Swollen Rivers Subside (Jeremiah 46:1–28)

"About Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates at Carchemish and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah...

Who is this, rising like the Nile, 
     like rivers whose waters surge? 
Egypt rises like the Nile, 
     like rivers whose waters surge. 
He said, 'I will rise, I will cover the earth, 
     I will destroy cities and their inhabitants.'"

—Jeremiah 46:2, 7–8

With Assyria on the wane, Babylon waxes strong while Egypt enjoys something of a resurgence. Pridefully, Egypt swells like her Nile, ambitious to flood the lands around her. Assyria had acted as a buffer between Egypt and Babylon; so it is no surprise that Egypt heads north to aid Assyria. It was en route to do so that Pharaoh Neco was intercepted by King Josiah. Eventually Neco sets up his base at Carchemish. The two rising world powers of the age are set to clash. The Battle of Carchemish would prove a critical turning point in history.

The Nile’s resurgence proves to be due to nothing other than a flash flood. The waters will subside as quickly as they rose. All human glory, even that of nations, of superpowers, all of it fades. Their flow of glory can never surpass the ebb caused by God’s judgment. The nations can never rise so far as to mitigate their fall. It is futile for them to spread miles in hopes of keeping even a few inches. There can be no advance of human glory.

Humanity should remain humble before the Holy one, and this includes collected humanity as well. The Tower of Babel was not preserved despite man’s unified strength. The greatest judgements fall where pride is concentrated. Man’s collected power doesn’t dampen the blow; it intensifies it. So hear the Lord’s admonition in Jeremiah 9:23–26 afresh:

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart’” (emphasis mine).

Hear this admonition and resolve as Paul did to boast in nothing but “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to [you], and [you] to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:14–15). And having been crucified to the world, rejoice, even when you see superpowers fall. Even when it seems as though the world is being flipped upside down, rejoice knowing that it is being prepared to be flipped right-side up in Jesus. Remember, you are a citizen of heaven. When all the nations of this earth are manifestly put under Jesus feet, then heaven will come down, all things will be made new, and the citizens of the kingdom will humbly serve their Lord with joy forevermore.

God Always Has the Everlasting Word (Jeremiah 44–45)

“This shall be the sign to you, declares the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm…” —Jeremiah 44:29

With the forty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah, you come to the prophet’s last recorded words to the Judeans. Chapters 46–51, known as the “oracles against the nations,” are from an earlier date, actually the same date as chapter 45, the fourth year of Jehoiakim. In Jeremiah 25:13, Yahweh says, “I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations” (emphasis mine). Chapters 46–51are this book as the opening verses (46:1–2) make clear. Beyond these, we only have chapter 52, which is a kind of a postscript. As far as recorded revelation is concerned, this is Jeremiah’s last sermon.

Jeremiah’s long and faithful ministry is drawing to a close. He’s now preaching in a new location, but it seems as though he’s dusting off all his old sermons, marking out “Jerusalem” and inserting “Egypt.” Deal is, he’s still preaching to the same church. Jeremiah isn’t finishing lazy, recycling old material. The people of God are repeating the same old sins.

Jeremiah ends where he began, rebuking their idolatry and warning of judgment. Further, Jeremiah’s ministry ends where it all began. The people of God, redeemed out of Egypt, are now rejected in Egypt. This time, instead of leaving Egypt blessed, they return cursed. In Egypt, the people began, being delivered by judgment. Now, back in Egypt, they will end, being destroyed by judgment. They have returned back to the beginning for the end.

The remnant refuses to heed this word, saying they will keep their vows to the queen of heaven. God then vows that they will no longer make vows in His name, for they are and will be cut off. What this last word boils down to is a contest of who will have the last word. The Judeans resolve to keep their vows to the queen of heaven. Yahweh resolves to judge their idolatry. Whose word will stand? Jeremiah’s last words were everlasting words, for they were the words of the everlasting God. God doesn’t simply have the last Word, His is always the everlasting Word. His word, both of judgment and grace, will forever stand.

Failing the Hearing Test (Jeremiah 42–43)

“The LORD has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and whatever the LORD our God says, declare to us and we will do it.’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.” —Jeremiah 49:19–22

With the fall of Jerusalem in chapter 39 of Jeremiah, you’re left asking “What’s next?” Chapters 40–41 begin to answer that question and chapters 42–42 begin to tell you why behind the what. What’s next is judgment and why is their failure to listen. Roughly a decade before the city fell, Yahweh told Jeremiah that the people who would remain in the land would be like very bad figs, whereas those taken into exile would be regarded as very good figs. Here you see how bad the bad figs are. But you can’t initially see it from the outside. This is the kind of produce that passes the eye and nose test only for you to cut into it at home and find things rotten to the core. God puts pressure on His people, and once squeezed, the rottenness comes out.

