Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah’

The “Good”

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

There are a few verses in the book of Jeremiah that, when I read them, immediately caused me to think of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”  Those will be the themes of my next three posts, all taken from this passage in Jeremiah.

Here we find the “good.”  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”  The verse tells us this and then goes on to give us a delightful description of the life of that man.  Nothing in the description is bad and everything would be things that we would all like to have exemplify our own lives. 

The picture is of a very fruitful tree, planted by a river.  A tree planted by a river has no worries about obtaining water (I suppose a tree doesn’t technically “worry”, but this is imagery so we will go along with it).  A tree planted by a river has all the water it could possibly ever need.  The heat doesn’t bother this tree and the drought that kills other trees not rooted by the river won’t touch this tree.  This tree is ever supplied by an endless flow of pure water.

The same can be said of those who put their trust and their hope in the Lord.  He will constantly nourish and help them.  Even when there are trials and troubles and problems all around Him, He will not whither and will continue to bear fruit.  This is an excellent picture of how wonderful it is to fully trust in Him.

 

If He Does It

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14

How many times have we had some sickness, from which we recover, only to get sick again?  I had a cold a few weeks ago.  It lasted about a week, during which I suffered from a sore throat, cough, stuffy nose and headache.  It wasn’t the worst cold I’ve ever had, but it was annoying.  I would say that, as of right now, I am “healed.”  I feel fine.  I do not have that cold any more.  But will that be the last time I ever catch a cold?  I would like to say that it will be, but I seriously doubt it.  I will probably catch another cold at some point in my life, probably sooner rather than later.  So my “healing” will turn out to be a merely temporary healing.  And I think that is basically the summation of all human sickness in the history of humanity.  Those who were “healed” were only healed temporarily.  Eventually, all humans succumb to one thing or another from which they do not heal.

The same goes for “saving.”  If you were to pull a person from a burning building, you would get credit for “saving them.”  But, again, that saving would only be temporary.  Their life could again be in peril the next day or the next week or the next year.  In our normal experiences, “healing” and “saving” are temporary things.

Not so with God.

I love the wording of this verse: “heal me, and I shall be healed.  Save me, and I shall be saved.”  That really does sum it up.  If God is the one doing the healing, it is permanent, final and absolute.  If God is the one doing the saving, consider yourself saved. 

What a glorious truth this is!  If we are trusting in man (be it someone else or even ourselves), we are going to be disappointed.  But when we put our trust in God, that is a hope that is secure.

Correct Me Mercifully

O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Jeremiah 10:24

This verse immediately reminded me of another verse that I like, Habakkuk 3:2 “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”  I like the phrase “in wrath, remember mercy.”  I think that is an important phrase for all of us and it is a phrase that I like to use sometimes when praying.

We all know the devastation that sin brings.  We all know that sin is wrong.  We all know that we reap what we sow.  We all know that, as God’s children, we are going to face His correction when we go astray.  And receiving that correction is an important part of our Christian lives.  But, when we find ourselves in need of correction, we would be wise to remember the verse that says “in wrath, remember mercy.”

In this verse, the prophet is asking the Lord to not correct him in His anger, “lest thou bring me to nothing.”  God would be just in wiping us off the face of the earth every time we sinned.  But He is merciful and slow to wrath.  He would be just in “brining the hammer down” every time we failed Him.  But yet He retains His mercy.

It is an important thing for us to receive correction when we do wrong, but it is also an important thing for us to pray that the Lord will remember mercy when He is forced to correct us.  We deserve all of His wrath being poured out on us, but, thanks be to Him, He is merciful to us.  In wrath remember mercy.

Who Made It?

Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

Jeremiah 10:11

Much has been made over the past hundred years or so about the beginning of the earth.  Some people believe that the earth, and life on the earth, came from a gradual process called evolution.  According to this theory, simple organisms somehow evolved into more complex organisms and continued mutating and growing until arriving in the modern, twenty-first century world of vast diversity and complexity.

