Day 172 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 14 – The drought highlights the theme of exile in the wilderness. The people had inherited a land flowing with milk and honey. This was a fruitful land that, however imperfectly, echoed the fertility of the garden of Eden (Exodus 3:7–8; Deuteronomy 28:1–14). The Promised Land foreshadowed the new creation of the messianic age (Isaiah 11:1–9; 35:1–7; 65:17–25; Ezekiel 36:33–38; 47:1–12). This significant theme of Eden is countered by the present experience of drought.
This fall of creation reflects the sinful fall of humanity. Here it shows up in the dreadful condition of those who should be enjoying the land’s plenty but who come under this fearful judgment. When the plea is made that “we are called by your name; do not leave us”, the Lord’s response is not only to cite their sin but to withdraw the prophetic intercession.
Wilderness themes in Scripture often reflect struggle with sin and temptation. Israel wandered in the wilderness after turning back from the Promised Land. John the Baptist went into the wilderness to call Israel to repentance. Jesus went into the wilderness to overcome the Devil’s temptations and to provide for His people deliverance from the exile of sin and death. But in Jesus you can know that whatever wilderness experience you undergo, it cannot now be to punish you but only to prune you (John 15:2). For Jesus went through the ultimate wilderness in being rejected by men and conquering the penalty of sin on the cross, on our behalf.
Lying or deluded prophets are a continual problem for God’s people. When Judah was under the Babylonian threat, such prophets claimed that peace would reign. A prophet not sent by God is both deceived and a liar. This problem has always existed (Deuteronomy 18:20–22). Jesus warned that even the church is not immune in these last days (Matthew 24:11). Christian history bears witness to many who claim to know the day of the Lord’s return or to be prophets of a modern religion more suited to our day and age. All claims to prophecy should be tested against God’s Word.
If you’re in a wilderness time, how will you remember that this is only a pruning and not a punishment?
Jeremiah 15 – Prophetic intercession, beginning with Moses, became an institution in Israel. Moses interceded for the people after the provocation of Aaron’s golden calf, as well as on other occasions when the people had sinned (Exodus 33:12–17; Numbers 11:2; 21:7; Deuteronomy 9:25–29). Samuel interceded for the people in times of peril (1 Samuel 7:5, 8; 12:19, 23). Now the provocation has become so great that God declares that even the intercession of Moses and Samuel would not have been able to avert disaster.
Today, we live in the glad knowledge that the ultimate prophet and priest of God, Jesus Christ, has come. He now intercedes at God’s right hand with total efficacy for his people (John 17:1–26; Romans 8:31–34; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:25). It is this divine intercession that assures those who are in Jesus that their prayers are heard.
Jeremiah identifies a particular false shepherd, a descendant of David and thus one from the messianic dynasty: Manasseh, who installed pagan altars in the temple of God (2 Kings 21:1–18). He was so evil that even the reforms of Josiah could not avert the wrath of the Lord because of him (2 Kings 23:26–27; 24:1–3). Only the Good Shepherd is able truly to feed the flock and to keep them in eternal life (John 10:7–18, 26–30).
Jeremiah bares the agony of his soul as he must stand against the whole nation in his prophetic condemnation of sin. His lament is like Job’s in his suffering (Job 3:1–16). The ambivalence Jeremiah feels comes from the persecution his message invites. Yet at the same time he knows that he is being reproached for God’s sake. Like Ezekiel, he found that God’s word is for the faithful servant a joy (Ezekiel 3:1–3). Those who have tasted to see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8; 1 Peter 2:1–3) may still have to face the loneliness and bitterness of persecution for Jesus’ sake (Romans 8:35–39). Jeremiah appears to be flagging in his zeal for God because of his bitter message, and he too needs to turn again in repentance to the Lord. Thus he will find strength and deliverance.
There is no perfection for the Believer this side of our resurrection. But walking with Jesus, the friend of sinners, is a salve that gets down underneath even the painful sting of rejection by other people. He is enough.
How do you remember that Jesus is always with you and He is enough?
Jeremiah 16 – Describing the judgment coming on Judah, God says that He will silence the joyful noises that erupt from the bridegroom and the bride and their wedding celebration. This is the most joyful event in human culture and was given to us by God as a glimpse of the ultimate relationship, not with another human but with God Himself (Ephesians 5:31–32). Throughout the Bible, God is the great lover and wooer of His people, His bride. The stilling of the joyfulness of weddings signifies the great sadness to befall the nation for their sin.