Expecting reprisal from Babylon for Ishmael’s murder of Gedaliah and the Chaldean soldiers, the remnant plans to seek refuge in Egypt. But before they do so they pull over to ask for directions. It will become clear that they have no intention to heed any directions, they just want to be seen as they humble type who asks for them. They can’t imagine anything other than a green light for Egypt, so it’s therefore safe to ask. They’re like the child who only asks when their certain they’ll receive a yes. This gives them the appearance of being submissive. If such a child expects a “no” then he’ll try and play ignorant and innocent after the fact. But the remnant will soon learn they’re not so cute and God is not so naive.

This remnant isn’t seeking the word of Yahweh, but a word from Yahweh. This is why they speak piously but listen wickedly. They speak well hoping to get the answer they want, ergo, they are prepped to listen rebelliously should they hearing anything otherwise. To speak well is nothing if we do not hear well. Hard ears reveal the wickedness of a smooth tongue. The people sing pretty but their heart isn’t in it, and in this instance, the beat is more important than the words. They’ve got the right lyrics, but God listens for the beat of their heart, and it’s way off.

What’s next is judgment. The why is their failure to listen. The present trial is to make plain who they are so that when God trashes the figs, everyone understands His justice in doing so—they were bad, really bad. The only kind of ripe they were was ripe for destruction. This world is headed for judgment and salvation and the test laid before us everyday as to which destination we will find is a simple hearing test.

“Thus says the LORD: ‘As the new wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and from Judah possessors of my mountains; my chosen shall possess it, and my servants shall dwell there. Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in’ ” (Isaiah 68:8–12, emphasis mine).

Don’t. Run. (Jeremiah 39:1–18)

“You shall not escape from his hand but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face. And you shall go to Babylon.” —Jeremiah 34:3

“When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled, going out of the city at night by way of the king’s garden through the gate between the two walls; and they went toward the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. And when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, at Riblah, in the land of Hamath; and he passed sentence on him. The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon.” —Jeremiah 39:4–7

In adventure thrillers, especially those involving dinosaurs, there’s always that companion, who, when the composed expert whispers “Don’t. Run.”, they inevitably run. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah told Zedekiah that should he run, though his teeth would not slay him, his claws would maim him. Despite Babylon coming, as Yahweh had said, despite Babylon returning, as Yahweh had said, despite the walls being breached, as Yahweh had said, still the king runs. God has promised A, B, C, and D. Now, though A, B, and C have come to pass, Zedekiah still things he can out run D.  

Don’t. Run. You cannot sin smartly, but sin always smarts. When we sin swiftly, we must remember we live on a globe. Run from God’s throne and you’ll come right back to it exhausted, with a heavier burden of guilt, and filthy with sin. Yahweh is both omnipresent and omnipotent. Wherever you may run, you’re running in a circle. Anywhere you go, there He is and there He is with all power. Neither is stealth an option. He is omniscient. He knows. You cannot sneak by him. Earthly lions sleep some twenty hours a day, but the Lion of heaven is never even drowsy. Tiptoeing is no more effective than running.

If you are thinking that his anger must somehow be satiated because he has swallowed kingdoms whole, you are mistaken. When God pours out His wrath on a people over there, don’t think a person might escape it over here. Only the blood of Christ can placate His just wrath. The boiling pot of God’s holy judgment hangs over the heads of sinners (Jeremiah 1:13–15; Ephesians 2:3). The pot may be slow in tipping, but once it does, you cannot outrun it. Every sin will be judged. Your only hope is that one big enough and gracious enough would stand between you and the flow and bear it Himself in your place. Don’t. Run. Bow before the crucified and risen Christ.

Red Rover, Red Rover Let God Come on Over (Jeremiah 38:1–28)

Then the officials said to the king, “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.”

—Jeremiah 38:4

Jeremiah was persecuted by the cult of positivity. Yes, the smily Joel Osteen prophets of peace have it in them to toss you into a muck filled cistern and leave you for dead. Listen to Osteenesque prophets of positivity today, and note how frequently they tell you not to listen to negative voices. Wed the religion of positivity to political power, then threaten it, and start your stopwatch to see how long it is before they get negative on your existence.

