At the time Jeremiah began his work as a prophet – around 625 BCE – the Hebrew people were divided into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom, Israel, had been conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. Jeremiah was a prophet in the southern kingdom, Judah. The biblical prophets spoke God’s word to the Hebrew people. They challenged kings and officials; they called the people of God to account with God’s law.
Judah was in turmoil when Jeremiah spoke God’s word to them. Conflict between Babylon and Egypt seemed to be forcing a choice between acquiescing to the Babylonians or serving as the first line of attack for the Egyptian Empire. Jeremiah’s message to Judah was that the Babylonians were far stronger than they were, and should not be resisted. Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would not prevail against the Babylonians because the people had rejected God and turned to idolatry. Jeremiah was considered a traitor for saying that Jerusalem and the temple were vulnerable to defeat.
From 598 - 597 BCE, Jeremiah’s prophecy came to pass. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Judah, and took many of its leading citizens into exile. In 587 Jerusalem was destroyed, and a second wave of exiles was taken to Babylon.
In the midst of national disaster Jeremiah prophesied that God would renew the promise made through Abraham and confirmed in the Exodus. But this covenant would be different. As we read in Jeremiah 34: 31-34, God’s law would no longer be an external agreement, but a covenant written on people's hearts.
This week we consider the new covenant God is making with us in our time. The days are surely coming when God will forget our sins, and God’s law will be written onto our hearts. As we make the turn towards Palm Sunday, these promises come into focus. We know that there is hope for all of God’s people through the covenant made through Jesus Christ.
Adapted from Seasons of the Spirit SeasonsFusion Lent - Easter 2018