Text: Jeremiah 31: 31-34
This text is a very important theological tool. Jeremy tells of the promise he received from God about renewing the covenant with His people. Why has God decided to renew the covenant? How did God fulfill this promise?
I think we should start with Abram. God called Abram from his father’s home to go to a land which He would show him. He also promised to bless his descendants and make them a great nation (Gen. 12:1-3).
God kept His promise. After the people of Israel lived as slaves in Egypt, God set them free through Moses and led them for almost 40 years through the desert to the Promised Land. On their way God gave them ten commandments on Mount Sinai to regulate their relationship with Him (Ex. 20:1-17). This event is considered the milestone of the covenant that God made with the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Although the covenant was God’s initiative, the people of Israel also had a role to play to keep it.
Jeremy shows us an unexpected picture; the people of Israel failed to keep their covenant with God. Their failure to meet the covenant is a dominant issue throughout the Old Testament. The prophets, including Jeremy, often prophesied about this, but unfortunately the people of Israel could not remain faithful to God.
As God is not limited, He said He would establish a new covenant with the people of Israel with different parameters. Jeremy provides details of the foundations of this new covenant (See Jer. 31:31-34).
Jeremiah’s prophecy is expanded and clarified in the New Testament. We come to know that the precious blood of Jesus Christ is the milestone of the new covenant and Christ alone is its mediator (Mat. 26:27-28; I Cor. 11:25; Heb. 9:15; 12:24). The new covenant embraces the whole human family, since Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind (Ephesians 2:11-19). This covenant is eternal, unlike the former which was temporary.
What does this have to do with HIV? The failure of the people of Israel to remain faithful to the covenant they established with God could maybe be related to the behaviour of some who neglect or are unable to follow preventive measures against HIV; although they know that they are at risk. Those of us working in the HIV field might feel frustrated because our advice is not followed. Although we are rightly proud of the UNAIDS findings which show progress in terms of reduction of new infections in HIV across the world in the last year, we all agree that we haven’t yet reached the goal of “zero infection”.
In the Old Testament men and women failed to comply with the covenant they set with God but God did not fail. He did not abandon His people; instead He shaped and implemented a new eternal covenant. God’s attitude here should guide our behaviour in teaching people about HIV prevention. As God’s Ambassadors in the HIV epidemic, we should not abandon His people, but continue even when we find that our advice is not being respected, we should not retreat but revise our strategies and carry on with our work