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O Love that will not let me go, part 3

January 9, 2007

Now let’s look at the heart of this text, the two central verses 19-20 that expound upon the effect of the new covenant…


II. He makes a new covenant and betroths us to Himself forever (read 19-20)


Let me help you see the beauty of this verse by showing you its structure.

I will betroth you to me forever.

I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.

I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.

The two outer terms bracket the four attributes of God at the heart of the verse.  Put the two outer terms together and you get eternal faithfulness.  Our betrothal to God is eternal and unbreakable because God is faithful even when we are unfaithful.  Here is the foundation of our eternal security.


The biblical idea of betrothal is much stronger than our modern idea of engagement.  A betrothal was legally binding.  A betrothal required the paying of a bride price.  And God betrothed us to himself by paying a bride price.  Jesus the bridegroom paid the price himself by paying the penalty for sin that was demanded by divine justice.  He purchased us back from slavery to our sins even as we will see illustrated next week by Hosea purchasing his adulterous wife Gomer out of her slavery.  And if you understand the necessity of this payment, then you’ll understand what it means that he betrothed us to himself in righteousness and justice as well as in steadfast love and in mercy.  His love for us did not force him to throw away his justice and defile his own righteousness by uniting himself with a whore like us.   No, he found a way to be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus.  He offered Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and paid the bride price to make us legally his.  And if our betrothal is based on such a foundation and purchased with such a price, you can be sure that it is will be upheld by his faithfulness forever.


And because of what God has done in betrothing us to himself in this way, now the result is guaranteed in verse 20, that we shall know the Lord. Hear again the similarity to the New Covenant promise in Jeremiah 31 that in that day they all will know the Lord from the least to the greatest.   And clearly in this context knowledge is not just intellectual knowledge.  This is intimate knowledge.  This is Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived knowledge.  This is Joseph took Mary as his wife but knew her not until she had given birth to a son knowledge. 

So let us seek to know him with our hearts, our affections.  Let us seek to lavish our devotion upon him now in passionate worship even as we read in verses 21-23


“And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel,1 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy,1 and I will say to Not My People,2 ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”


These are mysterious verses, but what we see here is some kind of cosmic liturgical celebration of new covenant.  In Romans 8 the creation groans for the sons of God to be revealed.  Our redemption consummates in the redemption of the whole creation when Jesus Christ is revealed.  The word for answer here could also be translated sing.  It’s the same word used up in verse 15, “there she shall answer, or the NIV says, sing as in the days of her youth.  But whether the response here is pictured as a choral response or not, it is clear that God is aiming for a response to his love.  We need to respond to his love.  We will respond to his love if we are really his because his love is irresistible. 


One of the recurring messages of God through the OT prophets was “Return to Me and I will return to you”  But when the prophets preached that message, they were preaching law.  Now that’s not a bad thing, we need to preach the law because the law brings conviction of sin and points us to our need for Christ.  But the preaching of the law is ultimately not effectual in producing saving faith and repentance for sin.  After all, ultimately Israel did not return to God.  And so in the New Covenant God does not wait for us to return to him, but he returns to us and then turns our hearts back to him by a revelation of his grace and love.   

The threatenings of the law that we read last week can restrain our sin, but real change of heart comes from discovering that you are loved with this everlasting love.  It’s his kindness that leads us to repentance.  And so if the Lord is impressing upon you this morning the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of Christ, you need to respond to Him.  You need to respond to Him with repentance, and with singing, with passionate devotion.  Let us press on to know Him, and let us love Him, for he has first loved us. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 9, 2007 11:27 am

    This is very beautiful, and it has done me much good. Thank you.

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