Sunday’s Scripture – Jeremiah 31:31-34
In this week’s text God foretells of a coming covenant that will reconcile the fractured relationship between God and God’s people. This new covenant will heal all brokenness – physical and spiritual. Receiving this new covenant will begin a process of renewal and transformation of all creation whereby God will reclaim God’s people and all the earth for God’s purposes alone. This process is one that God will complete in God’s time – we don’t know the day or the hour of its completion. We do know that we presently live in the goodness of this new covenant and we wait expectantly for God to complete the redemption of all creation.
As Christians from a Wesleyan perspective, we can discuss in our theological vocabulary what happened to the people of Israel when they received this new covenant – a covenant of grace-filled forgiveness – without challenging the integrity of this Old Testament text. We do not want to project onto or read into a text. This is known as eisegesis – the process of misinterpreting a text by projecting our own presuppositions or biases onto it. (This includes being a Christian and reading an Old Testament text!) We could jump to or gloss over everything in the Old Testament and say the answer is Jesus…but the answer isn’t always Jesus…and that’s okay! So when it comes to eisegesis – in the vein of The W’s – it is BAD! Therefore, we want to engage in exegesis – the process of providing a critical explanation or interpretation of a text by enlivening information lifted up by the Scripture text. So exegete…because it’s good for you!
(Now after that break for our Eisegesis vs. Exegesis PSA – back to Jeremiah 31:31-34!)
In receiving the new covenant the people of Israel were, as Wesley would say, justified and regenerated. Justification, Wesley believes, “changes our outward relation to God, so that of enemies we become children” and by regeneration he believes “out inner most souls are changed, so that of sinners we become saints” (John Wesley, The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God, Point 2. You have view the full sermon here.) In justification we know that God has acted on our behalves; God has rescued and saved us! This is not something we could have done for ourselves. In regeneration we are completely changed from the inside out; no longer are we shaped by sin but we are shaped by grace and that translates into every movement of our lives.
Israel’s disobedience, their idolatry, their sin deemed them contrary to God, opponents of God, enemies of God, but God’s grace transformed them and their circumstance, showering them with forgiveness and calling them children. Those who were once blameful in exile are now blameless in restoration through the new covenant. Sinners became saints, and enemies, children, and ultimately friends.
The same goes for us. Our disobedience, idolatry, and sin makes us contrary to, opponents and enemies of God, but God’s grace continually transforms us and our circumstances that we may be children of God.
Reflection: Take time today to thank God for this grace. Share a personal experience of God’s grace with someone. Pray for our friends that continue resisting the powerful transformation that awaits them in God’s grace. Pray for strength as you live each day as a witness of the power and movement of God’s grace.