Because of the depth and intimacy of the marriage relationship, and the sense of loss and betrayal when such a covenant is abused or abandoned, spiritual truths are often tied to marriage themes. But as important as is that theme, even more so is the message of God’s faithfulness communicated by the analogy. Despite our consistent faithlessness to our covenant Lord, God does not divorce us. He does not abandon us. He proves this in our own space-and-time history in the coming of Jesus, the great bridegroom of His people (John 3:29;Ephesians 5:23–32; Revelation 19:7–9). For Jesus, beyond anyone else, experienced the misery of Jeremiah 16:9. On the cross Jesus makes possible that in the new earth God’s people, his beautified “bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2), will truly forever rejoice in “the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness.”
Jeremiah sees the definitive redemptive experience in Israel’s past, the exodus from Egypt, as foreshadowing a second exodus. This second exodus would be from the north country, Babylon. Described prominently in Isaiah and Ezekiel and in some of the Minor Prophets, this second exodus will also prove to be merely another shadow of the ultimate redemptive act of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:7; 10:1–4).
Israel’s life of faith was focused on what God had done in redeeming His people. For the Believer, the main focus must always be on the work of God for us in Jesus. For us, the gospel is an event in the past, accomplished by the person and work of Jesus. Before restoration can be experienced, sin must be judged. The resurrection life of the Believer comes only because the wrath of God is poured out upon our sins at the cross of Jesus.
When sin is judged and God’s people restored, then the nations shall come and find their blessing in God. The ingathering of the nations according to the promises to Abraham is an event of the end times, which began with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 1:14–15; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 John 2:18).
How does this truth lead you to worship Jesus today and look forward to the future?
Jeremiah 17 – Again the prophet contrasts the life of sin and the life of faith. The desert imagery picks up on the wider theme of the first Adam’s exile from the garden of Eden. The return from exile will be truly achieved only when the last Adam (Jesus) has gone into the wilderness and returns triumphant over death and the Devil. In this way He redeems His sheep that are lost in the wilderness (Romans 5:12–17; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45). Such are those who trust the Lord. They experience the sustenance of a watered place (Psalm 1:1–3; Ezekiel 47:12). In the fullness of time, Jesus would use the imagery of water to indicate the life given by the Spirit of God to all who believe in Him (John 4:10–14; 7:37–39).
The heart—that is, the center of willing and desiring that drives all that we do—is so deceitful that none can really understand it. But the Lord can and does search our inmost thoughts, and nothing is hidden from Him (1 Corinthians 4:5). Ezekiel saw the need for God to give us cleansed and renewed hearts (Ezekiel 36:25–28). Jesus recalls Ezekiel’s words when He declares to Nicodemus the need to be born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5).
Sin will continue to cling to us our whole lives long, but the gospel of grace does not simply forgive us and then leave us as we were. God changes us. He gives us a thirst for holiness and re-sensitizes us to true beauty. We become human again.
Jeremiah turns to one of the great themes of the kingdom of God: the throne and the sanctuary. The visible institutions in Jerusalem of the temple and the Davidic throne are symbols of God’s presence and rule over all things. These symbols might be removed by the invading Babylonian, but the reality to which they point can never be touched. Even Solomon recognized that his glorious temple was only symbolic, because God dwells in the heavens (1 Kings 8:27–30; Isaiah 66:1–2; Acts 7:47–50). Jesus declares that He fulfills the role of the Jerusalem temple in His coming and particularly in His resurrection (John 2:19–22; Acts 2:30–32). Jesus’ kingly lordship over all is a consistent theme of the apostles (Luke 2:11; John 20:28; Acts 10:36; 2 Corinthians 4:5).
We cannot suppose that the keeping of the Sabbath was all that was required by the law. It clearly represents the covenant stipulations as a whole. Breaking the Sabbath was a very visible form of covenant violation. If the people refuse to live as the redeemed of the Lord, they cannot expect the covenant blessings to flow. Here Jeremiah links faithfulness to the Sinai covenant with the blessings of the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:12–16).
Ultimately, the rule of the Davidic messiah-king will come only when there is perfect obedience to God’s law. Jesus, the faithful Son of David, kept the law perfectly and also ascended to the throne of God at His resurrection (Acts 2:30–32; Romans 1:3–4). Having the law fulfilled for us by Jesus does not mean that the Believer’s life is lawless. On the contrary, we are empowered to fulfill the law of Jesus, not in order to be saved, but because we are saved by grace as a gift (Galatians 6:2; James 1:22–27). Having been loved much, we fulfill the law by loving others (Romans 13:8–10; Ephesians 5:2).
How do you allow the love of Jesus to flow through you to those around you?
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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