Food for Thought-God Wants Less Religion – A Look at Jeremiah 31:27-34

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In Jeremiah 31, scripture says the Lord will “remember our sins no more”. That’s good, that’s certainly a comforting statement to hear. Early on in the passage, the Lord says all shall “die” for their sins. Parents, who have eaten sour grapes and their children (whose teeth have been set on “edge”), will die. In fact, everyone whose teeth are “on edge”, regardless of their dietary habits will die. However, there seems to be a clear break between who’s dying for their teeth/grape sins in verse 30 and the events surrounding the new covenant the Lord is making in verses 31-34.

In other words, the “death for sins” doesn’t seem to be related to the new thing God is proposing to do with this new covenant. No one appears, at face value to have to die, for the new covenant to be implemented. Secondly, there’s nothing redemptive about the sour grape eating people dying. Their death is not for some higher purpose; so that someone else might live. They are simply dying at the hands of a vengeful Old Testament God. The new covenant and all of the blessings which go along with this new arrangement (no one needing to teach others, people innately knowing the Lord’s will), will occur not as a result of someone or anyone having died at all. In this instance, God is saving people because this is what God wants to do.

There is no quid pro quo for salvation. In fact, God says he wants less religion. In verse 33, Jeremiah writes, “No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.” “No longer shall they teach one another,” did you catch that? He means people like me would be out of a job. We would all have such an innate understanding of God’s teaching that preachers and churches wouldn’t be needed. What a liberated world that would be! Children and adults would come to the right moral and ethical understandings of how to live without the baggage of organized religion. This is what God is proposing in Jeremiah 31. The greatest part is that our sins, inequity, garbage, junk (whatever term you choose to use) will be forgiven without another person being tortured to death.

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