“Promise of a New Covenant” Sunday School Lesson Summary and Activities, Jeremiah 31:27-34

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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word.  Here at “Word For Life Says,” I want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons and my personal summary notes that I use when teaching. May God bless you!

“Promise of a New Covenant”

Jeremiah 31:27-34

PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy!  Blessings.

Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2013 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. I am glad you like to read my personal summary notes that I use when teaching, but as always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well.  Blessings!)

Introduction:

While they were in captivity, Jeremiah spoke those famous words of encouragement: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Although the time of their captivity would be harsh, God directed their attention forward into their future where there is hope according to His holy covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).

But, this covenant God speaks of in our lesson today will go beyond the allotted time of seventy years given for their punishment of captivity.  God has a greater time of restoration for His people than just returning to their land and rebuilding houses, walls, and the like.  God’s whole remedy and promise for them is a rebuilding of hearts that can only come about through a new covenant.

Jeremiah 31:27-28 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.  And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord.”

This new covenant which was the focus of this prophecy was still yet to “come.”  The reference is future related.  As with most Old Testament prophesies, there is a time of fulfillment near to their current timeline, and then there is a greater fulfillment further in the future to come.

With the promise opening up in Jeremiah 30:1-3 of their return from captivity as one people again, with the division between “Israel and Judah” gone and the people united, the story also takes on a future-forward tone beyond the return from Babylonian captivity that points to the last days.

After telling them of the troubled times that lay up ahead; times when not only their physical captivity brought sorrow and despair, but of a time even further in their future where it is described as “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), a time so horrible in nature that it is compared by most of that foretold future time of the tribulation (see Matthew 24); He promised there will be a time in their future where there will emerge a new promise to hold on to; a day that will not only revive the nation physically but spiritually as well.  “For I will restore health to unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after,” (Jeremiah 30:17).

Yet, God does seek after His people.  His promise was, “I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces…” (Jeremiah 30:18).

As we see in our lesson text, God was going to do a complete turnabout in the nature of what they have previously experienced.  Every area of their lives was going to experience restoration.  Wherever they suffered lack, abundance would spring forth in the form of the “seed of man, and with the seed of beast.”  Through their captivity, they would have experienced destruction.  They would have witnessed death amongst family and friends.  Loss of possessions, land, livestock, and everything that supported their livelihood disintegrated before them as they were led away in chains to a life of bondage.  In that coming day, the tragedy they experience would have depleted them of all and left them empty and destitute, fighting for their lives.

But, as God has “watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict,” He says, “so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant.”  God never appeases sin, willfulness, or out and out rebellion against His authority.  Earlier in Jeremiah it is written, “I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without inhabitant” (Jeremiah 9:11), all because “they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein,” (Jeremiah 9:13).  He will let, and even orchestrate the consequences of one’s wrongs to be fulfilled to its fullest.  He will make sure that the prescribed punishment or adverse actions that were allotted to be carried out are in fact executed.  Judah would follow the same course Israel experienced in being taken captive.  Years before, Israel (the ten northern tribes) fell before the Assyrian kings, but Judah would fall before Nebuchadnezzar.  Although they saw their sister fall into the hands of enemies due to their sin, it didn’t change their mind or behavior, and they “played the harlot also,” (Jeremiah 3:8, read 3:6-10).  Thus, their captivity/punishment would go forth “to afflict” them as they suffered the consequences of their actions.

At the same time, God’s mercy, grace, and love for His people will not allow for their total annihilation.  Every measure God has taken since the fall of man has been geared toward their total restoration once again.  Everything God does for His chosen people, despite their sins and shortcomings throughout their history is to lead them in whole, new and restored relationship with Him.  God wants to rebuild His people from the inside out.  Thus, He will “watch over them to build, and to plant.”  With God doing the watching, it will surely come to pass.  God was going to be with them through the restoring process.  They are still His people and He is still in a covenant relationship with them.

