This year our church, Green Pond Bible Chapel, put together an Advent Devotional. With contributions from many of our members, we took focus on the hope, love, peace, and joy that Christ brought us and how we can respond in faith this Christmas Season. Below is my submission on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and the hope we have in Christ’s regenerative work:
Israel was in grave trouble. Despite God’s warnings through Jeremiah and other prophets, Israel did not turn back to the Lord and he was about to punish them through Babylon’s conquest. Although they had the opportunity to avoid punishment, they were already doomed because of their hardness of heart. Yet, toward the end of God’s Word through Jeremiah, God starts making positive promises for the future. One of those good news promises is captured in chapter 31:31 as the “new covenant”, where God will enable his people to obey by giving new hearts. Though Israel has broken Moses’ law in the past, God is promising to an unfaithful Israel that there will be a coming time when he will fulfill His own law for their good! Amazing. Absolutely amazing. What does this new covenant look like? In 31:33 God promises to put his teaching in their hearts. “Teaching” captures both a knowledge of who God is and an obedience to his ways. Since God writes this teaching on the hearts of his people (they can’t put it there) they will live in faithful accordance to it. They will live and love God as their King! That results in the almost unbelievable situation of 31:34, there will be NO need to teach others to “know the Lord”, meaning personally know, trust, and obey Him, for ALL will know Him. This is a result of God’s promise to forgive his people’s iniquity. What hope does an unwaveringly unfaithful Israel have? None, apart from God’s fulfillment of his covenant and gracious promise to be patient and mercifully work in the hearts and lives of his people. Hope stands on the faithful promises of our God.
This promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. When he came to us, died for us, rose again victorious, he completed Moses’ law for us. The requirements we could never reach, he met for us. He now extends the offer of forgiveness and a renewed heart to everyone. It is only by his new covenant work that we can personally know, trust, and obey God in love. This is the good news of the gospel and the reason we celebrate Christmas. Our hope stands on the faithfulness of Christ Jesus. Hope wavers with the circumstances around us. It is always a draw to focus on money, relationships, big decisions, grievances, pride, our sin, health problems, and much more. That is our sinful bent causing despair. Yet, the gospel message pierces this darkness of despair by reminding us of God’s love for us and reminding us hope comes with Christ’s work that literally enables us to love him through the Spirit. But hope is not just limited to 2000 years ago, or even in the present, but also in a time to come. Jeremiah’s anticipation of new covenant fulfillment has been partially realized, but is not yet complete. We await a day when Christ will return once more and bring his people into eternity, where we will know the Lord fully. And as we wait, we know that hopeful living is marked by knowing God, trusting his promises, depending on him for all things, and committing to his kingly ways.
What are some situations that cause you despair? What things or people do you look for hope in?
Why can hope only be found in God? How does he meet your deepest needs?
What would it look for you to recognize the reality of your difficult situations, while also submitting yourself to God’s plan to use those situations to grow your faith in him?
How can you grow in your knowledge of and love for God as your King?
What’s the benefit of anticipating the fulfillment of the New Covenant when God brings his people to himself in New Creation?
Praise God for his kingship, sovereignty, and good commands he helps us keep.
Praise God that his down payment on his yet-to-be-fulfilled-promises is his own Son.
Praise God that our need to be right with him was fulfilled by Jesus.
Confess your despair, pray through your situations and your responses of doubt.
Confess your attempts at finding hope in things or people other than God.
Pray for godly hope founded on his faithful promises, and increased knowledge and love for God
Pray for the Spirit’s power to help you live a hope-filled life of obedience.
If you would like to read the rest of Green Pond Bible Chapel’s Advent Devotional: click here.