31 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. 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.
Jeremiah speaks here of a new covenant that God– in the future -- would institute. Unlike the previous covenant, which was written on stone tablets, this covenant would be written on hearts. That is, instead of being an external covenant, this one would be internal. While the covenant made through Moses came with rules and regulations that clearly spelled out God’s directives for the covenant people, there would come a time when such a thing would no longer be necessary.
An internally driven faith, which is what Jeremiah had in mind, requires great maturity. Although we often speak of the Last Supper as the moment at which Jesus instituted a new covenant, we must ask ourselves, have we reached the point of maturity, so that our faith can be truly internally driven? Or, do we still need the guidelines that the law provides? Can we say that the law has been sufficiently written on our hearts?
As we consider these questions, it would be helpful to consider what it means to be in covenant with God. From a biblical perspective, to be in covenant with God means that we commit ourselves, at God’s invitation, to be in relationship with God. Our use of covenant language to describe what happens in a marriage – where the two be come one – is helpful in understanding this new relationship.
To be in covenant with God is to be in union with God – to be one with God. Such union doesn’t happen automatically. It is something that happens over time as we walk with God, work with God, and talk with God. The union begins in baptism, when the covenant relationship is first struck. It is nourished as we gather at the Table with sisters and brothers. It is extended as we work together doing the work of God in the world, bearing witness to Jesus’ word of reconciliation.
Reprinted from 2010 Central Woodward Christian Church Lenten Devotional Guide, edited by John McCauslin.