If you aren’t encouraging people in their dreams, you’re harmful, even if their dream is to play Red Rover on the interstate with oncoming traffic. Man would rather hear positive lies than negative truth. This is why when you tell Timmy that he cannot be Sally, you’re accused of hate speech. The world is building a tower to reach the heavens and if you tell them that it can’t be done, they will either roll their eyes, or, if you’re threatening enough, they’ll mortar the bricks with your blood.

Positive and negative are not akin to the Biblical categories of righteousness and evil. If a glass has arsenic in it, why argue whether it is half-full or half-empty? It is good to be positive about righteousness and negative about sin. Being down on sin is a major upper. Being up on sin is a major downer.

This isn’t a t-ball game. Judah is the JV team up against the pros. Far worse, Babylon is simply a bat in Yahweh’s omnipotent hands. What this world wants is prophets who will say that sin will be successful. You can’t be optimistic about taking on the Omnipotent. Don’t believe in yourself. Believe in God. Repent and bow to Christ the Lord.

This message doesn’t weaken your hands. Your hands are weak. It is any delusion otherwise that is truly harmful. If all humanity joins hands in defiance and invites God to “come on over,” this isn’t a game man has any hope of winning. Limbs will be severed.

The only thing God’s truth harms is your pride and your flesh. Make no mistake, bow to God’s truth, and you’ll die, but you only die to death. God harms to heal. On the other side, there is resurrection and new creation.

You Can Burn the Paper but You Can’t Burn the Word (Jeremiah 36:1–32)

“It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them” (Jeremiah 36:22–25).

In 1820 Thomas Jefferson completed a work he titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. The title tells all. Jesus’ life, not his death or resurrection, is the concern. The significance of this is further brought out by the word “morals.” It isn’t that Jesus teaching doesn’t concern morality, but that He is merely put on the level of other great moral philosophers. And though Jesus was from Nazareth, here this functions as the identifier of His person, rather than that He was from Heaven, the eternal Son of God.

In 2005 Christian Smith, a sociology professor at Notre Dame, described American religious belief as “moralistic therapeutic deism.” We are a young nation. It was a short journey. With Jefferson, you can see that the seeds for much of this were sown as early as the Revolution. Scratch out “therapeutic” and you’ve got Jefferson’s religion—moralistic deism.

books-4733993_1280.jpgWhat I haven’t told you yet, but what you may well be aware of, is that Jefferson didn’t write one word of this book. It was a cut and paste project. Jefferson literally took knife and glue to New Testament, purging the miraculous and the supernatural. The work is commonly known as the “Jefferson Bible” and is held by the Smithsonian Institute. Jefferson didn’t burn the Bible as a whole, he simply relegated the parts he didn’t like to the wastebasket. Neither was his act a public one as Jehoiakim’s. It was made and kept for his own private use. One can understand why he didn’t broadcast what he had done in that era. Still, though his actions were less violent and more reasoned, they were just as wicked and blasphemous.

Liberal theology of the 19th century replicated the Jeffersonian method, searching for the historical Jesus. They didn’t use a physical knife, but with the knife of the tongue they told us what parts of the Bible could not be true and gave explanations for how the Jesus myth grew. On the other side of their little project, like Jefferson, what was left was a kind of moralism labeled the “social gospel.”

While the evangelical church held firm against the intellectual elite’s attack on the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, she compromised to the masses regarding the sufficiency of Scripture. Though the Bible is so revered and never subjected to scissors or fire, it is instead left to be buried under the collected dust of neglect. The Bible, in many churches, is little more than a prop. When it is referenced, it’s only to prop up our own ideas. Say what we will about Jefferson and liberal theologians—at least they rigorously read and studied the Bible. That’s much more than can be said for a great swath of Evangelicalism today. We may believe in the miraculous, but like Jefferson, we like our Bible’s cut and pasted. We fool ourselves that we’re not as vile as Jehoiakim, throwing the parts we don’t care for into a fire of oblivion. 

Evangelicalism says she’s friends with the Bible, but you sense she’s embarrassed. She wants her friend present but silent. When Scripture is allowed to speak freely and fully, it’s given the cold shoulder, or what we might call a soft burn. But like Jehoiakim, she’ll find all her efforts futile. She tries to burn the word with pyrotechnics. But her light show is only impressive in the dark. When the Sun blazes, no one will ooh and ahh. She tries to pin the Word with a wrestling show. This is like one imagining they’ve pinned a rhinoceros who happened to be sleeping; the illusion won’t last long. She waters down the word and juices up the music; but her tunes will run dry and she’ll be made to drink of the cup of God’s judgment, undiluted.

