God’s commands. In fact, they broke their covenant with God—over and over again. “You shall have no other gods.” Broken. “Honor your father and moth-er.” Broken. “Do not commit adultery.” Broken. “Do not steal.” Broken. I hope you realize that what might sound simple—keeping God’s commands—is impossible for us! They ran off after other gods. They wanted to be like everybody else more than they wanted to fol-low God. They broke their covenant.
So God kept his promise. What was God’s promise? He said, “If you obey, I will bless you. If you disobey, I will destroy you.” God kept his promise. He raised up the Baby-lonians who destroyed the whole country of Judah and surrounded the city of Jerusalem. The famine got so bad that parents were tempted to eat their own children. That’s the set-ting the prophet Jeremiah got to serve in. Great, huh? You know what he told them? “You are not going to win. You are going to be taken captives. Don’t even bother fighting. God is against you because of your sins.” Think that was a popular message? The people still did-n’t listen. Sin is so stubborn. Sin is so powerful.
If you were God, what would you do? I’d pull a Minnesota Vikings. Just get rid of all the quarterbacks and bring in somebody new! Start over. Not God. He offered his sinful people a new contract. A new covenant. Listen again: “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Did you catch what two words God said again and again? “I will.” “I will make a new covenant.” “I will put my law in their minds.” “I will be their God.” “I will forgive.” “I will re-member their sins no more.” I will. I will… God’s new covenant is unlike any other contract in the history of the world: It’s one-sided. It’s not, “If you…, then I…” No! It’s “I will. I will. I will.” That’s grace. All God. All grace! Can you imagine this happening at your job? Your boss calls you in and says, “I’ll like to offer you a new contract. How about this: You do nothing, and I’ll pay you an exorbitant amount, because I love you and care about you so much.” How’s that sound?
That’s not the way contracts are supposed to work, but this is God’s covenant with you. “This is what I’m offering you,” God says. “I will be your God and love you and forgive you. Period.” That’s the covenant! God really wants you to understand this! Your relation-ship with God is not based in any way on your performance. On your achievements. On your family history. On your appearance. It’s based completely on God’s grace from begin-ning to end. “I will. I will.”
After saying all that, it still feels like now I should tell you what you need to do. Now would be the perfect time for an altar call, right? “Open up your heart and let God in! Here’s what you need to do—trust and believe and act…!” But that’s not what God says. None of that is in our text. God wants to overwhelm you with his grace. We talk about grace, but often we don’t get it. Even as Christians, we put the pressure back on ourselves. “I’ve gotta believe. I’ve gotta trust. I’ve gotta do this…” You’ve felt that pressure! But it’s not about you. Grace means it’s all God! Even the good things we do isn’t really us. God puts them into our minds and hearts. “I will. Period!” Soak in God’s grace!
Two weeks ago, North Carolina played Duke in college basketball. Two top-ten teams. Probably the biggest rivalry in college sports. Duke was playing at home, but North Carolina had the early lead. They were up by 10 at halftime. Suddenly, Duke came storming back. They outscored North Carolina by 20 points in the second half and won by 10. What a turnaround! What happened? After the game, Coach K from Duke was asked, “What did you tell your team at half?” Know what he told them? “Take the pianos off your backs. Quit playing with all the pressure in the world. Just play. Our guys took the piano off their back and played basketball.”
That’s what God has done for you: Taken the piano off your back. If we had to earn God’s love, if forgiveness depended on us, that would be like a giant piano on your back. But it doesn’t depend on you! It depends on grace! God took the piano off your back. Men: The world tells you that you must always be in control, always be tough, never need help, always be achieving great things. But that’s not being a man. That’s a piano on your back! You can feel the pressure, right? Women: The world