Day 170 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 7 – Jeremiah’s famous temple sermon most likely was given sometime after Josiah’s temple reforms in 621 b.c. (2 Kings 23). As far-reaching as these reforms were, after a book of the law was discovered in the temple, the results were apparently superficial and not long-lasting. Josiah’s successors were all evil and would not have helped maintain the reformation. The situation addressed here is rife with formalism, spiritual corruption, and injustice. The people’s life in the Promised Land is thus put at risk. These people were using the Lord’s name in vain. They claimed to be called by God’s name—claimed to “bear” it—while living godless lives.
This principle remains true for Believers who claim the name of Jesus. We are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). Called by His grace, we walk accordingly (Ephesians 5:1–2).
Spiritual deafness is a fearful thing. To hear God’s Word and obey is to be reassured of the gift of grace: “I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” Constant refusal to listen to God’s Word results in total deafness to the truth, as our hearts gradually harden. Indeed, this hardening of ears and hearts is, from the divine perspective, God’s very act of judgment (Isaiah 6:9–10; Amos 8:11–12). Jesus speaks only to those who are attuned to Him as the Word of God, while others cannot hear with the faith required truly to understand (Mark 4:11–12; John 10:24–26; 1 Corinthians 2:14).
Because of detestable idolatry, the land of fruitfulness and plenty, with the glory of Jerusalem showing the blessing of God, will be desecrated. The defilement of the dead bodies of kings, priests, prophets, and people is a reversal of all the covenant blessings anticipated through God’s promise (Genesis 12:1–3). Only the covenant curses remain in evidence (see Deuteronomy 28).
But desolation is not the end of the story. From the wider context of Jeremiah, we know that God yet has a plan for His people despite the desolation they will face—a plan that will result in their ultimate salvation. So it would be again as Jesus warned of the horrors to come on the temple and the land (Matthew 24:1–2; Mark 13:1–2). But, after suffering the curse of the covenant (Galatians 3:13), the true temple will be raised up (John 2:18–22). All the covenant curses came undone in the horrific cross of Jesus, so that these promises can now become reality for God’s people, despite our failures.
How does this truth lead you to worship Jesus?
Jeremiah 8 – Once again Jeremiah delivers a stinging indictment of the people for their hardness of heart. This time he focuses on the claims of wisdom. Under David and Solomon, the wisdom traditions and literature had flourished. But now these “wise men” have misled the people with false words of comfort. True wisdom is based on fear of (reverence for) the Lord (Proverbs 1:7), and without that vital foundation it becomes worldly cleverness that in God’s sight is foolishness. Solomon appears to have forgotten the fear of the Lord (1 Kings 11:1–8) as he plunged Judah into idolatry and faithlessness.
The fear of the Lord is supremely revealed in the New Testament as humble trust in Jesus, the true wise man of Israel (Matthew 7:24–29). For in the grace of the gospel, Jesus not only embodies wisdom but has become for us “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Jeremiah’s anguish and sorrow is not simply empathy with the suffering of his people that will come with the devastation of invasion. He is attuned to the covenant with both its promises of blessing and its curses of judgment on disobedience (Deuteronomy 28). All that the land, the city, the temple, and the kingship stood for is under threat. There is no healing ointment to apply to the wounds of the people. Their waywardness is beyond any self-generated recovery. God must provide what His people cannot provide for themselves, if they are to know His covenant blessings. This is clear from Jesus’ own day, as He would grieve over an unrepentant Jerusalem and the coming destruction of the temple because His people would not depend on God’s provision (Himself) for them (Matthew 23:37–24:2).
Do you grieve for those who are lost around you? How do you reflect Jesus to them?
Jeremiah 9 – Jeremiah asks who has the wisdom to understand this terrible reversal of fortune. The Lord’s answer is clear: under the Old Covenant if there is no covenant faithfulness, there will be no covenant blessings. The horror and shame of this situation is graphically portrayed. The tribulation described foreshadows a greater tribulation to come. The land, city, and temple will be destroyed by the Romans in future generations. But the greatest tribulation of God’s people will be experienced by a faithful Israelite who will suffer on behalf of His people and be put to death on a cross.
If you are in Jesus, your greatest tribulation—condemnation and hell—has been resolved. Indeed, you can see it, right there at the cross of Jesus. That cross was the final judgment and condemnation for everyone who looks in trusting faith to Jesus, abandoning their own moral resume and banking their pardoned future on Him.
Can a Believer boast? Clearly Jeremiah rejected the worldly boasting of the “wise” men, the rich, and the powerful. There is only one basis for boasting, and that is to boast in knowing Jesus. Even this might sound like pretentious pride. But in the context of God’s grace it is not a boasting in oneself but in the Lord. So Paul, without in any way condoning pride (Romans 3:27–28), quotes Jeremiah and encourages the Believers to boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30–31).
How can this be? It is because God provides our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—ultimately in Jesus. The boasting that Jeremiah urges as a consequence of one’s knowledge of the Lord (and not one’s own qualities) anticipates the gospel. Our union with Jesus by faith is the basis for any merit that we have before God, as what characterizes Jesus’ perfect humanity becomes ours—imputed to us by His grace. We have the confidence and comfort of knowing that our acceptance by God is perfect, since it is based on Jesus’ perfect acceptance by the Father (Romans 3:21–26; Ephesians 2:5–6). While this can seem hard to believe, it is true.
How does it feel to be seen as perfect because you are in Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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