The past few weeks I've been reading through the book of Jeremiah. I'm about halfway through so I didn't have much trouble finding sections that remind us of our brokenness and depravity. Jeremiah is given message after message of God's impending wrath and the disobedience of his people and their spiritual adultery.
It's nearly impossible to read without feeling a certain amount of guilt on your shoulders as you see your own actions reflecting the actions of Israel: ignorance, arrogance, and a rejection of God's goodness.
The book starts with a short exposè of God's perfect intentions for his people where he reminds them, through Jeremiah, that they were supposed to be "A blessing to all nations of the world" and that "All people would come and praise [God's] name" through them (Gen 4:2 NLT). However, It's fairly clear from the statements surrounding this one that Israel has done a less than superb job of living up to this calling: they're accused of following worthless gods, and of being an adulterous wife.
Judgement after judgement is proclaimed over the people: culminating at the phrase "How Can I Pardon you? For even your children have turned from me and sworn by gods who are not gods at all" (5:7). To be fair: "culminating" might not be the best term: since the proclamations of Israel's hopelessness goes on for a couple dozen more chapters, but the statement rings true none the less: how can God forgive these people who have so fully rejected him?
It's not hard to find comparison between ourselves and Israel when we read this passage: we're all equally as guilty of rejecting God for our own selfish interests as these people. I found myself (unfortunately) relating to king Jehoiakim as he ignored all of God's warnings until there was a real and present threat and then only reluctantly submitting to God's will so he wouldn't get in trouble (and even that was temporary, until he felt like he had control again). Indeed: as we read down we have to ask the question "How can God pardon us?"
Well, thankfully it doesn't end with all the proclamations of Judgement. In Chapter 31:31 God makes a beautiful statement of reassurance. That despite all of Israel's unfaithfulness "a day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah" He goes on to say that the israelites will have his law written on their hearts. That everyone, from the greatest to the least, will know God and that he will remember their wickedness no more. This covenant, God says, will not be like the old covenant.
In the past God's covenants was based on a stipulation: the people had to follow God's law in order to receive his blessing and protection. Over and over they failed to keep up their end of the bargain. Here we see promised a covenant that will change them forever.
The Israelites had no idea of what that covenant might bring and how God would be able to "remember their Sin no more" But we know now that this covenant has been fulfilled in Christ. That God himself came in the form of a man and took on all of our guilt for us so that we could be freed from the burden of our sins should we come under his protection. And indeed: when God looks at Christ he remembers our Sin no more.
As we come together this Sunday to worship as a family it is a time for us to collectively celebrate our forgiveness, A reminder that we have been made new and that despite our wickedness: God has saved us through Christ.
"There is a Fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins
And Sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains"