Is there any Word from the Lord? (Jeremiah 37-40)

Jeremiah

37:1-21  –  ‘Is there any Word from the Lord?’ – ‘Yes! There is a Word from the Lord’. The Word from the Lord wasn’t exactly what the king wanted to hear – ‘You will be handed over to the king of Babylon’ (17). God was going to bless His people – but they would have to be patient: Things were going to get an awful lot worse before they would get much better! Before their restoration – “I will bring them back and restore them to this place’ – , God’s people faced captivity – ‘They will be taken to Babylon’. There was bad news – a captivity of  ‘seventy years’. There was good news – the captivity wouldn’t last forever  (27:22; 29:10-11)! God speaks of His blessing – ‘It will certainly come’ – , but He also says, ‘Wait for it’ (Habakkuk 2:3). Let’s listen to all that He says to us – and not ‘only hear what we want to hear’!

38:1-28  –  ‘No Surrender’ – Was this the way forward for God’s people? ‘No Surrender’ – What would happen if God’s people adopted this attitude? Jeremiah speaks God’s Word to the people. He calls them to make their choice. They can ‘surrender’ and ‘live’. They can say, ‘No Surrender’ – and face certain death  (17-18). Captivity in Babylon would not be easy. They would be heartbroken as they recalled happier times – ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion’. It would be so difficult to keep on praising the Lord – ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ (Psalm 137:1,4). Life in Babylon would be difficult – but ‘it would not be the end of the world’! They could still look forward to the fulfilment of God’s ‘gracious promise’: ‘I will come to you and bring you back to this place’ (29:10).

39:1-18  –  You can take the man out of Babylon, but you can’t take Babylon out of the man! We may have never set foot in the ancient city of Babylon, but we know all about the spirit of Babylon! ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt’ (17:9) – This is the spirit of Babylon, ‘the spirit of disobedience’, the spirit which is ‘at work’ in every one of us: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Ephesians 2:2; Romans 3:23). Is there any hope for us? We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (13:23). We can be changed by God. To those who ‘trust’ in Him, the Lord says, ‘I will save you’ (18). God wants to bless you. Put your trust in Him. Let His blessing flow into your heart (17:7).

40:1-16  –  ‘The Lord your God pronounced this evil against this place; the Lord has brought it about, and has done as He said. Because you sinned against the Lord, and did not obey His voice, this thing has come upon you’ (3). We hear a great deal today about ‘the feel good factor’. People need to get a good feeling: ‘Give them a pat on the back. Make them feel good about themselves’. There’s not much of a ‘feel good factor’ in Jeremiah’s preaching! The people must have been wondering, ‘Where did they dig him up from? He has nothing good to say about anyone or anything’. We must rise above the sarcasm of those who have no time for the Word of the Lord. We must ask, ‘Where did Jeremiah’s message really come from?’. This is what the Word of the Lord says: ‘The Word came to Jeremiah from the Lord’ (1).

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