By Robert Halsey Pine
“This is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not 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. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:1-13).
In speaking of “a new co-venant,” God has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear. When we truly turn our lives over to God, we get a new chance. What a wonderful blessing just waiting for us to take advantage of it. How merciful.
Years ago, I was in a state prison with a prison ministry group for a monthly reunion with several HIV-positive inmates. These particular prisoners were isolated from the rest of the inmates because they had tested positive for the AIDS virus. As we came together to start our meeting, the room was full of joy. We hugged and greeted each other, sang songs, and then settled down for an evening of sharing how the Lord has been working in our lives.
There, in the midst of what would otherwise be thought of as a negative environment, the love of the Lord abounded. Who in society even cares about these people? Many of their families have deserted them. Their futures are less than promising. Death surrounds them as their partners in isolation get sick and die. What is their hope?
Their hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who says, “…for they shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” The smiles, the songs sung, and the stories shared that evening all point to this one thing – we are forgiven and our lives can be redeemed.
As I looked at the faces of those inmates that night, I saw that they have found hope where there is little hope and I saw Christ’s power and love. The experience put my own life in perspective, and my little worries seemed as nothing.
I give thanks to Almighty God for his blessings that were showcased that evening. It was a reminder for me of the ultimate sacrifice that He made of His Son for our sins. Thanks be to God.
Robert Halsey Pine is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the Un-iversity of the South.