Jeremiah36: 1-8, 21-23, 27-28 and 31:27-34
Jeremiah is a prophet that doesn’t seem to get anywhere with his prophesying career. He’s had forty years of misery, of being laughed at, abused, ignored, even placed in the town stocks. He’s not exactly your ideal role model if you want to get into prophecy.
But he does have some significant insight if you want to place yourself outside the lines of ‘normality’ and ‘tradition’. No one pays attention to him or he’s just a weeping sore because everyone still hankers after God in the traditional sense: you know where God is to be found - in the temple. But there isn’t one any more, yet still that’s where God ought to be found. You can see there is some popular psychosis going on, no one believing things have changed, no one seeing where the error of their theology is.
So Jeremiah keeps prophesying and the people keep not getting it.
Finally Jeremiah is given a word from the Lord (who by this time is feeling a lot like Jeremiah and really fed up with folk who are not getting with the programme). ‘Okay, okay,’ says God. ‘See all your longing for things to be as they always were? Well, they aren’t, and they’re never going to be, so much so, I’m even going to change the covenant I have with you. Up to know it has been immovable: the ten commandments. Now I’m rewriting it, not so much what it says, but where I say it: not on a fixed bit of stone, or an immovable temple, but on your hearts so that whenever you end up (and you have no idea just how far you are going to end up - Jerusalem’s days are numbered and you’ll find yourselves 1000 miles away in Babylon) you’ll have me with you always. I’m no longer going to be a mindset of values and rules and rituals and traditions. I’m going to be a heartset.
But even that wayward as good news to Jeremiah’s people, until they ended up in Babylon just at the prophet said and found God anew in a strange land and in such a place they began writing their experiences of this heartset of God and what we read today as the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures, are those very experiences.