Vicar Matt Doebler
Matins Devotional: November 3, 2022
In our Old Testament reading, we hear the graphic message that the Lord has sent the prophet Jeremiah to proclaim to the faithless people of Israel and Judah. Remember that this is the people who once were not a people. The people whom God raised up through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The people whom God rescued from the land of slavery. The people with whom God gave his covenant through Moses. The people to whom God said that I desire to dwell in the very midst of you, to shepherd you and lead you, to lead you into a good land flowing with milk and honey.
But how have these people responded to God’s gracious favor? By trampling on his covenant. By polluting the good land God gave them with their spiritual infidelity. By becoming the personification of apostasy. By prostituting themselves with the gods of other nations. By driving God to the point of divorce.
When God says that I have “sent her away with a decree of divorce” he is saying that the covenant is irrevocably broken. The abhorrent sins of his people have rendered the marriage contract null and void. Even while the Lord is still pleading with his wayward people to return—to repent—to seek his forgiveness and mercy—he knows this will not possible under the original covenant. The marriage is finished. The divorce is final. Not because God was unfaithful—but because his people were. If restoration is going to come—it’s going to require a new covenant—a restored marriage—a pure bride.
Later, Jeremiah will point to this new covenant that God will make with his people. This new covenant will not be like the first one—it will not demand perfect obedience from the people. Rather, he says that, through this new covenant, God will forgive the iniquity of his people and he will remember their sin no more.
That’s why that, on the night that Jesus institutes his Holy Supper, he says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.He becomes the mediator of a better covenant, one that will never be set aside, never end in a decree of divorce, because it isn’t predicated on the performance of sinners, but on the sinless perfection of the Son of God. Through this new, eternal covenant, Christ sprinkles his holy and precious blood on his bride, the Church, and in doing so cleanses her from all impurity—past, present, and future.
That’s why in Revelation we see the Church coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The shame of her prostitution has been taken away. Through the blood of Christ, she has been cleansed of all her impurities. The Last Day is an eternal wedding day—where the whole Christian Church is presented to Christ as a pure virgin bride. Where the radiance of Christ is her jewel. The righteousness of Christ is her crown. And the holiness of Christ is her covering. Forever and ever. Amen.