18 June 2016

Stone 23 - Jeremiah

Jeremiah was another prophet from the days of Kings. Let's see what he had to say.

God's Perfect Plan
We can see right away from the first chapter that God has plans that extend far into the future. Jeremiah was chosen before he was even born (Jer 1:5). But note verse six... "But I protested, "Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don't know how to speak since I am only a youth."

Isn't this true of us today? How often does God call upon us to do His work and we protest or in many cases simply ignore or refuse altogether? Think back to Exodus 3 when Moses was constantly voicing objections claiming a lack of abilities. Consider Judges 6 when Gideon was called and claimed his weaknesses in objection to God's call.

God knows the best choices for carrying out his work. Listen up! Whatever deficiencies we think we may have - God will make up the difference.

Jeremiah has a couple of visions - one of which is of a boiling pot that tips its contents out to the south (Jer 1:13). God explains that judgments will come against Israel from the North.

The nation of Israel, however, walked away from God and He calls them on it (Jer 2:5). Unfortunately for the Israelites, this has less than enjoyable consequences (Jer 2:19).

**But we are all sinners, aren't we...? Just as the nation of Israel deserved judgment, so do we. Do not forget Proverbs 14:12... "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." Do we not all think we are doing what is right? Do we not try to justify those things we know are not...? Follow the Lord!

Jeremiah uses a marriage kind of imagery between God and Israel and calls out Israel as being unfaithful. God, however, still loves us unconditionally and offers hope, salvation, forgiveness of sins, and everlasting life. Israel must repent and return to the Lord and we must do the same. We must sincerely repent - turn and run from sin - and seek the Lord (Jer 4:1-2).

Failure to repent and abide in the Lord results in divine, just, judgment. Jer 4:14 is a great plea! Why do we persist in doing that which is evil? Jer 5:12 seems to have an answer to this. "They have contradicted the Lord and insisted, "It won't happen. Harm won't come to us; we won't see sword or famine." Oh my... how often have we felt that way...? Nah, that won't happen to me! I have it under control...

Nay - the judgment comes

Jer 5:21 - Wake up!

So stubborn! Jer 6:16 - Take the path to good!

If you disobey - you get what is coming to you - punishment. Jer 6:19
That is what one gets for not listening...

Jer 7:3-11 shares a little insight to the hearts of the people of Israel and it makes me think of Matthew 7:21-23. The people are going to the temple to worship the Lord and then leave the temple and worship other, false gods. Matthew, I think, hints at these types of people that stand before the throne and cry out "Lord, Lord, but didn't we..." Instead we have Jer 7:23-24.

Abundant Wickedness
Jeremiah asks a common question even to this day in chapter 12 verse 1. Doesn't it seem that way sometimes? We would do well to remember that while the wicked appear to prosper in this life...
1. Perhaps we do not fully understand as God does
2. Time in this life is extremely short compared to the eternal timeline.
3. How are we defining a prosperous life? By what standard is success to be measured?

So here we have several chapters of how Israel was a wicked and disobedient nation that rejected the Lord. The punishment is exile from the land of 'milk and honey' to which they were originally delivered. They will be slaves to the Babylonians for 70 years (Jer 25:11).

In chapter 18 verses 1 through 12 we have a parable about the potter and his clay. The illustration is one of a jar being molded that becomes flawed and is remade. God is the same for us as the potter is to his clay. God lets Israel know, as it were, that they can be rebuilt if only they would turn from their evil ways.

Jeremiah has pretty much been running around sharing all of this news about them being evil and the coming destruction because of it to all the people. My guess is that they probably didn't like hearing that message (Jer 18:18, 20:1-2, 26:7-11). Does this not also hold true today? When the opposition does not like what you are saying, even if it is truth - they try to silence you... such a shame.

Remember the hope...
This brings us to Jeremiah 29:11. This is a very popular and oft quoted verse. "For I know the plans that I have for you... plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." This is a great sounding verse but the context is about Israel and what happens after the 70 years of exile. God intends to confirm his promise - remember from the beginning... God has plans that extend far into the future. In this verse Jeremiah is writing to the exiles about what God says. The message is really nothing new. Think bigger picture. God's plan is really for us to be in relationship with Him, not for his benefit but for ours - that we might have everlasting life. God had planned long ago for Jesus to come and be a final sacrifice for the sins of all people.

Ultimately, we must listen to God and obey His command. We should submit to His will for us. Does He have a plan - yup - but we have a choice. His plan is not a predetermined path we have no choice but to follow.

There is hope - we have hope in the Lord - as New Testament Christians - we have hope in Jesus Christ who died on the cross bearing all of our sin so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. He speaks of a new covenant that is unlike the old one (Jer 31:31-34).

Verse 33 refers to the law being written on our hearts. Deep down, we have a built-in sense of what is right and what is wrong. We are quick to point it out in others and justify it within ourselves because we also have a built-in sin nature that we must fight against daily.

Message of the Prophets
Are not these messages similar? While specific events may be different for each of the nations one may prophesy over - the overall message is the same... Repent of your evil ways - follow the Lord and you will be blessed. Failure to do so will result in judgment. Time and time again this message is rejected. Even to this day.

I think the message is still valid.

Please enjoy the video from Join the Bible Project regarding Jeremiah.

Until next time,
In Christ

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