In today’s reading poor Jeremiah continues to wrestle with his situation. He is loyal to the LORD, yet he also is broken-hearted over the nation, because such terrible things are going to be happening to them. Though we may certainly be tempted to tire of Jeremiah’s message of judgment and destruction, we still need to read carefully and reflectively, because every generation is tempted to stray from the LORD. Do you see this generation in these passages? Do we see ourselves?
Jeremiah 16:1, 2 “The word of the LORD also came to me saying, “You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.”” — On the surface of it, God’s command to Jeremiah sounds too hard — no wife, no children, no family. What loneliness and heartache and emptiness! But the context tell us why — would you rather watch your wife and children starve or get butchered by the invaders? Sometimes we don’t understand God’s obvious will for our lives; some things just seem so unfair. Others enjoy a happier existence, enjoy the things we’d like — things that are not wrong to want or have; things that are normal and natural; things our hearts may ache for. But keeping in mind that God may have a very, very good reason. Doubtlessly Jeremiah’s arms still ached for a family, but knowing that God had his best interests at heart was surely some consolation and great encouragement.
Jeremiah 17:1 “The sin of Judah is written down with an iron stylus; With a diamond point it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart And on the horns of their altars,” — Was Judah deep into sin? Oh yeah, as if an iron stylus had chiseled it into their stony hearts. This was slavery, addiction, pride, and self-will. Hard-heartedness is spiritually fatal, and self-inflicted.
Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise.” — Doctors may find drugs and therapies and surgeries to correct a lot of stuff, but to be really healed, God is the real answer. Armies may have great weapons of war and defense, but to be really saved, God is the real answer. Psychological therapists may have a lot of good things to say, but the real answers to our most basic problems of mind and heart, of body and spirit, of individual and society is the LORD. If the LORD heals you, you are healed indeed!
Jeremiah 18:6 ““Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.” — The larger context of this verse has a huge impact on a lot of things — I would have quoted the whole thing, but didn’t want to quote half a chapter. The essence of it is that many of God’s promises (or prophecies) are CONDITIONAL. He says that He could prophecy and intend good for a nation (like Israel) but be caused to change His mind, because of their sinful disobedience. Conversely, He could prophecy and promise judgment and destruction for a nation and change His mind, if they repented. This answers many of the very serious questions that some have about what seem to be unfulfilled promises that God has made — about Israel, Aaron’s family and the high-priesthood, and others. God’s promises are conditional. This puts a nail in the Calvinistic doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved”. It also is sobering to Christians who live their lives carelessly, thinking that they are under grace and “untouchable” by God’s condemnation. Israel was mistakenly thinking that they were untouchable, because they were Israel, God’s people; but in this passage God informs them otherwise. Let us be careful not to make this mistake.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.