God’s words come out the fire unscathed every time. Man can burn some paper; that is all. Fear Him who is able to destroy body and soul in hell. Tremble at His word.

“A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:6–8).

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 36:1–32 || Writing And Reading || Josh King

Obedience School (Jeremiah 35:1–19)

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the LORD. The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me” (Jeremiah 35:13–16).

We live in an age where a child spouting a four-letter word is not so much regarded as disobedience as obedience is regarded as a four-letter word. When I say the “o” word, what sort of image pops into your noggin? Whatever the image, is it more along the lines of an ugly tyrant demanding obedience, or a beautiful child offering obedience? I’d venture that the collective moral imagination of society today leans heavily toward thinking of “obedience” as something the villain demands. The heroine of the story is the one who defies authority to live freely. Disney much?

True, there are tyrants to be defied; but how often is the authority an outright tyrant? How rarely is obedience to a good authority praised? Our age may believe it has progressed a great deal so that stories of “courageous disobedience” are delighted in, but the plot is an ancient one. It repeats the very lie told to our mother in the garden. We have been dying, literally dying to believe it ever since.

dachshund-672780_1280.jpgC.S. Lewis, in his preface for Milton’s Paradise Lost, wrote, “Everything except God has some natural superior; everything except unformed matter has some natural inferior. The goodness, happiness, and dignity of every being consists in obeying its natural superior and ruling its natural inferiors.” Our goodness, happiness, and dignity are to be found in obedience. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the duty which God requireth of man?” The answer, “The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.” That answer is not only true, it is good and beautiful.

When God says, “Places everyone!” we should not only know our place, we should know that our place is the best place for us to be. We believe it is a good thing that the sun keeps its course, but when it comes to our own course, we’d like to think we know better. We don’t want to know our place, we want to make it. We don’t want to be a stage hand, we want to own the stage. We don’t want to shine the spotlight, we want to be in it.

Of course a fish cannot be happy on land, but, surely man must be happier outside the ethical orbit he was made to live in. Man is evolving. This is why one man thinks he will be happier if he were a woman. With this, what man is saying is that he would be happier if he were God and God were man. He would rather make God in His image than be made in the image of God. The former seems so freeing; the latter constraining. When a child doesn’t obey their parents, they demonstrate that they’d really rather not have parents. They’d like big people who coddle them and commend them, but not command them. One reason children do this to their parents is that their parents model it before them—this is how mom and dad relate to God. The parent planets cannot get out of orbit without carrying their little moons into an irregular orbit with them. Yet, because the parents think they are god, they can’t imagine why little Timmy would behave as though he were. The only real solution is for everyone to assume their places as told and delight in them.

God planted man in a garden of delight, and if man would have obeyed, he would have stayed. As a result of disobedience, man was driven from the garden to live out his days on this cursed crust. It is this cosmic story that is played out in microcosm with Judah.

The story of the Rechabites recalibrates our consciences according to truth so that we see obedience for the virtue that it is. If the Rechabites obeyed a fallible earthly father, should we not listen to our infallible heavenly Lord? Jonadab spoke and died. Our Lord lives and speaks. Jonadab offered a probability of wisdom should they obey. The Lord speaks sure and certain promises should we obey.

But rather than obey God, whose law is true and whose promises are sure, we turn to do our shopping from shady pop-ups making lifetime guarantees but which only deliver fall-apart knockoffs made in China. We not only ignore God’s commands, we ignore His promises. Or, perhaps we think we can disregard his commands and still gain the promises. Worse yet, like Eve, we think we can get even more than God has promised by disobedience. How foolish of us to trust the hiss of the serpent and disbelieve the roar of the Lion. It is God we should fear and God we should trust. 

Obedience is true, because He is true. Obedience is good, because He is good. Obedience is beautiful, because He is beautiful.

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 35:1–19 || Listen And Obey || Josh King

Using the Right Hammer Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Smack Your Thumb (Jeremiah 33:1–22)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3)

A critical rule in Biblical hermeneutics (the art of interpreting a text), is that Scripture interprets Scripture. But there is a perversion of this rule that can go horridly wrong. When one uses a bad interpretation of one Scripture to interpret another two negatives don’t make a positive. Interpretation works more like addition than multiplication here. Applying a good rule poorly doesn’t fix or justify incompetence. Using the right tool is not the same as using the tool rightly.

hammer-1629587_1280.jpgIf one is assembling a table from Ikea, misidentifying one piece may lead to misidentifying another. The first instance may seem to work, and so you’re oblivious that anything is amiss. With the second part you may recognize a problem. Hammering harder isn’t the solution; repentance, that is, disassembling and starting over is. But sometimes a man is so deep in and his pride so great, that hammer away we do.

