The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
The phrase “The days are surely coming” jumps out at me in our text this morning. These words are not spoken by a former resident of Jerusalem, though they could have been. Jerusalem has been destroyed. Her people have carried away into captivity. All appears to be lost. Certainly, life has changed for the worst. All of Israel and Judah might have wanted to say “The days are surely coming when this exile will be over and life will be good once more.” We find what those captive Hebrews did say in Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. 2On the willows there we hung up our harps. 3For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? “
No, these words are spoken by God. As such they ooze implications about who God is and how God acts. First, God gets tired as in tired of things the way they are. Tired of the status quo. Surely the days are coming when life will be different.
Second, God looks forward. God sees beyond the here and now that can be so overwhelming to us. God looks ahead to that time when God will get what God wants –reconciliation, justice, the whole of creation made new.
Third, God is hopeful, right now the world does not look like I want it to look, but surely the days are coming when the life my creatures share together will be better.
Fourth, God persists, we know this because God said “Surely the days are coming’ instead of “Look at the mess you’ve made, I quit.” God does not walk away, God persists. God keeps on being God. God continues to love steadfastly, forgive indiscriminately and redeem with abandon.
All of that from a phrase, “surely the days are coming.” It just strikes me as a hopeful and empowering phrase. I don’t have to tell you all reasons and all the ways that you could choose to despair. From gun violence and school shootings to sexual abuse and human trafficking, the reasons to turn away from the world are numerous. Yet, God does not turn away from us. God turns to us with a certain kind of empathy to say surely the days are coming. . . when God will put God’s law within us, and will write it on our hearts; and God will be our God, and we shall be God’s people.