus.
The caption above says: "What language would He use to speak to each of
these?" The caption below says: "Their own!" God gets
personal with us now through Jesus Christ.
God will remain the same; the change will be in us. He now gives
us the gift to live in His Way. A gift because it is His to give
and He gives to us freely because He created and loves us so much and
wants a relationship with us.
The old covenant had the doctrine of retribution (punishment) built
in. Guilt was necessarily followed by punishment. How then
can God make a new covenant if the old covenant should bring a
I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more."
In other words, our only hope lies in God's forgetfulness. We now
have a personal relationship with Jesus. God made the
relationship between Himself and us a personal one. That is what
he means when He says “I will put my law within them, and I will write
it on their hearts.” That means that along with our
responsibility for our life and our accountability to others in the way
we respect and help each other, we have the hope and confidence of
trusting in His Forgetfulness of our sins through His Son, Christ
Jesus. And we have the ability to forgive each other in Jesus’
Name. God is showing us that He is our Good Shepherd.
Psalm 23 helps us to KNOW HIM. Let us now read the Psalm again:
L: The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
C: HE LETS ME REST IN GREEN FIELDS. HE LEADS ME TO
L: He gives me new strength.
C: HE LEADS ME ON RIGHT AND HOLY WAYS THAT HONOR HIS
L: If I walk through a very dark valley named "death,
I will not fear, because You are with me.
C: YOUR SHEPHERD'S STAFF AND STICK COMFORT ME.
L: You prepare a table for me in-front-of my enemies.
C: YOU POUR OIL ON MY HEAD; YOU FILL MY CUP TO
L: Truly Your love and mercy will stay with me all my
C: AND I WILL LIVE IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER.
God in His awesome power works wonderful things through us.
Through giving us a trusting heart that understands what He has written
on our hearts. So that we may KNOW HIM and HIS LOVE through
Do you KNOW HIM? Do you Trust HIM to be your Good Shepherd?
Do you want HIM to be your Good Shepherd? Take comfort and know
dear friends, God will be your Good Shepherd. All you need to do
is ask Him, Believe in Him. KNOW Him like you know
yourself. I promise you He will be your best friend and your best
Guide for your life.
Thus says the LORD:
"Do not let the
wise boast in their wisdom,
do not let the
mighty boast in their might,
do not let the
wealthy boast in their wealth;
but let those who boast boast in
understand and know me, that I am the LORD;
I act with steadfast love, justice,
and righteousness in the earth,
for in these
things I delight," says the LORD.