Day 143: The Grand Finale

Jeremiah 33:10-13

Yahweh says: “Yet again there will be heard in this place, about which you say, ‘It is waste, without man and without animal, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without animal,’ the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, ‘Give thanks to Yahweh of Armies, for Yahweh is good, for his loving kindness endures forever;’ who bring thanksgiving into Yahweh’s house. For I will cause the captivity of the land to be reversed as at the first,” says Yahweh.

Yahweh of Armies says: “Yet again there will be in this place, which is waste, without man and without animal, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the South, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, the flocks will again pass under the hands of him who counts them,” says Yahweh.

In the United States, we have Independence Day celebrations every year that include firework displays. These shows usually end with an unusual amount of fireworks going off all at the same time. We often call it “The Grand Finale.” When I read this chapter of Jeremiah, it seems like God’s Grand Finale about His intention to restore Israel to the land. He says it over, and over, and over again. If you compare each reminder to a rocket, it’s like they are exploding one after another in rapid succession.

Notice that both these statements say: “Yet again…” God is repeating over and over to Jeremiah while He’s in jail that things are going to be better. There will come a time when the Israelis are happy again and without concern. It’s obvious, as real rockets are launched into Israel today, that this day has not yet come. God also mentions the fact that they will be talking about bringing “thanksgiving into Yahweh’s house.” That can’t be Israel today because God’s house isn’t even there.

Those who say that God is finished with Israel today will have to deal with the Bible, though. Once again, it comes down to whether you are going to believe God or man. If you are going to believe man, why believe the Bible at all? There are plenty of other things that God says much fewer times in the Bible that you would have to reconsider if you are going to be consistent. The underlying issue is that if the Bible isn’t true about Israel, then it could be wrong about your everlasting life as a Christian. Thankfully, God repeats Himself in the Bible about Israel and our salvation. If we believe that we are saved, then the only consistent thing to do is to believe Israel will go on forever too. When we fight against the Bible in any area, we hurt ourselves and our witness to others.

If you are one of those Christians who believes that this is talking about the Church, then you are also calling your own salvation into question. If God is able to talk to Jeremiah, while he’s in jail about the Church, knowing that Jeremiah will believe that He’s talking about the Jews, couldn’t God do the same to you? Could it be that someone else will be saved and have eternal life other than you because God is only symbolically talking to you today? So you see, this is an important subject to us now and one that each Christian should settle in their minds.

Day 131: Our Heavenly Father

Jeremiah 31:7-14

For Yahweh says,
“Sing with gladness for Jacob,
and shout for the chief of the nations.
Publish, praise, and say,
‘Yahweh, save your people,
the remnant of Israel!’
Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth,
along with the blind and the lame,
the woman with child and her who travails with child together.
They will return as a great company.
They will come with weeping.
I will lead them with petitions.
I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters,
in a straight way in which they won’t stumble;
for I am a father to Israel.
Ephraim is my firstborn.

“Hear Yahweh’s word, you nations,
and declare it in the distant islands. Say,
‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock.’
For Yahweh has ransomed Jacob,
and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.
They will come and sing in the height of Zion,
and will flow to the goodness of Yahweh,
to the grain, to the new wine, to the oil,
and to the young of the flock and of the herd.
Their soul will be as a watered garden.
They will not sorrow any more at all.
Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance;
the young men and the old together;
for I will turn their mourning into joy,
and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness,
and my people will be satisfied with my goodness,” says Yahweh.

Modern secular culture has to ignore many obvious human needs in order to maintain its composure and one of those things is mankind’s need for hope. From an evolutionary perspective, mankind doesn’t really have a basis for hope because they believe that mankind was produced by accident. There’s no reason to believe that mankind’s existence at the top of the food chain will remain. The same accidents that produced man could also produce something else in the future. There’s no reason to think that some other thing won’t become more fit for survival in the future. This kind of nonsense is not found in the Bible, of course. Instead, what we find are things like we read here.

The truth of the matter is that God is the Creator and His decisions are all that is required to make things happen. We have been reading about the fact that God intended to make terrible things happen to Israel because they had chosen to walk away from Him, but at the same time, He said things like this. He makes it clear to Israel that He intends to bring them back in the future. Not only will He bring them back, they are to enjoy prosperity, peace and joy. Even before He sends them into captivity, He makes this clear. This message inserts something precious into their minds. Whenever they consider the horrible situation that God forced them into, they will also have the memory that this same God will force them back into their own land and “they will not sorrow any more at all.” That’s what I call: hope technology. God wasn’t intending to simply torment His people. He intended to save them.

Not only is mankind not the product of a series of accidents, they were created by a Father. Israel is a glorious example to Gentiles like us. A father doesn’t torture His children. His intent in punishing them is to make them thrive as he removes error from their lives and sets them up for the future. What we see in this example is God saying: “I am a father to Israel.” He then goes on to explain their final end. Israel’s Father has dedicated Himself to their success and that’s exactly what they will have. As Christians we have this same Father. When Jesus taught us to pray by saying: “Our father who is in heaven…”, He said that we should start by remembering this fact. We go through a lot of problems in our lives too, but we can count on the fact that our Father is dedicated to our success just like He shows us with Israel.

Day 102: Yahweh Our Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:1-6

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says Yahweh. Therefore Yahweh, the God of Israel, says against the shepherds who feed my people: “You have scattered my flock, driven them away, and have not visited them. Behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings,” says Yahweh. “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will set up shepherds over them, who will feed them. They will no longer be afraid or dismayed, neither will any be lacking,” says Yahweh.
“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh,
“that I will raise to David a righteous Branch,
and he will reign as king and deal wisely,
and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved,
and Israel will dwell safely.
This is his name by which he will be called:
Yahweh our righteousness.

After God proclaims one of the most troubling curses in all of history, He immediately affirms the fact that a day will come in which a “righteous Branch” of David will come and save all of Israel and Judah. Even though it was unlikely that anyone understood how God could do it, He still promised to do it. Lets look at where God places blame.

God pronounces a “woe” on the “shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep” of His pasture. If you want to learn what it means to receive a “woe” from God, read the book of Revelation. This book of Jeremiah has done a pretty good job of explaining it too. Woes from God are what we might call times of “hell on earth.” When God says this, the people responsible have done something very grievous. Remember what has been going on in Judah at this time. There were false prophets speaking against Jeremiah as well as rebellious kings who were teaching the people that it was Ok to practice idolatry. These “shepherds” were actually scattering the sheep instead of tending to them. Lions and bears are the ones that scatter the sheep. These leaders were acting like enemies. When a shepherd consumes the sheep that God intended for him to care for, it makes Him very angry. I’m not sure that I can adequately express the amount of anger God has in this situation and I don’t really have to. All you have to do is look at the destruction that resulted from this behavior.

In God’s anger, He pronounced mercy. This is something that clearly separates God from man. He, in His wrath, still brought mercy and here we learn more about His plan to do it. Even before God began his “woe” on Judah, God pronounced His intention to solve the problem forever by sending Jesus. God intended to save Israel, not to destroy her. The day would come when Jesus would rule on David’s throne on earth. This hasn’t actually happened yet. Israel is still seeking a leader that will bring peace and true safety from her enemies. As Christians, God has shown us the way already, though. God sent His son to die for the sins of the whole world by becoming righteousness for us and because of this we already call Him: “Yahweh our righteousness”.