“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…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 31:31a, 33b NRSV)
Have you ever noticed how effective the Biblical prophets are at, (and I borrow these words from newspaperman, Finley Peter Dunne) “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted?”
The prophet Jeremiah didn’t let up on Israel and Judah while they lived lives of apostasy. Yet, once they were conquered and to exiled Assyria and Babylon, he let up on them. In fact, Jeremiah 30 & 31 are referred to as “The Book of Comfort.”
I often wonder if we’re in an exile of our own. How much more crazy and dangerous can this world get? The war and unrest in the Middle East has reached the level of bizarre and crazy. Divisive politics in America. Global warming. I’m sure you can add to this list your own worries and concerns.
Whether it’s within our families, our communities or our state or the world, we worry. We wonder, as did the exiles of old, “Is God gone? Does God still care? Has God given up on us?” Jeremiah’s answer is very clear. He promises restoration and announces that they’ll return to their homeland. It’ll be 70 years before they’re released and they’ll return to devastation. But, return they will, and they’ll rebuild again.
Perhaps you feel that you’re in exile. The world isn’t what it once was. In the midst of joy, life has a way of inserting itself and busting our happiness. And that’s when we read more of Jeremiah’s words: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord…” We can depend on those words. We can depend on God to deliver God’s promises.
He tells us that God will write the law on their hearts; that they will be God’s people and God will be their God. There will be no need to be taught the law, for everyone will know it. And, finally, that God will remember their sin no more.
The days are surely coming.
So what do we do in the meantime? What do we do in this time we call the “yet and the not yet?” How do we live in the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought in during his life that hasn’t been completed yet?
We count on God. We believe that and live out the promise that God is alive and well and active today. When we encounter the chaos of grief or war or hardship or injustice, we trust that we can turn to God and realize that God doesn’t sleep. God is there in the horribleness of it all. God is at work bringing good out of evil.
Living as a Christian we understand that we are saved by grace through faith. We are saved to live out our lives graciously and gracefully. God grants us unearned grace that we can accept as a child: greedily, joyfully and with great love for our creator.
Grace sends us out into the world to serve God’s people, from the least to the greatest. And while God does the heavy lifting, we can try and repair that small corner of our world that is cracked and broken.
It’s as true today as it was on the first day of creation. God is God and will not let us down. And while evil is rampant in the world, yesterday, today and most likely tomorrow, we can rest in the sure fact that God is also active in the world yesterday, today and definitely tomorrow.
To paraphrase Dr. David Lose, God loved this God-hating world so much that he sent the best of himself to live among us and teach us. So while we wait, we live in grace and we stand with each other to serve those who are the least, the last and the lost.
All glory and honor be to God.