The new covenant (Jer 31:33-31:34)

“‘But this is the covenant

That I will make

With the house of Israel,

After those days.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will put my law

Within them.

I will write it

On their hearts.

I will be their God.

They shall be my people.

No longer shall they teach

One another.

‘Know Yahweh!’

They shall all know me,

From the least of them

To the greatest.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will forgive

Their iniquity.

I will remember their sin

No more.’”

Yahweh says that the new covenant will be written in the hearts of the people of Israel. It will be within them, so that they will not have to teach each other to know Yahweh. Yahweh was going to be their God. They were to be his people, plain and simple. There was no great need for any kind of education. From the least to the greatest, they would all know Yahweh, since he was going to forget their iniquity. He was not going to remember their sins anymore. There would be a clean slate with this new covenant of interior knowledge and love. God, Yahweh, has taken the imitative to create this new spiritual personal covenant of the heart. He was going to take away retribution for past sins but wanted personal responsibility for here on out. The law was no longer imposed from outside but came from within.

The vicious request of Jeremiah (Jer 18:21-18:23)

“Therefore give their children

Over to famine!

Hurl them out

To the power of the sword!

Let their wives become childless!

Let their wives become widowed!

May their men meet death

By pestilence!

May their youths be slain

By the sword in battle!

May a cry be heard

From their houses,

When you bring the marauder

Suddenly upon them.

They have dug a pit

To catch me.

They laid snares

For my feet.

Yet you!

Yahweh!

Know all their plotting

To kill me.

Do not forgive their iniquity!

Do not blot out their sin

From your sight!

Let them be tripped up before you!

Deal with them

While you are angry!”

Jeremiah does not hold back his contempt for his adversaries. He is vicious in this lament to Yahweh. First, he wanted their children to die whether by famine or by the sword. He wanted their wives to be childless and widows. He hoped that they might die from a pestilence. He wanted their young men killed in battle. He wanted a marauder to suddenly attack them. They had plotted to catch him and kill him in a pit, as they laid snares for his feet. He told Yahweh not to forgive their iniquity, not to blot out their sins. They should be tripped up. He wanted Yahweh to deal with them while he was angry, so that they would receive a worse sentence. There was no sense of Jeremiah’s mercy or compassion here. He wanted his enemies completely destroyed.

The scattering of the evil ones (Jer 13:22-13:24)

“If you say in your heart,

‘Why have these things

Come upon me?’

It is for the greatness

Of your iniquity.

Thus your skirts are lifted up.

You are violated.

Can Ethiopians change their skin?

Can leopards change their spots?

You!

Can you do good

Since you are so accustomed to do evil?

I will scatter you

Like chaff driven by the wind

From the desert.’”

Yahweh was concerned that they did not realize what was going to happen to them. Was it their iniquity that led them to this point? Yes, they would be ashamed, because their skirts would be lifted up, as they will be sexually violated. The problem is that they cannot change their ways. Just like the Ethiopians with their dark skin cannot change their skin color, so neither can a leopard change its spots. They had become so accustomed to evil that they could not do any good things anymore. Thus Yahweh will scatter them like useless chaff with a strong desert wind.

The call of Yahweh (Isa 22:12-22:14)

“In that day,

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Called for weeping.

He called for mourning.

He called for baldness.

He called for putting on sackcloth.

But instead

There was joy.

There was festivity.

They killed oxen.

They slaughtered sheep.

They were eating meat.

They were drinking wine.

‘Let us eat!

Let us drink!

For tomorrow we die!’

Yahweh of hosts

Has revealed himself

In my ears.

‘Surely

This iniquity

Will not be forgiven you

Until you die.’

Says Yahweh,

God of hosts.”

On that day, Yahweh called on his people to weep and mourn. He wanted them to shave their heads and put on sackcloth because of the impending disaster. Instead, the people of Jerusalem decided to have a joyous festival. They killed oxen and sheep for their celebration, as they drank wine and ate meat. Then we have the famous saying that has endured through time. They cried out, “Let us eat and drink because tomorrow we die.” Yahweh of hosts was not pleased at this response. In fact, he told Isaiah explicitly that their iniquity would not be forgiven as long as they lived.

The persecution of the Israelites (Ps 106:40-106:43)

“Then the anger of Yahweh was kindled against his people.

He abhorred his heritage.

He gave them into the hand of the nations.

Thus those who hated them ruled over them.

Their enemies oppressed them.

They were brought into subjection under their power.

Many times he delivered them.

But they were rebellious in their purposes.

They were brought low through their iniquity.”

Yahweh was angry with his people. He abhorred his heritage. Thus he gave them over to other nations. They were ruled by people who hated them. They were oppressed by their enemies. They were subject to the power of other people. Yahweh had saved them a number of times. However, they were always rebelling against Yahweh. Then once again they would be brought low because of their iniquity and evil ways.