Discover His heart: Through the ruins, He will search for a people who will love Him
My mother often said to me “Be careful what you ask for from God because He might just give it to you.” Perhaps she was thinking of Israel’s insistent request to God for a king. “All the elders of Israel met at Ramah…with Samuel. ‘Look,’ they told him, ‘you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.’” (I Samuel 8:4) And so God gave them their kings. Now in Jeremiah, after almost 500 years of mostly evil kings, the kingdom was coming to an end at the hand of Babylon. The Israelites received from God what they had asked from Him.
Bad kings, bad shepherds, bad prophets – bad times for Israel. Jeremiah had preached repentance to the nation for 23 years, but no one cared to listen. The kings ruled unfairly, the selfish religious leaders deserted the sheep, and the prophets spoke lies and words to tickle the ears of their listeners. Some of this sounds rather …. current.
“If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words.” (23:22) Instead, they made up dreams and stole messages from each other. And in their audacity, they thought that God wouldn’t notice. “Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” (23:24) Can no one see us when we close our eyes? Just as ridiculous.
I remember when I was young – or was it yesterday – I thought I was free and clear if no one saw when I did something wrong as if God did not get the memo that day. According to Psalm 139, He knew everything about my life before I was born, so chances are I haven’t fooled Him about a thing – the bad and the good. God sees all that we do, and He still loves us. He just can’t help Himself.
Bad figs. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ I replied, ‘Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.’” (3) The bad figs represented the Israelites who stayed in Jerusalem after the Babylonian siege. They had every opportunity to turn from their sin and repent, but they chose not to do so.
Good figs. The good figs represented the hope of Israel – those exiles to Babylon who chose to follow God, like Daniel. A remnant of hope would remain after this terrible period in Israel’s history. Tucked away in the middle of all this badness was something good. Jeremiah 23:3-6, “But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold…For the time is coming when I will raise up a righteous descendant…He will be a King who rules with wisdom…And this will be his name: The Lord is our righteousness.”
Jesus, the righteous descendant came, yet Israel is still struggling to accept Him. Regardless, Israel exists today because it has known His mercy through the decades. He has seen it all, and just as with all of us, He still loves them. He just can’t help Himself.
Moving Forward: Today when I make my petitions, I pray for His will. Lord, don’t give me what I ask just because I want it, but give me what you know to be good for me. I am ever thankful for your grace to me – and to Israel. In response to your great love, may our hearts be ever contrite before you.
Tomorrow @ Mark 13-14