These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
quick observation: when you see the sins Israel has committed, and then the number of times God has tried to get them to stop, and then the fact that even when He does bring punishment He still will not completely destroy them (though He could)…it really fills me with a picture of God’s grace. Same as in Isaiah. In the prophet books, you see rebuke after rebuke and judgment coming…but then you see redemption and grace given out, too. The thing that always hits me is that the people seem to do nothing to change or that deserves the redemption and kindness that comes later. They’re wicked, God could annihilate, but God doesn’t because of His goodness and grace. I always am in awe of God’s grace as I read the O.T. Which is the exact opposite of the stereotype people have of the O.T. (that it is devoid of grace). Maybe the mockers aren’t really reading it very well!
There is a lot of strong language to start out the book of Jeremiah.
That it is easy to simply see God’s judgement in these books and overlook the abundance of his grace. I see God’s heart is so full of forgiveness, and his desire is that his people would be united with him.
In chapter 3 Jeremiah paints a picture of God’s people as an unfaithful lover.
v. 6 “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.”
Years ago I read a book that painted a similar picture. It said that if you have ever been cheated on in a relationship then you have felt a bit of what God feels every time we sin against him.
This is a tough analogy to accept, but God is absolutely holy and cannot tolerate any sin at all. Thankfully, as said above, our God is so gracious to us. After going on about how big of a prostitute Israel is, God’s grace shines through again.
v.12 “Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD, I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful, declares the LORD…”
I was struck by something in ch. 12~
God basically says that other nations have introduced the idolatry and deception to Israel. And those nations will be judged for doing so. BUT first he makes it clear that Israel is not innocent in the matter. They will be judged for choosing the deception, idolatry, etc.
This hits me because I see lots of false teachers out there. And there’s times where I think the people under their teaching are innocent victims, and I’m just mad at the false teachers. But God sees it different. He doesn’t see innocent victims here. People are choosing to sit under false teachers, and not reject it, or seek God otherwise. It’s like in the Bible where it talks about itching ears choosing to go to teachers who satisfy their cravings. No one is an innocent victim here. All play a part in the idolatry. And we need to answer for where we have sinned and contribute to it.
I have actually seen a real parallel in both these prophetic books as I think someone else mentioned as well in how much God is chasing after His people/us. As you alluded to Brian, the stereotype with the OT is that God is only full of judgment and wrath but I think these books beautifully highlight God’s true and full character.
Francis Chan talked about how 2/3 of the Bible is verses on judgment and 1/3 on grace and mercy, yet we all want to over focus on the mercy and grace. While this is true, we also need to focus on the fact in His judgment and wrath in context He is always slow to anger, He gives multiple chances, is always reaching out His hand looking for the faithful, and often has a remnant of His people. As both Brian and Jacob alluded the Lord’s mercy really is staggering when God easily could have lost patience with His people many many times. I guess there is hope for me yet…
I’ve been thinking about Jer 10:24 ~ “Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.”
Justice is contrasted with anger. I think this is important to remember in a time where justice and anger are “bleeding” together a lot. Love and “justly correcting” someone seeks to restore that person unto repentance after they acted wrongly. Anger seeks retribution and to bring that person down after they acted wrongly.
If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
Jeremiah 18:7-10 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Jeremiah%2018:7-10&version=ESV
Note how there is a condition in Gods prophecy here. We see this in Jonah when they repented
I’ve been thinking about how Jeremiah is a young man (see ch. 1). And here he is saying all this really unpopular stuff that the Jewish religious leaders/elites thought were crazy.
Makes me wonder who the Jeremiah’s are today amongst us–chances are, sadly, we may be among those thinking they are crazy. God give us ears to hear!
30:11 ~ “‘I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’”
Been thinking about how God’s discipline was a 70 year exile in Babylon. Those who willingly received it He promised blessing. Those who fought against it, He brought extended punishment.
All to say–choose to humbly receive the discipline God gives us.
Going back to Jeremiah 17:9 about how the heart is deceitful and desperately sick has always been a verse that has stuck with me. Yet this time around it was the verse after that resonated… 17:10 reads, “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind to give every man according to his ways according to the fruit of his deeds.”
The Lord is after our hearts which is very evident as we read through this book. He knows our innermost thoughts and searches our hearts. He is the ultimate judge. May we keep coming back to Him as he is the only source of living water (17:13)
What amazing faith from Jeremiah… he came to share a message and did not fear death to share it.
I was touched last night reading Jer. 32. Here they are, about to be completely defeated by Babylon, and God told Jeremiah they wouldn’t come back for 70 years. So what does God have Jeremiah do next? Buy property!! Jeremiah would be dead by the time he could even use the property. But here Jeremiah is, having official deeds, and witnesses, and the whole thing. When they are at war and about to be overthrown haha. But God decreed it all as a prophetic sign. It just grabs me how different God’s ways are than ours. No one would look at that and think, “Good purchase, Jeremiah” (even though it seems a pretty cheap rate) LOL. But God sees it all different–it’s not about Jeremiah gaining or having land…but about God speaking something to the people through his servant.
Oh man – reading Jer. 42 undid me!!
“Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.” (42:6)
The irony is that God told them to do something simple: stay put. Yet they run to Egypt!!! You can’t make this stuff up.
It reminded me of Jer. 17 where God shows that the heart is deceitful above all things. Their heart deceived them into thinking they were eager to obey God. But in reality they weren’t. They only wanted to obey God if He told them what they wanted. So they made up excuses and justifications why God didn’t really say those things to Jeremiah.
Please let that stop all of us in our tracks. Get past our self-righteous beliefs that we are ready to obey whatever God tells us to do. Our heart isn’t. So instead of thinking we are so eager to obey God and sacrifice all for Him, I have a better suggestion. Lean wholly on the God who is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). Own that we aren’t as great as we think. And that we need God every step of the way to be faithful to Him, because our sin-sick heart will always come up with an excuse to disobey. I think a lot of progress would be made if we stop deceiving ourselves here. Thank You, Lord, for your word which exposes us for who we really are. And thank you for loving and forgiving us and working with us–knowing who we really are. Your grace is beyond words.
“Not I…but Christ” – Gal. 2:20. That’s the sort of Christianity we really need
to add a personal note:
This morning, before reading this, I was challenged about whether I’d be willing to move or sell our house if the Lord told us to (after just finally settling in). And I thought, I hope I would say yes if you made it clear, but my heart struggles with that question…I’m not sure I could answer unless it happened to me, but I know I need to be prepared to do whatever God commands whenever He commands it. So all of that was in the back of my mind when I read Jer. 42…I told you it undid me!
Moab shall be destroyed and be no longer a people, because he magnified himself against the Lord.
“Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields! The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.
Amazing how specific Jeremiah (like Isaiah) is about future world events
“Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let every one save his life from the fierce anger of the Lord!
This is written like a command for Israel, yet the reality is they were to stay in Babylon 70 more years and God would have to free them miraculously. Makes me wonder how many other things might we read as commands to be worked out instantly by our flesh, whereas God is wanting to work it out in His power and timing and looking for us to wait/trust in Him more for the deliverance.
Another take: maybe this was an instant command for their soul/spirit to separate from Babylon (even though they live there), while their body would flee later (similar to the Christian life).
A 3rd take: as a prophecy perhaps this is cast in the future for a time period when they would literally need to bodily leave that instant.
Whatever the case, let us be careful to consider the full context of what God says before hastily going forward one way or another.
I will make drunk her officials and her wise men, her governors, her commanders, and her warriors; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
Literally happened when Persia overthrew them — see Dan 5
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God works in us to will and do His good pleasure.