I popped a grape in my mouth the other day, expecting it to be sweet. Whew! It set my teeth on edge, the oddly satisfying pain shooting down my jawline. My daughter, however, knew nothing of this sensation.
Isn’t this an odd metaphor for Jeremiah to employ to illustrate the unjust consequences that follow from a broken covenant? How does eating a grape reflect infidelity to God? The sourness is a surprise, not a choice. Yet, the echo of the promise resounds that we shall rest under our grapevine and fig tree no longer to be afraid (see Micah 4:4).
God has had enough of plucking up and breaking down. Let the one who snacks on a sour grape suffer the bite alone. Let the children be free of the punishment for their ancestors’ failings. Let us also leave behind the metaphor of marriage for this relationship. The divine husband of the earlier covenant that was made in the wilderness wanderings after the Exodus was a cuckold. But that is not who God really is. The future covenant ties the divine directly to each individual—from the least to the greatest—and to the people as a whole. All will know without searching the God who forgives, reconciles, restores, and nourishes without mediation, without barrier. Humans and their livestock will know fruitfulness and will be filled with the seed of divine providence and pleasure. This covenant is neither abstract nor exterior; it is a permanent mark deep inside, written on each heart.
Our heart’s desire, we give thanks for your covenant, your claiming of us in love. Soften and inscribe our hearts to you once more. Amen.
At last Jeremiah is able to bring a message of restoration and hope. God promises a new covenant with the people, and they will internalize the law in their hearts so that they will keep it. The psalmist rejoices in such a reality. He meditates on God’s law all day and has been granted profound understanding. This allows him to walk faithfully in God’s paths. The reading from Second Timothy confirms the ongoing power of God’s law in scripture, which is given by God for our good. Timothy is charged always to be ready to preach it faithfully. Luke hits on a different theme: the importance of persistent prayer. In the parable a heartless judge finally yields to a persistent widow, so we should be similarly tenacious with our prayers to God.
Read Jeremiah 31:27-34. How have you broken your covenant with God? How has God responded?
Read Psalm 119:97-104. The Jewish laws of the Hebrew scriptures are part of our Christian heritage. How can you delight in the law?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. How can you learn or teach from scriptures you do not normally read?
Read Luke 18:1-8. Through the familiar call to pray always, the author reminds us that we are called to pray for what God wants. What is at stake when you pray for justice and mercy?
Respond by posting a prayer.