Restoration vs. Reconstruction (Jeremiah 30:1–24)

rome-974294_1920

“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” (Jeremiah 30:8–9).

I’m no Rushdoony Reconstructionist, nor a Bahnsen Theonomist but I do believe the law of God informs the Christian concerning justice and truth. It tells us, with absolute authority, what to advocate for and what to protest against. Still, and here’s the kicker, the cultural mandate is a mandate, not a promise. So, if you’ve got a few of those fancy five dollar theology words in your back pocket, you might venture I’m not a postmillennialist. Roger that. But don’t then libel me a pessi-millennialist. I am opti-millennialist. I am optimistic; fully believing that the kingdom has broken in and will fully come. This age is fading away like a mist. The age to come is raining down and a deluge is coming. God will gather every soul which the blood of Christ has ransomed and not lose one. His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea and His praises will be sung in every language. Nothing happens but that which advances His kingdom according to His plan. Our God never sounds retreat. His strategies may confound us, but we privates shouldn’t doubt the strategy of the general. After all, He did deal the deceive blow by clothing Himself in weakness and dying on the cross. In other words, I’m not optimistic about man’s obedience to the cultural mandate. I’m optimistic concerning the church’s obedience to the great commission, though not because of the church herself, but because all authority has been given to Christ who has promised to be with her.

This world is a Babylon and it is doomed. Whist we remain, let us seek her welfare, for in it, we will find our own. Our hope is not in a Babylon built up, but torn down. Our hope is not in Babylon redeemed, but destroyed. Our hope is not Babylon lifted up, but Jerusalem coming down (Jeremiah 29:10).

When the bonds of Babylon are burst, we then serve Yahweh our God and the Son of David, our King, whom He has raised up for us. These burst bonds do not result in any Bolshevik Revolution. The tyranny of the one is not to be replaced with the anarchy of the many. Neither is the hope a democratic republic founded on God’s law. No, the hope Jeremiah speaks of is a monarchial theocracy. Our hope is neither that of Animal Farm, nor Manor Farm, but of Narnia. As Trufflehunter explained to the irascible Nikabrik,

“I’m a beast, I am, and a Badger what’s more. We don’t change. We hold on. I say great good will come of it. This is the true King of Narnia we’ve got here: a true King, coming back to true Narnia. And we beasts remember, even if Dwarfs forget, that Narnia was never right except when a son of Adam was King.”

Yes, our King sits at the right hand of the Father ruling the nations, but things will not be made fully right until those nations are ultimately broken with a rod of iron, Zion descends, and His throne is manifestly established on earth. Then, things will be put to right. Then, all will be restored. This mountain is built, not by the nations, but on top of their crushed rubble. Our part is to be faithful to God’s law within the city of man, preaching His gospel, our hope—the gospel of Christ and the city of God ruled by His King.

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 30:1–24 || Restoration || Josh King

Drinking out of the Mug Auntie Gertrude Bought You (Jeremiah 29:1–32)

71bZP4JW7tL._AC_SL1200_
Would you buy one?

What is that thing that you like or want to like, but you can’t admit it because you know that person likes it? This isn’t the same thing as a guilty pleasure. There, the thing itself embarrasses you; like a dude admitting he enjoys the music of a particular boy band. What I’m speaking of is shame felt because of who or what is associated with the thing. It isn’t that you like the boy band; it’s that you don’t want to like the thing that the boy band likes. Or, perhaps you’d like to buy a certain product, but you don’t, not because of the product itself, but because liberals are known for endorsing it.

Say you are in a small group and folks are mentioning passages that are dear to them. No one wants to say Psalm 23 because everybody knows and loves that one. No one picks that one because they want to be unique and original. That is one kind of sin. I’m aiming at another. The exact same reasoning might happen with Jeremiah 29:11 if you were in a prosperity gospel preaching church. Frequent flyers over these skies probably don’t visit such destinations. Still, Jeremiah 29:11 will go unmentioned because it is so associated with that movement. In the first instance, when you mention Psalm 23, people may think, “He said that because it’s the only [eye roll] passage he knows.” In the second instance, when you mention Jeremiah 29:11, people suspect you’re a heretic.