A self-intoxicated interpretation of Jeremiah 29:11 is bad enough, but mix it with Jeremiah 33:3, and you’ve got some stout poison. “God has great plans for you. Call out to Him and He will reveal them.” Now a mystical element has been added. In the first, you make God to be your concierge. In the second, you become a prophet. This is why, unlike the prophets of old, all the revelation you “receive” from God centers on you. These hidden things are indeed identical to the future and hope of Jeremiah 29, the problem is, when A = B, if A ≠ 2, though you say it does, then B ≠ 2 either. Erase your work. Start over.

Deuteronomy 29:11 tells us that the secret things belong to God, whereas the revealed things belong to the people fo God that they may do them. John is worried about whether he should marry Jill or Jane, so he cries out to God. But what John should worry about are the revealed things. If neither Jill nor Jane is a Christian, or if he is dating them both at the same time, then it is not marriage, but repentance that is God’s will. No mystical speculation is needed. Obedience is. God has shouted in His word, but we’re crying out for whispers.

Sometimes what is hidden is revealed. Sometimes God makes his plans known. But such revelation concerns the major plot line, not minor characters like ourselves, at least not directly. Rather than the shout, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” we’d rather hear a whisper about what career would be most fulfilling and blessed.

The great and hidden things here concern revelation. They concern the redemption and restoration of God’s people. They concern the righteous Branch springing up from David. They concern the “coming days.” They concern the new covenant. These hidden things are the mystery that Paul says has not been revealed to the church (Ephesians 3:1–12; Colossians 1:25–27; 2:2–3).

God’s revelation is always mediated. He raises up apostles and prophets. But we want God to speak to us and about us. God, in mercy, speaks far better. He spoke to the prophets and the apostles about Jesus for us.

The proper appropriation of the command given to Jeremiah then is secondary and derivative. It isn’t unmediated revelation of great and hidden things that we should seek, but illumination of the prophetic and apostolic word—the mystery that has reached its fulfillment in Christ.

“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:7–16).

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 33:1–26 || Great and Hidden Things in the Righteous Branch || Josh King

When God Flips Creation (Jeremiah 32:1–44)

 “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. 12 And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13 I charged Baruch in their presence, saying, 14 ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. 15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’ —Jeremiah 32:9–15

The Book of Consolation is like the one great win in a season that otherwise seems a total wash. There have been some great plays, some scattered promises here and there, but here is their solitary “W.” Chapter 32 opens the second half of this four quarter game, and like the first chapter (chapter 30), though immediate judgment is confirmed, still final restoration is promised. They’re going to take some devastating hits, but they shouldn’t doubt they’ll come out ahead in the end.

In the second half, the approach changes. We move from poetry to prose, and in that prose we have a narrative concerning another sign-act. What is a sign-act? Let’s review. In chapter 13 Jeremiah was commanded to purchase a linen loincloth and make a long journey (somewhere in the ballpark of 600 miles) to the Euphrates and bury it there. Likely he then returned home only to sometime later be told to go back and retrieve the loincloth. We won’t take the time to rehearse the meaning of this sign-act, but suffice it to say it spoke of Judah’s judgment and it was a costly act for Jeremiah and thus acted like a bullhorn, magnifying his message. In chapter 16 Jeremiah was forbidden a family. Again, this was a costly act and one that foretold judgment. In Chapter 19, Jeremiah was to purchase a clay pot and smash it. While not as costly as some of the other acts, this was far from a great investment and again foretold judgment. Most recently, in chapters 27–28, Jeremiah makes yoke bars, only for the false prophet Hananiah to take them from his neck and break them. Jeremiah made his craft project and brought it to show and tell where a bully breaks it so that he has nothing to bring home.

