05 January Devotion
Jeremiah 31: 1-14
Ephesians 1: 3-14
The hand of the Lord has been heavy on Israel. They have repeatedly broken the covenant with YHWH and now they are reaping the judgement they deserve. God, through his prophets, have warned his people numerous times that if they do not turn back from their wicked ways, He will pronounce judgement on the nation. Jeremiah complains: “I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, saying, ‘Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds […] Yet you have not listened to me, declares the Lord, that you might provoke me to anger” (Jer. 25:4-6). Israel’s betrayal of YHWH is portrayed as “prostitution” (Jer. 2:20). Israel and Judah are under the heavy yoke of God’s judgement because they failed to keep God’s law. So far, Jeremiah the prophet has been the preacher of this judgement; the bearer of bad, yet true news.
Luckily, God’s word of judgement and wrath is not his final one. His final word comes in the form of a promise—a promise of restoration. “I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!” says the Lord, because “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.” What the Lord is promising here must have come as a surprise to a nation well aware of its unfaithfulness. There was nothing they had done to earn God’s second word (the promise of forgiveness and restoration). His everlasting love was the only basis for the promise of restoration.
It is amazing how the “unfaithful” are now receiving a promise of forgiveness from the “faithful” God, how the nation that acted like a “prostitute” is now addressed by God as “O virgin Israel,” and how the “scattered” will be “gathered” again. All by God’s word of promise. Jeremiah is now the preacher of the gospel, a bearer of good news!
Many people today reject any notion of God’s judgement and wrath. However, the Bible is clear that God demands obedience, and that the disobedience has consequences (the day that you eat of it you shall surely die). And, we all experience the judgement of the law when we fall short of its requirements. God’s holy and perfect law demonstrates how imperfect and sinful we are. Through it we recognize our inability and our need for a saviour.
The good news for us today is that God’s judgement is not His final word. On the cross Christ bore God’s wrath for us. Christ, for us, is not a new law-giver; he is the prophet who bears the good news of God’s forgiveness, the priest who atones for our sins, and the king in who’s reign we live.
Heavenly Father grant us ears to hear your words for us today. Thank you for the finality and completeness of your word for us in your Son. Amen.