No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their inquiry, and remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:34.
This verse flows from the recounting of the Jews being released from captivity in Babylon and articulates one of, if not the greatest, ‘do-overs’ provided by God to Israel. The remaining and broken Israelites are given a new beginning through a new covenant with God. For all the sin that led to their destruction and bondage, God is declaring that he is gifting them full forgiveness and forever putting aside their past. He then takes it a step further for, while this new covenant remains rooted in the Commandments, he declares (verse 33) the Commandments are now being written onto the hearts of the people. They are now inside each person to embrace, examine, and follow, allowing each to “know the Lord” and, as it would then follow naturally, in the right knowing will be the right doing, both in response to God and to one’s neighbor. The good news of this verse is that it is a living and permanent new covenant that extends to us. Jesus taught and lived its message over and over again. Paul believed and preached this covenant as manifesting itself in full through the coming of Jesus (see Hebrews 8:8-12). Martin Luther saw it as foundational to the sense of God’s mercy and grace offered and given continuously regardless of one’s merit to receive it. In this season of Lent, as each of us reflects on our individual exile, the ways in which we haven’t known or chosen to know God, and those thoughts, words, and deeds which require forgiveness, we must give thanks for God’s continued covenant of love and forgiveness.
Prayer: Dear Lord, with grateful hearts, we thank you for the new covenant given so many centuries ago and which you yet continually offer and honor. You sent Jesus to remind us what you have inscribed on our hearts, to teach us how to ‘know the Lord’, and to bring us out of exile. In Jesus’ name, we ask for the continued grace, strength, and understanding to know you.