Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Aug 15, Jer 32-34

Today's readings are Jer 32-34. Tomorrow's are Jer 35-37.

Contrasts and symbolism abound in these chapters. 

The Lord tells Jeremiah to buy land! This is a promise that the people will return after being taken captive. God gave the Hebrews the land, allotted it to them (Jer 32:21-22). Their disobedience, while causing them to pay a costly price (Jer 32:23-25), does not nullify God's eternal promise. 

However, neither does it soften the impact of what is about to come (Jer 32:26-35).

While the offenses of Israel are serious in nature and grave in their consequences, God will not destroy His people; He will refine them but not eliminate them. Indeed, He will redeem them and bring them back home (Jer 32:37). Not only will He bring them back to the land He promised them, but they will, once again, experience His fullest blessing (Jer 32:38-41). 

Don't miss the profound lesson in this. Israel has done nothing God told them to do (Jer 32:23, 30). They are totally unworthy of His blessing. Yet, He will return the evil they did with good (Jer 32:41)! This will happen by His sovereign will and action and not by anything they do (Jer 32:38-41).

Their redemption/salvation occurs through the grace of God who returns evil in His people for good by giving them new hearts and being their God. Likewise, we are saved by the same, unilateral action of God in redeeming us and changing our hearts. We are as unworthy as the Jews were in Jeremiah's time. Furthermore, as He changes our hearts and makes us more like Him, we should strive to be more like Him returning the evil around us with good. 

We see the contrast between invasion/captivity and buying land and between evil and good in Jer 32.  The contrasts continue in Jer 33. Even as the city prepares itself for war, God promises peace. But peace will come only when, not if, the people cry out to Him. God reveals that they will cry out and He will respond. His covenant will endure just as sure as the cycles between day and night endure (Jer 33:19-25).

Jer 34 provides a picture of King Zedekiah's fate which is laid out in amazing detail. We see another contrast: those who own slaves have set them free, but then enslaved them again, in direct opposition to the word of God. The disobedient slave masters will become slaves. The evil and rebellious spiritual/political leaders will become the prisoners and victims of the Chaldeans. 

Jer 34 ends with a chilling phrase, "...I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant."

The contrasts we see in these chapters have practical application for us today. As believers, the evil we do will be returned with the goodness of God. We are taken prisoner by the evil influences of the world but God will set us free. Our disobedience to Him will be resolved when He sheds His grace upon us. But, callously ignoring His word and His commandments will produce strife, battle and hardship.

Realizing that these books of the Old Testament reveal God's character and nature can be more helpful than many believe. We can, in our human imperfection, do all we can do to obey God and enjoy His blessing, as Jeremiah is doing. Or, we can disobey Him and suffer earthly consequences, as the people of Judah are doing. Both Jeremiah and the people of Judah will one day occupy the land. Jeremiah's path, while not an easy one, will be considerably easier than that of the people of Judah who have brought their hardships down upon themselves. Likewise, all those who are truly saved will go to heaven. Our actions and behavior will determine how rough the road to heaven will be.

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