Jeremiah 31:29-30 “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.  But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” 

“No more” will the people try to pass the blame on why they are going through or experiencing punishment they were due to someone else’s sin.  “No more” will they use the saying, “the fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (compare Lamentations 5:7 and Ezekiel 18:2-4), saying the fathers have done wrong and now the children of feeling the effects of it.  While it may be true to some extent that the actions of others can have a ripple effect and spread to other’s lives, it did not exonerate the people from accepting their own personal responsibility and turning themselves to God with a repentant heart.  God is basically saying it won’t work here; this cannot be applied.  They are the ones who have sinned, therefore, “every one shall die for his own iniquity.”  The accountability and responsibility of each person’s sins are theirs to own up to.  No more excuses are the message He was trying to make loud and clear to them. No more finger pointing. No more blame shifting.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month” (Quote Source: BrainyQuote).  That is because more likely than not, the troubles we face have been from some choices we have made along the way and are now suffering the consequences of those choices.

One will not be punished because of the sins of another. Rather, “Every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”  He only that sinned will be punished and feel the effects of it.  Just as many people will testify that salvation is personal. Sin, too, is personal (compare to Duet. 24:16).

“In those days” there will be no need for such a proverb.  The revelation of that time to come will usher in a period of changed hearts embedded with a new covenant and a repentant nature.

Jeremiah 31:31-32 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.” 

“Behold, the days come” are the words once again before us pointing to that future hope and expectation as noted earlier regarding the last days.

“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.”  Hebrews 8:8-12 mimics the wording of Jeremiah almost identically pointing to the fulfillment of this “new covenant” being secured through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 The old covenant that He established with his people was not working.  The people were rightly accused of breaking it.  Though God was in a committed relationship with them, holding true to His side of the covenant, described as being a devoted “husband;” the people broke away from His covering by seeking after others.

The “new” that God was going to do would not resemble the same as He established with their forefathers.  “New” did not mean recycle or upcycle to God.  New meant new.  A new way of doing things.  A new story to tell.  A new deliverance to grant to a lost and dying world.  New.

In Matthew 26:28 Jesus declares, “For this is the blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  This was the “new.”  Previously one’s atonement depended on the blood of animals.  Every year, over and over again, the ritual had to be repeated.  Hebrews 10:3 shows us this process: “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”  And, Hebrews 10:4 then goes on to tell us, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”  At His death, Jesus Christ fulfilled once and for all the requirements of those sacrifices and became the Author of that new covenant.

In these verses, God also describes His loving, nurturing nature as a Father guiding His children.  Previously, He took “them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.”  It renders the idea of a one teaching a child to cross the street.  Lovingly, with hand in hand, you guide them to look this way and that to make sure they can proceed safely.  They were in God’s hands and out of the hands of the enemy.  Even Exodus 3:8 declares, “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians;” and yet, for all that, the people quickly went astray after wickedness because they needed a heart transformation, not just a physical deliverance.

Now, it was time for the new.

Jeremiah 31:33 “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

God was still, despite the mess-ups of the people, seeking a deeply devoted relationship with them and with us.  The new covenant would operate much differently than the old.  The old was written and inscribed on tablets of stone, but the new will affect the inner man.  It will transform him/her from the inside out because it is not contingent on being written anywhere other than one’s own heart.

That’s deep, and deep is what God was going for.  The passion for Him has to be a deep devotion of the inner man.  That’s why Ezekiel also prophesied something similar when he said, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 36:26).

God was going for a heart transformation.  David knew the importance of this when he cried out in desperation from his own sin, saying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10).  A heart that is devoted to God; a heart that is renewed in Him; a heart that cradles and nurtures His Word and has His Spirit within him or her is the heart of those who “shall be my people,” (see also Psalms 37:31; 119:11), and He will be their “God.” 

Jeremiah 31:34 “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This is a picture of God’s new covenant in full effect.  First of all, those who are partakers of this covenant they have entered into a personal relationship with God to know Him for themselves (compare Hebrews 8:11).  Hosea 6:6 tells us that this is what God seeks after: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”  God wants people to “know” Him intimately and personally, from the heart.

