God Fulfilled His New Covenant Promise
God Fulfilled His New Covenant Promise
Text: Hebrews 10:15-25
“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands . . . I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people . . . But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant . . . I will bring on you sudden terror . . . I will set my face against you . . . I will punish you for your sins.”
It couldn’t be more simple than that. God established a very clear covenant with his people. A covenant is a contract agreement between two parties. This was the simple covenant God established with his people at Mt. Sinai: If you obey me and my commands, I will bless you and be with you. If you do not obey, I will turn from you and punish you for your sins.
God didn’t use hidden codes or secret passwords or confusing words. He laid out the covenant ground rules in clear and easy to understand language. You would think that they would have listened and kept the simple terms to this covenant. After all, with such great promises of blessing from God, why wouldn’t they want to keep the covenant?
We tend to think that way often. We tell our children not to play with the fine china and not to sass back and not to fight with each other. Why wouldn’t they want to listen? Don’t they want special privileges and treats from their parents? Do they really want to spend the whole day in their rooms with no friends, no toys, and no electronics?
We think the same way in our school. We tell students to be on time, to wear their uniforms to school, to do their homework, to be respectful to each other and to teachers. Wouldn’t they want to listen? Don’t they want good grades on tests and report cards? Don’t they want special privileges and extra recess time? Do they really want tardies, detentions, suspensions, or expulsion?
The covenant contract seemed to be so simple and easy. But the evil sinful nature knows better and wants otherwise. And Satan knows better and wants otherwise.
Quickly the Israelites turned from the laws and decrees of the Lord. All those requirements about purity and cleanliness—they were just so hard to keep! Those rules about giving God the firstfruits and the best in offerings—who could afford to do that? All these feasts, festivals, and celebrations—that’s a lot of worship to do, who has time for that? Those commands to get rid of all the heathen people—why do that when you can make money off of them (or sleep with them)?
Not long after Israel made it to the Promised Land, that very same gifted land was littered with idols and altars to false gods and filled with thankless people living in greed and violence and excessive indulgence. The covenant was broken.
From the very beginning with Adam and Eve to Moses and the Israelites to us today, Satan has been tempting in the exact same way. “That isn’t what God said, is it?” “God doesn’t really want you to do that, does he?” “That’s too hard to do that, isn’t it?” And since Adam and Eve fell into sin, the evil sinful nature of mankind has been believing every lie Satan has spewed forth.
So quickly, like Israel, we turn away from the words and will of the Lord. His commandments are just too hard to keep—why even try? Giving God the first and the best in offerings—who can afford to do that? Worship every Sunday and three services during Holy Week—who has time for that? Avoid the filth, the smut, the indulgence, the luxuries of the world around us—where is the fun in that?
Before we know it, we look around and we see our homes filled with little altars and shrines built up to false gods like money, family, or fun. We look in the mirror and we see thankless people living in greed and anger and excessive indulgence. God’s people have again been unfaithful. God’s covenant has again been broken.
During these 40 days of Lent we have taken time to quietly and carefully consider our many sins. From Ash Wednesday to this evening the mood has been very sober and somber. We have failed our God. We hear God tell Israel, “If you will not listen to me . . . I will bring on you sudden terror . . . I will set my face against you . . . I will punish you for your sins,” and we know that we deserve the same.
But then we hear the gracious words of our God this evening in the first verse of the first lesson: “‘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.’” These words of the prophet Jeremiah are quoted in the second lesson from Hebrews: “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says, ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’”
Jeremiah prophesied a time when God would establish a new covenant with his people. It would be a completely different covenant contract. No longer would it be a two-sided covenant—if they obeyed, then God would be with them. This new covenant would be a one-side covenant. The only one acting in this covenant would be God.
This is how the covenant would work: God would no longer be requiring perfection from his people. Now, God would be giving perfection to his people. Again: “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” The righteousness and perfection required by God would be given to us placed on our hearts and minds. Then God adds this: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Not only would God give to his people righteousness and perfection, but he would also forgive all of their failure and sins.
