Thursday, 21 May 2009

I make all things new

I am preparing, sort of, for a week's conference in Devon beginning this coming Friday. I am pretty sure my topic is going to be the New Covenant! Isn't it always? you ask! Well, perhaps not always but you're pretty close.

I suppose it's partly because I am editing the manuscript for my book, "a better covenant" but much more because this topic constantly grips me. It thrills be to see the way in which God tried to prepare his people for the New Covenant, using just about every image you could imagine.

In the major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel we have the theme of Israel's exile into Assyria and Babylon. Each of these prophets begins with dire warnings which become more and more urgent. When Judah's unremitting sin made exile inevitable these prophets begin to see 'past' the exile to the time of a restoration.

Their themes are the same although their imagery is different. Isaiah predicts a new exodus which he describes as a 'new thing'. Isaiah 43:19 The people are not to remember the way God did 'exodus' before. The past was no pointer for the future. Jeremiah declares a 'new covenant' that will quite specifically be 'unlike' the old covenant; Jer 31:31. Whereas Ezekiel promises a new heart and a new spirit and the Spirit of God indwelling them; Ezek 36:26 and that the 'old' stoney heart will be removed.

All in all it seems that God used everything he could to make the point that he was about to do something which was 'new'. The writer to the Hebrews declares that it is a better covenant based on better promises; Heb 8:6 You will understand my bewilderment then when one ancient Bible commentator who is followed by millions of Christians states that there is 'no difference of substance between the old and new covenants but only a difference of form'; he means there are different rituals and ordinances.

How can something which is better have no substantial differences? The tragedy is that so many Christians do not enjoy a 'better covenant' but live a life which would be much more appropriate to the old covenant. May the Lord open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive the fulness which he has prepared for us.

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