Fifth Sunday in Lent – March 18, 2018

Texts for the Day

The New Covenant

This week is a bit different.  This fifth and final covenant does not refer to a particular point in the history of ancient Israel.  Instead, it refers to the promise of a future, new covenant.  In order to set some context, read Jeremiah 30:1 – 31:34.  These words are written to the survivors of the fall of Jerusalem and speak of the restoration of covenants that had seemingly been broken.

Can you identify the five elements of a covenant?  This text does not have the form of a covenant in quite the same way as our previous readings, so there is more than one way to do this.

  • Suzerain: God
  • Vassal: Israel and Judah
  • Provision: I will be their God, and they will be my people
  • Stipulations: None necessary
  • Sign: Law written upon people’s hearts

The promise of a new covenant is interpreted in the New Testament as being fulfilled.  See, among many examples, Luke 22:19-23 and Hebrews 9:15.  At this point, allow me to introduce a provocative question.  Is this correct?  That is, is the New Testament interpreting the Old Testament correctly?  Some things to think about as we explore these questions.

  • What did Jeremiah think the new covenant was referring to? Would he have been surprised to see claims that it was fulfilled in Jesus?
  • When we say that the Bible is inspired, what does this mean? Do we have to accept New Testament claims about the new covenant at face value or is there room for debate?

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