By Tracy Jessup
“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.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Every year on December 28, Good Riddance Day offers the opportunity to shred, trash, burn or stomp any unpleasant, embarrassing, and unwanted memories before the start of the new year. Without a doubt, 2020 gave us plenty of memories one might prefer to destroy.
The event, which has occurred in the United States since 2006, is based on a Latin American tradition in which New Year’s revelers stuffed dolls with objects representing bad memories before setting them on fire. According to one news report, “Planet Fitness set out to understand what Americans want to say ‘good riddance’ to in 2020, so The Judgement Free Zone commissioned a national study on the topic.
Not surprisingly, the results found that the majority (88%) of Americans have at least one thing from 2020 that they want to say “good riddance” to in the New Year. Among them, nearly two in three (65%) want to say goodbye to political or election-related conversations, while 62% are eager to forget about the toilet paper crisis of 2020. Meanwhile, two in five (41%) of parents want to say “good riddance” to remote schooling in the New Year, while younger generations – including Generation Z (30%) and Millennials (28%) – are more likely than older generations — including Generation X (19%) and Baby Boomers (13%) – to want to leave video chats behind for good.”
In today’s passage, Jeremiah speaks of a new covenant, but not in the sense of “good riddance,” or that it has no continuity with the past. Rather, the new covenant would fully reveal the graciousness of God, offering to humanity that which we could not earn by our own effort or good works. It is not, however, without commandments. The new covenant is one of radical obedience to God’s commands. So, what is new about this covenant?
It is internal. God says, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (v. 33). Go writes his law not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts so that we will understand it, love it, and obey it.
It is universal. “For they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord” (v. 34). Jews and Gentiles will know God. Furthermore, this universal knowledge of God overcomes the hierarchy of social privilege. Young and old, peasant and king will share the knowledge of the Lord, “from the least of them to the greatest.”
It is eternal. The climaxing feature of the new covenant is the eternal forgiveness of God. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more” (v. 34). Under the old covenant, sacrifices continued to be offered repeatedly. In Christ, one sacrifice was offered forever, and based on the death of Christ on the cross, God remembers our sins no more. And that, my friends, is “good riddance.”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for wiping our slates clean and for writing your law on our hearts (adapted from Jeremiah 31:33-34, The Message).
Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.
Read more Good Christian News from Dr. Jessup HERE.