For hundreds of years the words of God through the prophet Jeremiah rang out. “The time is coming . . . The time is coming . . . The time is coming.” When would this new covenant begin? When would God erase the requirements of the first covenant? When would God erase the sins of his people?
Then on this Maundy Thursday evening, alone in an upper room with his disciples, we hear Jesus speak these incredible words: “Take and eat; this is my body . . . Drink from [this cup], all of you . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
The time came. Jesus brought the new covenant. He was the one who obeyed God with perfect righteousness. His perfection was transferred over to us so that God’s laws are put in our hearts and written on our minds. His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins so that God would remember them no more.
God Fulfilled His Covenant Promise. Jesus brings the new, one-sided covenant—a covenant of grace. God now credits you with Jesus’ perfection and forgives all your sins. Verse 18: “And where these [your sins] have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” No other sacrifice is needed. Jesus was the one-time sacrifice and payment for sin to bring us forgiveness and a new life with God.
And our lives are indeed different and new now! Verse 19: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God . . .” Our lives are completely different because of this new covenant. It used to be that no sinful Israelite could come into God’s presence in the Most Holy Place of the temple. Only the priest could go behind that curtain one time a year. But now, we have confidence to come into the presence of God because of the blood of Jesus, our new and great high priest. So since God Fulfilled His Covenant Promise, and since our lives are completely different and new, and since we can have confidence to before God, there are five encouragements that we are given in Hebrews 10:
Number one, verse 22: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Because of what God has done, draw near to God. Draw near to God in worship. Draw near to God in Bible study. Draw near to God in personal Bible reading. Draw near to God in prayer. Our hearts have been sprinkled and cleansed by Jesus’ blood. Our bodies have been washed with the pure waters of baptism. We can approach God with a sincere heart and the full assurance of faith that he loves us and welcomes us. Draw near to God.
Number two, verse 23: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Because of what God has done, hold unswervingly to your hope. There are many distractions in this life. There are many troubles and sorrows in this life. There is much persecution in this life. But hold unswervingly to the hope of eternal life. God promised us heaven. He is a faithful God. He kept his promise to give us a new covenant. He will keep his promise of eternal life. Hold on to your hope.
Number three, verse 24: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Because of what God has done, spur one another on. No person, no Christian is an island. We are a family of believers. Sometimes our family members need a little spurring, a little provoking or encouraging. Encourage your fellow believers to show love to one another. Encourage your fellow believers to serve the Lord and others. Get involved yourself with your church and your school and then invite other people to do the same. Spur one another on.
Number four, verse 25a: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” Because of what God has done, gather together with others to worship and praise him. This is one way we can spur others on—we can encourage one another to keep meeting together. Some are in the habit of not coming to worship or Bible study regularly. As we consider God’s incredible love and the greatness of his new covenant, we can make sure that we are not those people and we encourage others to do the same. Gather together with other Christians.
Number five, verse 25b: “But let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Because of what God has done, encourage one another. Our days on this earth are limited. Judgment Day is coming soon. We might not have much time left. Encourage one another to make use of these limited days to worship and serve the Lord. Encourage one another.
Those are a lot of things to do and a lot of things to remember. But when you consider what God has done, it’s really very simple. God has shown us such great love and forgiveness. In response we gladly worship him and serve him and we gladly encourage others to do the same. In other words, God’s faithful love completely changes our lives.
Now this evening we are blessed to taste his love ourselves. His new covenant of grace and forgiveness will be given to you in bread and wine together with Jesus’ true body and blood. You tonight will receive this new covenant to your own lips and be reminded that your God loves you and your God forgives you.
Do this in remembrance of him. Do this in remembrance of his faithful promises. Do this in repentance. Do this receiving forgiveness. Do this with a changed heart and a changed life. Do this knowing that God kept his new covenant promise for you in Jesus.
Posted on March 29, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Communion, Confidence, Covenant, Hebrews, Hebrews 10, Jeremiah, Jesus, Lord's Supper, Maundy Thursday, New Covenant, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.