Others choose to believe the Bible when it says “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”  I happen to be in this category, just in case anyone reading this would wonder.  As I was reading this verse in Jeremiah, I started to think about the beginning of the earth.  This verse tells us that “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even thy shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens…” 

I thought about all of the different civilizations of the past and their “creation myths,” some of which make for interesting reading and some of which are just down right strange.  None of those “gods” made the earth.  And they will perish.  But what of those who believe in evolution?  They would stand up and say that they do not believe in any god making the earth.  Then it occurred to me.  Evolutionists worship human intellect and reason.  That is their “god.”  All worship of intellect and reason and even nature is just an advanced form of self worship.  And I believe that the Bible would tell us that that too will perish.

There is only one God who “made the earth.”  Let us be glad today that we serve and worship Him!

Work of Man vs. God

Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.  But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Jeremiah 10:9-10

As we read through the Bible, we can’t help but notice that over and over again the Lord compares Himself to the work of men’s hands.  While that may seem at first glance to be a ridiculous comparison, the Lord makes it over and over again in the Bible.  Why?  The only reason I can come up with is the simple fact that we need it.

In these particular verses, He mentions silver being spread into plates being brought in from Tarshish and gold coming from Uphaz.  These were probably very nice and ornate things.  It takes a skilled craftsman to work with metals and make them into something beautiful.  The men who made these things were skilled.  The objects that they created were no doubt beautiful and valuable.  The Bible describes them as “cunning men.”  There are many nice things all around us today.  There are many nice things that are result of peoples’ great skill and intelligence.

But they are not God.  These verses tell us that at His wrath “the earth shall tremble.”  Entire nations can not stand before Him.  He is the everlasting King.  But how often do we “worship” those other things?  How often do we spend our lives and our time obsessing about things that were made with mens’ hands?  How often do we ignore the God of the universe in favor of earthly things? 

The more I think about it, the more I begin to understand why the Lord needs to remind us so often that He is God and the things that we so often work so hard for are not.  Because we need it.

Who Would Not Fear Thee?

Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  Who would not fear thee, O King of nations?  for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Jeremiah 10:6-7

There was one phrase that really struck me when I first read this passage.  “Who would not fear thee, O King of nations?”  That is a very interesting question and it got me to thinking.  Who wouldn’t fear the Lord?  Think about that.  Who would not fear almighty God?  This verse refers to Him as the King of nations.  God is the creator of the entire universe.  God made everything.  God has power over everything.  God is all-powerful.  God is all-knowing.  God is not just the creator of everything, and not only does He know everything, but He is everywhere all at once.  Why would anyone in their right mind not fear Him?

To me, it makes no sense.  But the fact remains that there are many people in the world who have no fear of God.  There are probably more people in the world who do not fear God than there are people who do fear Him.  Why is that?  I honestly don’t have a good answer for that question.  There are some who do not fear Him simply because they do not know Him.  There are some who do not fear Him because they have rejected Him and have tried to put Him out of their minds.  The Israelites that Jeremiah is writing to had rejected Him and ignored Him.  They had no fear of Him even though they were His earthly people.

I asked the question, but I have no good answer to the question “who would not fear Him” other than through the hardness of our own hearts.  It is important that we never lose our awe and our fear of the Lord.

Instruction and Rejection

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein and ye shall find rest for your souls.  But they said, We will not walk therein.  Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet.  But they said, We will not hearken.

Jeremiah 6:16-17

This continues the sad story of the children of Israel.  God had given them everything and they had rebelled against Him.  He had chosen them, He had led them out of slavery, and He had given them the land of promise.  But, after all of that, they had turned their backs on Him.  Again, He here tells them to “stand in the ways” and to “ask for the old paths.” 

He tells them that, if they will do those things, they would “find rest for their souls.”  Instead of being judged, punished and destroyed, they would find rest.  All they had to do was return to Him.  But they refused.  The verse says that they said “We will not walk therein.”  What more could the Lord have done for them?  What more could He have given them?  They didn’t just stumble.  They didn’t just “make a mistake” here and there.  They made a conscious decision to reject the Lord and to have no part in Him or with Him.  Later generations would say “crucify Him!  crucify Him!”  They would shake their fists in the very face of God and tell Him “His blood be on us, and on our children,”  (Matthew 27:25)

Let us be ever vigilant that we do not react to Him as these people so long ago did.  Let us watch our own hearts and ask Him to help us keep them fixed on Him.  Let us not ever reject Him.  Let us ask for the old paths.  Let us walk in them.  Let us stand in the way with Him.  What a convicting thought!