Prosperity gospel preachers are guilty of ignoring huge chunks of the Bible. Though less dangerous, let us not ignore the few—oh the very few—that they have picked up as if they are guilty by association. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, even the parts that those guys seem to really like. How clever of the enemy: if he cannot get you to forfeit the truth for love of a lie, he may get you to forfeit the truth for fear of the lie.

And thus we have distanced ourselves from this promise. Some have tried to justify the distance by arguing that this text has nothing to do with us. But is this so? This kind of relegating of Old Testament promises to the wastebasket smells dispy-ish. The specifics of the promise do sound very Jewish and ancient. “It happened to them; it happened back then,” so we reason. Yes, but did it fully happen?

This chapter transitions from false prophets to true promises. Chapters 26–29 record a number of showdowns between Jeremiah and the false prophets. In stark contrast, Chapters 30–33 are known as the “Book of Consolation.” Here, some of the sweetest promises in all of Scripture are recorded, the very “plans” Jeremiah is speaking of. What are these plans? The apex of them is spoken of as a “new covenant” or “everlasting covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31–34; 32:36–41). Do these verses have anything to do with you? The author of Hebrews thinks so (Hebrews 8–9). Read all the promises of restoration held out here and see if the new covenant is not what ties them all up with a bow.

So then, when you’re afraid to drink out of that coffee mug with Jeremiah 29:11 printed on it that your auntie Gertrude gifted you, know that you already drink of the cup of Jeremiah 29:11. It is the cup of the new covenant of Christ’s blood poured out for the forgiveness of your sin.

The exiles who returned to Jerusalem only came to the hills of this promise. We have come to the heavenly Zion. We have come to the mountain, but yet, we are only at the base. And so it is that we look back, or should, to the shadows cast by this mountain, so that we might better know the peak that awaits us in Christ. Jesus is gathering the exiles from all over the earth. They are His people. He is their God. He has redeemed us out of captivity and He will restore all that was lost by sin and its curse. He will bring us home where He will dwell in our midst forevermore. This is our hope. This is our future. This is His plan.

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 29:1–32 || True Promises And False Prophets || Josh King

Reading Backwards for Greater Comprehension (Exodus 2:1–25)

The immediate audience Moses intended Exodus for wasn’t reading it blind. They experienced the events blind, but now, through this narrative, they are allowed to revisit their recent history and see things as they really were. Like reading a great novel a second time, they’re able to see images, metaphors, symbols, and foreshadowing they missed because now they know the ending. “The providence of God,” says John Flavel, “is like Hebrew words—it can only be read backwards.”

The people of Israel are crying out to God for deliverance. God has already raised up the deliverer, from the Levites, who will act as their mediator, and though whom they will receive instructions concerning a tent. Israel will be delivered from the bondage of building store cities for Pharaoh, to the freedom of building a tabernacle for God, with the spoils of His victory, so that He as their king might dwell in their midst.

By faith, we read this story not only looking back, but looking forward. The true and better Moses has come. He has defeated the serpent tyrant and released us from our bitter bondage to sin and death. We’re sojourners, but, we can be sure that He will lead us all the way home. We know the ending, but one day, when this present age is past, we’ll read backwards with even greater clarity and see that God never forgot His covenant and we will ask our Father to tell the story again and again.

The Penning Pastor: That Faint Light Is One of Dawn, not Dusk

The day is now breaking: how beautiful its appearance! how welcome the expectation of the approaching sun! It is this thought makes the dawn agreeable, that it is the presage of a brighter light; otherwise, if we expect no more day than it is this minute, we should rather complain of darkness, than rejoice in the early beauties of the morning. Thus the life of grace is the dawn of immortality: beautiful beyond expression, if compared with the night and thick darkness which formerly covered us; yet faint, indistinct, and unsatisfying, in comparison of the glory which shall be revealed.

It is, however, a sure earnest: so surely as we now see the light of the Sun of Righteousness, so surely shall we see the Sun himself, Jesus the Lord, in all his glory and lustre. In the mean time, we have reason to be thankful for a measure of light to walk and work by, and sufficient to shew us the pits and snares by which we might be endangered: and we have a promise, that our present light shall grow stronger and stronger, if we are diligent in the use of the appointed means, till the messenger of Jesus shall lead us within the vail, and then farewell shades and obscurity forever. —John Owen, Works Vol. 1