I have been reading John Stott’s Through the Bible Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006). As the subtitle indicates, the book is a collection of readings covering every book of the Bible.
The following is a reading taken from the book of Jeremiah:
“The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).
It is important to grasp that there is only one covenant of grace throughout the Bible, namely the promise God made to Abraham some four thousand years ago to bless him and his posterity and through them to bless the world. It is this covenant that Jesus ratified (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood” [1 Cor. 11:25]). It is new only in relation to Mount Sinai (see Jeremiah 31:32); it is not new in itself, for it is as old as Abraham. Consider now the terms of the new covenant.
Firstly, in the new covenant the law of God is internal: “I will put my law in their mind and write it on their hearts” (v. 33). As a result, we understand it, love it, and obey it. There is strange teaching around today that Christians are no longer under obligation to keep God’s moral law. But, on the contrary, God writes his law in our hearts in order that we may obey it.
Secondly, in the new covenant the knowledge of God is universal: “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord” (v. 34). This universality includes the Gentiles and the “priesthood of all believers.” That is, in the covenantal community of Jesus Christ, there is no hierarchy of privilege but rather an equal access of all to God through Christ.
Thirdly, in the new covenant the forgiveness of God is eternal: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (v. 34). Of course, there was forgiveness in the Old Testament (cf. Psalm 32:1-2). Yet the sacrifices continued to be offered repeatedly and interminably. But the Lord Jesus Christ offered one sacrifice for sins forever, and on the ground of his finished work God remembers our sins no more.
So these are the priceless blessings of the new covenant-an internal law, a universal knowledge of God, and an eternal forgiveness.
I enjoy reading John Stott’s books. This book of daily reading will allow me to read his writings every day in 2009. It is a good book and you will probably also enjoy reading this collection of daily readings.
NOTE: For other studies on covenants in the Old Testament, read my post, The Diversity of God’s Covenants
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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