May 15, 2023
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares 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.”
How good are you at letting go of old things? My wife and I have the joy of watching our granddaughter most days. So, since she is at our home quite a bit, there are several things that are “hers”. One of those things is a water bottle that she has grown up with. When she was not much taller than my kneecaps, she would watch me put ice and water in her cup from the icemaker on the refrigerator. Eventually she grew tall enough to do it herself.
She loved that cup, but it was getting old, so we bought her a new one, with her favorite colors. But to present the new cup to her, her grandmother told her to find her cup. She dutifully grabbed the cup and brought it to her grandmother. Then grandma told her to throw the cup away. The tears immediately came to her little eyes and her shoulders began to heave, but she threw the cup in the trash. She turned facing us with tears just streaming down her face. She loved that cup! But then grandma pulled the new cup from behind some items on the counter, and the tears stopped, her eyes got wide, and a smile moved across her face like the sun emerging from behind a passing cloud. The new cup was far better than the old one. It had different features; she could hold it more easily and it keeps the ice cubes a lot longer than the old one. It didn’t take long for her sorrow to turn to joy when holding her new cup.
God has promised a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah—his people. A new covenant that would not be like the covenant he made with their fathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. That was a covenant that had conditions that they had to fulfill to stay in the land. If they failed, the Lord would remove them out of the land. Of course, they failed. And although the Lord gave them plenty of opportunities to repent, they still sought out other gods, thus abandoning the love that God desired to give them.
However, this new covenant has better features. It doesn’t depend on them fulfilling certain requirements. It is all provided by a new mediator. It comes to them by grace through faith. God describes this new covenant this way, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares 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.” This is a better covenant since it all depends on the Lord! But when did this covenant start? It started with Jesus Christ during that last supper with his disciples. In Luke 22:20, after Jesus breaks the bread, he says, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” It would be Jesus’ death that brought in the new covenant.
Our denomination is yet to live the full joy of this new covenant because we are still too segregated. This new covenant is not merely for individuals, for the text says, “And I will be their God and they shall be my people.” God’s people are from every nation, tribe, and language. Furthermore, this new covenant is placed within us and written on our hearts. Therefore, the next 50 years of our denomination’s life ought to show how good we are at letting go of old things. The old things that kept us segregated and divided in our faith. A multiethnic PCA will show that we are God’s people. Like the hymn says, “We are the Body of which the Lord is head. Called to obey him, now risen from the dead; He wills us be a family, diverse yet truly one: O let us give our gifts to God, and so shall his work on earth be done.”
Kenneth Foster is the senior pastor of Grace Church in Dover, Delaware