Friday after the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:23-40 (NKJV)
23 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “They shall again use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I bring back their captivity: ‘The LORD bless you, O home of justice, and mountain of holiness!’ 24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all its cities together, farmers and those going out with flocks. 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.”
26 After this I awoke and looked around, and my sleep was sweet to me.
27 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” says the LORD. 29 “In those days they shall say no more:
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 “But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
31 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,” 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 in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” says the LORD. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name):
36 “If those ordinances depart from before Me,” says the LORD, “Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”
37 Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,” says the LORD.
38 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that the city shall be built for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The surveyor’s line shall again extend straight forward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever.”
What would it take for Israel to be restored? What would it take for the Gentiles to be added to Israel and for the Church of God to be built throughout the world? Nothing less than a new covenant.
The old covenant of the Law was always destined to pass away. The primary covenant—a covenant of grace—had already been made with Abraham and his Seed. The Law “was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19). The Seed, as the heir of the covenant with Abraham, was the only one who had the right to abrogate the covenant of the Law and institute a new covenant or “Testament” in His blood. It is a covenant of the forgiveness of sins to all who are brought into this covenant by Holy Baptism and by faith, a covenant that is repeatedly sealed and renewed to those same people in the sacred Meal of Christ’s New Testament.
As new creations in Christ and participants in His new covenant, we have the moral standards of the Law written on our hearts. As we also confess in the Apology, Art. III, “Therefore, when we have been justified by faith and regenerated, we begin to fear and love God, to pray to Him, to expect from Him aid, to give thanks and praise Him, and to obey Him in afflictions. We begin also to love our neighbors, because there is now, through the Spirit of Christ a new heart, mind, and spirit within.”
We pray: O Lord God, Who has left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of Your Passion, grant, we pray, that we may so use this Sacrament of Your Body and Blood that the fruitsof Your redemption may continually be manifest in us. Amen.