 

A Soft Heart

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

Jeremiah 9:1

I once heard a preacher comment on this verse by saying that most people today are too hard hearted and I think that I would have to agree with that assessment.  Here, the prophet Jeremiah (aptly nicknamed “the weeping prophet”) is lamenting the slain of his people.  To me, this verse is very convicting.

How many people do I know who do not know Jesus Christ?  How many people have I come across during my life who didn’t know Him?  How many people are there out there in the world who have never even heard the gospel?  We live in a dying world.  Those all around us are perishing and how often have I not even been moved by that thought?  I know the Lord.  He gave me the opportunity to grow up hearing about Him and His saving grace.  I have a Bible.  I have several Bibles.  And I know how to read them.  While I have heard the name of Jesus just about every singly day of my entire life, how many people are there in the world who have never even heard His name once?  Even more convicting, how complacent have I been with these facts?

Jeremiah, in this verse, wishes that his eyes were a fountain of tears so that he could shed them for his people.  I don’t know that my compassion for people will ever be quite that high, but I know that I can have much, much more compassion for the lost.  I know that my heart is too hard.  Only the Lord can soften our hearts and give us a heart for Himself and for His work.

Glory In Him

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:24

That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory  in the Lord.

I Corinthians 1:31

This verse in Jeremiah immediately made me think of the verse in I Corinthians.  As I have said before, I love seeing something in the Old Testament that I know is repeated in the New Testament.  It’s like seeing an old friend in an unexpected place.  Both of these verses say the same thing, and any time something is repeated, it must be important.  And I think that this concept is important. 

In these verses, God tells us what to glory in.  He tells us exactly what to do; I like verses like that.  He tells us that the absolute only reason in the entire world to glory in anything is Him.  He is the reason that we should have glory and He should be the singular object of that glory.  If we are going to glory in anything, let us glory in Him. 

In Jeremiah, He tells us that His characteristics are lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness.  These are the things that should excite us.  Just think about His lovingkindness to us.  Think about His judgment and His righteousness.  All of those characteristics of God came together perfectly at the cross.  There, the sacrifice of Jesus showed God’s lovingkindness toward us, His judgment on sin, and His perfect righteousness embodied in the One who was crucified.  This is the reason that Paul would later say in Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

There is only one reason for us to glory: Jesus Christ and His cross.  But what a wonderful thing to glory in!

 

Withholden Good Things

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

Jeremiah

This is a powerful verse that really makes you think.  What good things have my sins kept from me?  That is a loaded question.  And, quite honestly, it is a question that I do not like to dwell on.  But maybe thinking about it a little bit every now and then will help me to not have quite so many good things withheld from me in the future.  Constantly remembering our past failures is a recipe for fear and more failure.  It can make us want to just throw in the towel when we think of how many times we have failed our Lord and Saviour.  But sometimes remembering how we have failed Him can spur us on to serve Him more faithfully. 

This verse tells us that these people had good things withheld from them because of sin.  The Lord loves us and wants to bless us.  But sometimes He can’t bless us because of our sin.  Our sin always causes problems.  It causes problems for us and it causes problems for others.  I don’t know how many times the Lord wanted to use me to help someone else, but couldn’t because of my sin.  I don’t know what the good things that I have missed in my life are, but I know that I can look back to points in my life when my sin has come between me and the Lord.

Thinking about these things is not pleasant, but it does make me think of two things: first, I am thankful that the Lord has had mercy on me and on my many sins.  Second, it burns a desire to stay close to Him and serve Him even deeper into my heart.  What good things has the Lord been forced to withhold from us?  Let us ask Him to help us do our best to not miss anything that He would have for us!