For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Hebrews 8, verses 7-12.
It’s like God was saying “folks, you just don’t get it. In fact, that is what He was saying, and doing, and is why He kept instituting new covenants to benefit mankind until, finally, one could be instituted that would be eternally complete. Keep this thought at hand: this was for our benefit, not His. This was to prepare us, NOT because God had to practice to get it right. All throughout human history, since the fall in Eden, God has been reaching out, preparing us for the ways and the time when He would restore a clear path to Himself again. In Eden, Adam and Eve were without sin. They lived in full harmony with God, seeing Him face to face, talking with Him one on one. It’s how God designed people to live.
Enter sin. Enter the serpent. Enter falling into temptation. Enter the divide. Millenia later, we’re still in that divide. Many thousands of years after Adam, 4500 years after Abraham, 4000 years after Moses and even 2000 years after Jesus, mankind is still in the divide between himself and his God Almighty. You and I can disagree with that, and we can rail against the fact of it. We don’t like it when people confront us with ugly truths, but they’re still truths. We’re full of sin and unable on our own to walk with God. It’s true for you. It’s true for me. It’s true for your saintly mom, Billy (and Franklin) Graham, Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict), the heroes fighting for freedom in Afghanistan, and even my minister friend, Raymond, in Africa who does practical Godly ministry better than anyone else I know.
Jesus built the bridge. Jesus serves as the path between sinful men and our perfect God. Jesus forgives all our sins and teaches us how to turn from them. And He clothes us in Himself so that, when the perfect Father sees us, He sees us through the prism of His perfect Son. Without Jesus, God (who sees everything) sees an unholy person who can’t be in His presence because His holy presence requires holiness. Without Jesus, sins aren’t forgiven. Without Jesus, the old covenants of Moses and David still hammer us with unachievable law, requirements that we still misunderstand and can never fully comply with. Without Jesus, there is no path to God. Mohammed can’t get you there. Buddha and years of navel-gazing can’t get you there. Paiute, chanting to Mother Gaia, praying to your ancestors, and a thousand Hindu gods can’t get you to God. Only Jesus.
This is true because God instituted the new covenant that He promised in the verses above (much of which are quoted from the prophet Jeremiah). What men couldn’t make right through our insufficient means and petty pagan religions God made right through the selfless sacrifice of Himself in His Son. We didn’t ‘get that’ when it happened. Far too many of us still don’t today.
For further reading: Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Exodus 19:4, 5, 20: 1-17, Romans 11:27, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Ezekiel 11:20, Zechariah 8:8, Isaiah 54:13, John 6:45, Luke 22:20.
Lord God, I praise You for making things right, for Your selfless sacrifice that purchased salvation for all of us. Thank You more than I can say.