2018-12-27 Why, O why, Lord?

Good Morning!

I woke to a couple inches of snow today. It is beautiful outside! We hope to get more throughout the day.

Before I even got out of bed, the thought of The New Covenant came to my mind. Then, as I opened up my bible this morning, it fell right to that spot in Jeremiah. It would seem that God wants me to write about that.

The New Covenant is different than the Old. In the old, we were required to strictly follow the law. Because this is impossible, God commanded the Israelites to offer daily sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. The problem is that this act was itself turned into a sinful practice. All in all, even when man has the means to be clean and therefore the potential to have union with God, our very nature turns away from him and chases foolishly after gods of our own imagination. But God knew all this and had more in store through what we call The New Covenant. We see this prophecy as early as Moses.

Deuteronomy 30:6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

This was further picked up by Jeremiah and Ezekiel and confirmed in Hebrews.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 “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 out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But 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. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Ezekiel 11:19-20 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 36:22-32 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanesses, and from all your idols. I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

Hebrews 8:6-13 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says…[quotes Jeremiah 11:31-34]…. In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

There you have it.

Now, there is a ton of material here to dissect, and the bible goes into great detail to explore all this in great detail. For our purposes, I want to focus on a couple things. First, this is an unmerited gift. Notice the beginning of Ezekiel 36, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations…..” Ouch. This is very similar to what God told the Israelites as he drove the nations before them. This is worth looking at.

Deuteronomy 9:4-6 “Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.

I think this lesson, even though it is Old Covenant, has a reminder that smacks of our rightful place in the big picture. We are being granted an incomprehensible gift through God acting for the sake of his name. If I read this correctly, I don’t deserve any favor from him. If I do indeed receive anything, it is solely out of God’s mercy.

Second, I must not forget where I came from and what I was before God changed me. “Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.” I have found this to be true. More and more, God opens my eyes to my sin, past and present. I look back and, yes, I loathe my sin and my abominations. Incidentally, abomination is a noun that is a thing that causes disgust or hatred. Think about that. My life was one that caused God to disgust me and, yes, even hate me. Is that possible? I think so.

Third, how can we possibly put grace and mercy in proper perspective unless we realize just how desperate and hopeless our situation was – a situation we made by our own doing even though we knew a different path? How frightening is that? I was marching straight to hell, looking back over my shoulder and shaking my fist in God’s face while cursing his name. Why, oh why, Lord, would you grant mercy to me?

Father, thank you for this reminder. Amen.

Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers

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