As we are now in the Book of Consolation, you may well expect the sign-act not to speak of judgment, but of grace. Indeed it does. And so, instead of this act resulting in a personal loss for Jeremiah, you might expect some gain. Instead, this sign act appears to be his worst investment yet. Jeremiah receives insider trading advise, but it doesn’t play out how you’d expect. It’d been one thing if Jeremiah had been told to buy some property in and around Babylon at the beginning of his ministry. Instead he’s purchasing property in Judah on the eve of her destruction. This is like investing in a French Chateau in 1940 when the German Blitzkrieg has already breached the Maginot Line.

house-2169650_1280The plot of land is in enemy occupied territory. Jeremiah is in jail. He has preached the fall of Judah and a seventy year exile to follow. He has no family or offspring to inherit the land. All this is clearly on the table when Hanamel seemingly comes insisting Jeremiah redeem the land. Hanamel strikes one as that cousin that comes to the funeral to sell Amway. Family reunions to him are a business opportunity. In this, God’s hot tip isn’t “Be on your guard. Get ready. Don’t fall for it.” but instead, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

Our puzzlement betrays our American eyes. The point of acting as a redeemer wasn’t to benefit you personally, but to honor Yahweh who allotted the land by family and love your kin so that they keep an inheritance in Israel (Leviticus 25:23–28). Jeremiah’s obedience to the covenant law is a sign that God is not through with His people. He is their Redeemer. Because God won’t pull up short on His promises, we need not pull short on obedience. Righteousness doesn’t always make sense as an investment in this life, but if you live unto God, this is not your concern. It isn’t short term temporal gain, but long term eternal reward that is your aim.

Jeremiah here made the best deal ever, not because of what he got on this earth, but because of what God promised in the next. As Derek Kidner comments, “Seventeen shekels of silver were surely never better spent.”

Meridian Church · Jeremian 32:1–44 || Redemption of the Land || Josh King

Behold! Days Are Coming! (Jeremiah 31:27–40)

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“Behold, the days are coming…

Behold the days are coming…

Behold the days are coming…”

—Jeremiah 31:27, 31, 38

Saints, behold, days are coming. Days are coming when Yahweh “will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast,” (v. 27). Days are coming when Yahweh “will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” (v. 31). Days are coming when “the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD,” (v. 38). These days are the focus of what is called “The Book of Consolation” (running from Jeremiah 30–33). The Book of Consolation is a bright star in the dark night of Judah’s judgment. Jeremiah has long warned Judah of the darkness of exile, but here, he tells them that they do not go into exile without a light of hope.

The same key phrase introduces the book in 30:3: “For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” Later in our text, the same hope is expressed with the phrases, “it shall come to pass” (v. 28), and “in those days,” (v. 29). Jeremiah 30:24, after speaking of the fierce judgment that is soon to break upon them, promises, “In the latter days you will understand this.” In Jeremiah 31:1 we read, “At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.” In 31:6 God tells them, “For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God’ ” (all emphasis mine). These coming days are the fulfillment of that frequently mutilated promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This future, this hope, is so much more epic than what many make of it.

These days, all these promises of restoration, the fullness of the consolation held out for the people of God—all this is to be realized in the Christ, God’s king, the Son of David.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (30:8–9; emphasis mine).

Though “The Book of Consolation” is theologian speak, a label invented by men for this distinct portion of Scripture, it is a near perfect one, for these promises and the comfort extended therein are exactly what Simeon looked forward to.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:25–32; emphasis mine).

So then, these days have come and they are coming. They are here now, but not fully here yet. The eschatological promises were inaugurated with the first advent of Christ and will be consummated at His second advent. This age is fading away, and the age to come is breaking into the present. John Mackay opens commentary on this passage writing, “The clause begins with ‘Behold!’ … , probably to emphasize the reality and imminence of what is being talked about. The significance of the time reference in this phrase is much debated, but it seems to point to a future scene, the precise time of which is not revealed, but which is certain because the coming events are already rising out of present circumstances (30:3). What will happen will be a development of factors that are already at work. Therefore those who by faith accept the divine analysis of the situation can be confident that what is foretold will come to pass.”

Judah could be sure of these future promises because of how they arise out of the present. If Judah could be confident and take comfort in these promises, as they saw them arising out of God’s present doings, how much more may we?

Because these days have come, we may be certain they will come. The Christ was born the Second Adam. The Christ lived to be our righteousness. The Christ died bearing our sins. The Christ rose conquering our foes. The Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father with all things being put under His feet. The Christ will certainly come again. Oh how much of the comfort promised here has already come in part and so how much more may we take comfort that the fullness certainly lies ahead? Oh saints, let us now with the eyes of faith behold! days are coming!

Meridian Church · 7.5.20 Jeremiah 31.27–40 Days Are Coming Josh King