The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 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 iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Hope. Hope in God. Sometimes all we have to hold onto is hope; hope in something greater than ourselves. Hope is to cherish a desire of expectation. Hope is to place confidence or trust in the possibility of something new. Sometimes it takes a total rethinking of ourselves and others to find that hope in God.
Jeremiah delivered that word of hope to Israel in the midst of devastation and ruin. Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 587 BCE, and Judah’s leading citizens were deported and exiled, losing not only their nation but prestige and belief that they were in special relationship to God.
In the midst of chaos, God’s special relationship to us is available, leading us forward toward new birth, renewal, and restoration that can arise from the ashes. God loves us and redeems us with unmerited grace “written upon our hearts.” God’s spirit is within us, calling us back to obedience and response to God’s love for us.
The Book of Jeremiah, filled with warnings and admonishments, centers on the hope of Jeremiah 31:31-34, known as the little book of consolation. It assures us that God is always with us as the Creator, who deeply wants us to return from our willful ways. When sorrow comes, as often it does, and our world feels as if it is crashing down, God’s covenantal love redeems(?) us from our broken ways and brings newness out of brokenness, hope out of hopelessness. Today’s world is replete with political conflict and natural disasters, full of fast-paced technologies and competing world powers. Placing our confidence and hope in God’s covenantal love for us allows us to live out our true character and to be who we are made to be, with hope in God’s Kingdom — not here yet, but assuredly coming.
And, in the meantime, “I will be their God, and they will be my people,” says the Lord, a promise for all people as we reach out to love one another and ourselves through God’s indwelling Spirit.