Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 16:42-17:24; Hebrews 8:1-13; Psalm 106:13-31; Proverbs 27:7-9
I have been down this past week with a cold which meant that I missed going to church on Sunday. Instead I was stuck at home watching it online. In general we celebrate the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of each month. As this was the first Sunday, when the time came I gathered a slice of bread from the pantry and poured myself one little sip of red wine. I was going to just use the red grapes that I had in the fridge, but they had expired and were not fit for consumption. In a pinch I have in the past just smooshed some grapes to make my own grape juice, lol.
So there I sat, watching and participating from my own quiet place. When I took up my slice of bread I tore it in two rather than just breaking off a little bite and in that moment tears started to fill my eyes. Jesus body was broken for me and there was something in my action of tearing that bread that just made it seem so real. I thought back to my reading from Ezekiel that morning. I was really struck by the way God describes Israel in Ezekiel 16:1-41. In those verses God paints the picture of a poor, abandoned, abused child whom He rescues and breathes life into. Then when she comes of age, God takes her as His precious bride and adorns her with riches, jewels and a crown. And how does Israel respond? Adultery with everyone around her. It’s a really striking, heartbreaking picture. Israel broke its covenant with God in such a dreadful way that even the Philistines are appalled by her behavior. Even Sodom was not as evil. That is a really awful statement. And so God is done with them and is about to destroy them in ways that are just hard to imagine.
And as I broke that bread yesterday morning, my own unfaithfulness to God hit me hard. All of those things that take priority in my life, how are they any different from Israel’s adultery? And as I sat there in those moments I cried out for forgiveness through my tears.
Then we took the cup. And as I waited and stared into my glass of red wine I looked into its redness, much like blood, and I thought about the blood of Christ that was poured out for me. For ME. The blood of the New Covenant. And again the tears flowed in thankfulness to Jesus for what He endured on my behalf. In gratefulness that this new covenant does not depend on my actions. Christ Jesus is the only one it depends upon. My sin, o the bliss of this glorious thought, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the LORD O my soul! (from the hymn It is Well)
This morning in Hebrews I read of that new covenant, the new covenant that God speaks of in the Old Testament in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says,
“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
When I will effect a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
On the day when I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
And I did not care for them, says the Lord.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
“And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
“For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:7-12)
And in the previous verse it states, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises” Jesus is the mediator and obtainer of this more excellent covenant. And I wonder if perhaps I need to be reminded of this on a much more frequent basis than just a once a month gathering for the Lord’s Supper. What if I start my meals with a moment of specific remembrance, however that may look. I certainly don’t think I need to start every meal by breaking bread and having a sip of wine, or do I? “As often as you do this remember Me” Jesus says. Yesterday I felt that I do not remember this deeply often enough.
I had to acknowledge a lot of stuff in my life yesterday that did not look good. But I rest in the sure knowledge of God’s amazing grace and am thankful for His mysterious ways in my life, for it just so happened that I had a cold that kept me home on a day when His words in Ezekiel would hit me hard and then it just so happened that I was alone with Him when I needed to be for this time of sweet communion. All of the things that hit me yesterday would not have happened with crackers and juice in a crowded room.
May grace, peace, and mercy abound,