Saturday, January 27, 2018

Covenant of Day and Night

If you can break my covenant of the day and my covenant of the night, so that there should not be day and night in their season, then may my covenant be broken with David my servant, so that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne... Jeremiah 33:10-11

Sometimes the Lord needs to repeat himself.  Even Jeremiah had stopped praying to God, and in the prison where he was being held the Lord spoke to him and told him that if he called on him, if he prayed to him, the Lord would answer with great visions that had never seen.  Interestingly, God immediately shows Jeremiah a vision that he had seen before (32:24).  Why? Because the message for us is not in God's chastisement of Jeremiah.  He's not telling us that if we call out to him, he will give us visions and words of prophecy.  No, he's telling Jeremiah not to give up on being a prophet, just because he is in prison.  He's, at the same time, telling us that we need to not give up just because the world is hostile towards us.  Pray to him, through the scriptures, and he will speak to us through the scriptures.  He told Jeremiah something that he had forgotten, which is that he would never leave nor forsake him, and then he tells him something important that he had already told him before, a prophecy for Israel and Judah.  Likewise, he tells us something that we have forgotten, that he will never leave us nor forsake us, but he's not going to tell us anything new that cannot be found in scripture.  The Bible is all we need.  The prophecy for Israel and Judah is also for us, because we are in the church, and Israel and Judah make up the church.

This is an important point to remember when reading the scriptures.  Of course, they are all about Jesus, but they are also about the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church.  The Bible speaks to us as individuals but even more so as members of Christ's body.  Christ saves us because he saves the church, and we are members of the church through faith.  This is important to remember, because if we are believing that Jesus has a relationship with us apart from his church, we may be worshiping a different Christ.  Many today clutch tightly to the "personal relationship" with God and at the same time reject the church altogether.  Without the church, though, texts like Jeremiah 33 have no application for us and we are left attempting to apply verse 3, meant for Jeremiah himself, to our lives, and we end up seeking visions and prophetic words outside of scripture. We can understand this chapter better if we apply this prophecy of Jeremiah 33 to ourselves not as individuals but as the church.

The church is disparaged today, as it has been throughout history.  We may not be individually feeling the wrath of the world upon us, but we can see the church being crushed violently wherever it attempts to share the gospel and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The church attempts to fight against the secular world, playing by the world's rules, but as we see from history, the result is the church's own demise, either by becoming secularized itself or becoming persecuted more mercilessly.  God allows the world to persecute the church, because when the church loses its faith in the God of the Bible, he hides his face from it.  Remember, we may not lose our individual faith in Christ--there is always a remnant--but the church as a whole may.  We feel the persecution, more or less, dependent on how closely aligned with the true church we are.

In the midst of persecution, however, God remembers his true church and nourishes it back to health.  He reveals to his church both peace and truth.  He restores the church to its rightful place.  God doesn't stop there, he goes further.  He cleanses his church of sin, for there is no deliverance, no joy, without the remission of sins.  And this remission of sins can only be found inside the church.  The fact that the church has not perished in the face of persecution, that it continues to thrive even in the bleakest of places, causes the world to take note.  Even today, when we think that the end is near for Christians, God still preserves his church.  From the outside it seems desolate, but from inside comes the sound of singing.  In this church that seems desolate, there is a resting place for the flocks of the Lord, for the Good Shepherd to tend to his people.

The desolation shall be filled again. The empty churches will be glutted with voices of praise. God promised it to Israel.  He promised it Judah.  And he promises it to his church.  And the promise is, of course, Christ, the branch of righteousness from David.  He was born in Bethlehem, the Messiah, and he walked the earth and died for our sin.  He will come again to judge the quick and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.  The church is saved through Christ. What's more: this glorious reign of Christ was set in stone from the beginning.  Never was the throne of David to be left empty, God assures Jeremiah. Neither shall the church be without a priest to sacrifice.  Christ is the great high priest, and he committed the greatest sacrifice--himself for the sins of the whole world of believers.  His is a single sacrifice that satisfies continually, replacing the continual sacrifices of the earthly priests.

Here next is the focus of the prophecy.  How glorious is the Lord in that he will never let destruction befall his church!  The covenant of the day and night are our pillars.  The Lord tells us that if we are able to break those covenants so that there is no day and night, remembering that these covenants were established on the first day of creation, then he would in return break his covenant with Christ, the king and great high priest.  Since we are unable to break such strong covenants as NIGHT and DAY, there is no way the covenant of Christ will fail.  Remember, night and day existed without the sun and moon, without astronomical bodies, so even the failure of the sun in the sky will not break the covenant.

Hope comes in the form of Christ!  Never let the world tell us that the church is done.  Never will it die.  Never can it be destroyed.  If the Lord has no covenant with day and night, if he has not created heaven and earth, then Christ is cast out.  Since those covenants are unbreakable, more so is the covenant with Christ unbreakable and everlasting.  The captive church will be restored, for the Lord has compassion on all his children.  Look to the pillars of day and night and know that God will never forsake us.