Jeremiah 31:27–34comment (0)
July 28, 2011
By Douglas K. Wilson
Related Scripture: Jeremiah 31:27–34
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
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Jesus told His disciples that the new covenant in His blood was symbolized by the cup from which they drank at the Last Supper. The writer of Hebrews explained that the new covenant superseded the old one. So what was this new covenant?
To answer this question, we must review the major Old Testament covenants. The first is the Noahic covenant, fully expressed in Genesis 9, that God would never again destroy all of humanity with a flood. Next is the Abrahamic covenant, initiated in Genesis 12 and reaffirmed in Chapter 22, that God would bless all nations through Abraham and his seed. Third is the Mosaic covenant in which God established a conditional covenant with the Israelites that He would be their God and they would be His people. The Davidic covenant is next in which God promised a royal lineage through David, including the Everlasting King (2 Sam. 7:16). Finally the fifth is God’s promise to initiate a new covenantal relationship with the descendants of Israel and Judah, one in which His laws were written in flesh (Jesus) rather than on stone (the commandment tablets).
A Prophecy of Restoration (27–28)
“The days are coming” is a general reference to the Messianic age. In these verses, they are promises of provision for Israel and Judah. In those days, God will restore the people and the livestock to the land. Instead of warfare, God’s peace will reign. The promises in this section are in keeping with Jeremiah’s calling to prophesy: “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant” (Jer. 1:10).
Judgment comes as the result of sin. God judged Israel by means of the Assyrians and Judah by the Babylonians. After facing the consequences of their rebellion, God was offering the promise of restoration.
A Problem With Rebellion (29–30)
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is a common proverb that observes that children behave like their parents.A similar proverb was popular in the kingdom of Judah’s last days: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” In essence, people cannot be held accountable for their faults. After all, they simply do what they saw theirs fathers do. God said the time was coming when this will no longer be an excuse, because each generation is accountable for its rebellious behavior.
You cannot blame your parents for your bad behavior. Psychologists and sociologists will be quick to point out that statistical analysis indicates that children often follow the patterns of their parents. Poor behavior in one generation is not an excuse for the choices made by the following one. God told the prophet Ezekiel never to quote this proverb again (Ezek. 18:1–3). Ezekiel 18 offers clear instruction that each person is accountable to God for sins he or she commits.
A Promise of Regeneration (31–33)
The Messianic age is again implied by “the days are coming.” The new covenant, though promised in Jeremiah, was not ratified until Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. When believers participate in the Lord’s Supper, they are making a public declaration that they have received Jesus’ body and blood by faith as the sign of the new covenant.
The promise was that rather than a conditional covenant, dependent upon obedience, the new covenant was unconditional, based upon the finished work of Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection.
As a result of God’s law written on the heart, the teacher is God Himself. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit is the One who teaches, the Spirit of truth who brings all things to remembrance concerning Christ.
A Personal Relationship (34)
What does the phrase “know the Lord” mean? Does it mean that you simply believe that Jesus was conceived by a virgin, lived a sinless life, died as the substitute for sinners, rose again on the third day, ascended to heaven and will return? No, even Satan knows all these things to be true. To “know the Lord” is to live in intimate fellowship with Him.