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You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NIV) says: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it 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,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (end reference) Today’s verse is Paul living out this prophecy we see in Jeremiah. All because of Christ, we bear witness to and live in times when the Holy Spirit of God Himself writes on our hearts! Those who believe become the testimony of God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness! The Holy Spirit is crafting God’s purposes through your life.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.
The Holy Spirit makes His residence with us by faith in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways that I do not fully understand, like being involved in the process of salvation. Who is it that has the power to turn our hearts from unbelief to faith? It is only by the power of God that the hearts of men radically change course, whether by instruction, crisis, encounter, emotion, or some other way. All of this is to reinforce that Christ is the Master Key to our relationship with our loving Father in Heaven, and the door to His heart cannot be moved by any other means. It is magnificent grace that even Gentiles could be restored to Him – and yet we are not merely restored, but empowered as well by His own Spirit. Thank you Jesus, for accomplishing the impossible work that only You could! You are worthy Lord!
“Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. If you do, I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. I will give you leaders who will be faithful to me. They will lead you with knowledge and insight.
Through Jeremiah, God is calling Israel to repentance and pointing toward a future for them when He will give them shepherds after His own heart. God uses marital terminology to describe His relationship with Israel; Him as the husband and Israel as the bride. Similar terms are used in the New Testament to describe Christ's relationship with the church. John the Baptist testifies this way about Christ saying in John 3:28-30: "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less." The call to repent comes from Jesus, and today we experience that same call to repent by grace through faith in Christ. He is our husband, and we are His bride.
At that time those left in Israel, those who remain of the family of Jacob, will no longer rely on a foreign leader that abuses them. Instead they will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will come back, a remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people, Israel, are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a remnant will come back. Destruction has been decreed; just punishment is about to engulf you. The sovereign master, the Lord who commands armies, is certainly ready to carry out the decreed destruction throughout the land.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord God swayed nations to deal with Israel exactly according to His sovereign purposes. Sometimes this meant that Israel prospered, and others it meant that they suffered greatly, even to the point of exile into serving other nations. Today we see another example of the Lord dealing with Israel, along with a promise to reserve a remnant who will truly rely on the Lord – the Holy One of Israel: that is, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. While Israel suffers throughout history because of their constant rebellion against God, God never forsakes them completely, and promises to deliver not only them, but all people through them in Christ Jesus. God’s story is redemptive, and the truth brings hope to all.
For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing— to the latter an odor from death to death, but to the former a fragrance from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
As we go forth to preach the gospel, some people will hear and believe, others will hear and reject Christ. John sees a vision of Christ in Revelation 1 and describes, “In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword”. The words of Christ, speaking the truth about God and pointing the way to God through Himself, are life to some and death to others. The swords edges are life and death. When the sword pierces those who will believe, they are saved unto eternal life, but when it pierces those who will not, they are condemned to eternal death and torment.