Jesus reiterated this by saying, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:3).

In knowing God one has to possess a heart that is intimately concerned about Him and His will.

Secondly, under God’s new covenant, the partakers’ sins would be remembered no more.  Oh, where to begin with the magnitude of grace these few words cover?  There really is no other way than through the word itself; one of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament (though there be many, many more):

  • Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
  • Romans 11:27, “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

The whole idea behind the new covenant is to restore.  Restoration will wholly take place when people are made new.  People are made new when they enter into a new relationship with God.  When they do that, God forgives their sins.  It’s the message of the Bible; it the message centered in the Gospels; it’s the message carried through to Jesus Christ on the cross, the testator of the New Testament; the new covenant (see Hebrews 9:14-22), and it’s the message that God has for His chosen people in that coming day.

In Jeremiah 31:35-37 (read, not in today’s printed lesson text) states that the same, one and only true God, who ordered all aspects of creation is the same One who can be relied on to follow through with His promise of restoration of His people through this covenant.  The same God who arranged all these things to be, if one of those “ordinances” shall break forth from their God-ordained assignments, “then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.”  In other words, it will never happen!  God has a promise for His people that will stand forever.  The culmination of that promise is for His people and those who would believe to be ultimately fulfilled and restored back to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Conclusion:

God’s people, the house of Israel and the house of Judah (as noted in the lesson), have known a time of suffering throughout their history.  In that coming day, any conflicts and troubles they have faced in the past or present will all take a back seat to a glorious hope for those who find themselves as partakers of the new covenant established through our Lord Jesus Christ.  God will have a redeemed remnant of believers of His chosen people through this new covenant.

All who submit to God’s offering of this covenant, not only those of Israel, which is made through Jesus Christ, will find true restoration and newness for their souls.

Standard Print PDF: Promise of a New Covenant Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print

Large Print PDF: Promise of a New Covenant Sunday School Lesson Summary Large Print

Below are activities to support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

Word Search: Promise of a New Covenant Word Search  Answers: Promise of a New Covenant Word Search Answers

Crossword: Promise of a New Covenant Crossword  Answers: Promise of a New Covenant Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Promise of a New Covenant Word Scramble  Answers: Promise of a New Covenant Word Scramble Answers

Activity Sheet: Promise of a New Covenant Activity Sheet

 

Memory Verse: Promise of a New Covenant Memory Verse

Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

“Empty Hearts Object Lesson”

“Jeremiah Prophesied a New Covenant”

“New Covenant Heart” (Scroll down to day 18 for a craft idea.  Enjoy!)

“Jeremiah Children’s Sermon”

“Jeremiah 31:3 Cryptogram Puzzle”

“Heart Laced Bookmark” (Can someone say, “Easy!”  Yes, this is.  Simply print out onto cardstock, have students decorate with a verse from today’s lesson and lace it up with yarn or ribbon.  What a nice reminder for them to take home and use. Enjoy!)

“Grape Stomp Game” (Although not originally for this lesson I love the idea of making grapes out of purple balloons and stomping them.  For us it means no more excuses.  Enjoy!)

“Grapes Crafts and Activities” (Easily incorporate into today’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

The Big Idea: Jeremiah” (Here is a very informative power point presentation that’s great for older students and adults.  Select open or save when prompted at the bottom of your screen. Enjoy!)

“Hiding God’s Stories: Memory Verse Activity”

“Hide a Verse Puzzle” (Love this idea!  It’s like a game and memory verse all in one.  Enjoy!)

“Heart Craft for Sunday School” (This, or really any, heart craft can be used for today’s lesson.  Just attach a matching verse and your lesson is complete.  Enjoy!)

“Heart Laced Bookmark” (Can someone say, “Easy!”  Yes, this is.  Simply print out onto cardstock, have students decorate with a verse from today’s lesson and lace it up with yarn or ribbon.  What a nice reminder for them to take home and use. Enjoy!)

 

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