Reading through Jeremiah can often draw most of our focus to the inevitable judgement that God is to bring on Israel because of their sinful ways. But interspersed within the words from God to Jeremiah, we also get to see aspects of God and His heart for His people.
The most apparent is that we get to see a God who does not ignore sin, that there is a reality to sin and there is a price to pay for it.
We don’t have to venture far from the beginning of scripture (Genesis 3) to know that man has fallen short and sinned and therefore separated from God. Scripture says we will be held accountable for all our actions and that there is eternal consequence to our sin. But God in His great mercy made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.
God took upon Himself the ultimate price to make a way for us to be saved – through the blood of Jesus.
In light of the ultimate price Jesus paid for us, how should we live – as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Living a life that is reflective of Him that brings Him glory comes with a price to pay in the now and that is sacrificing our earthly/fleshly desires so that there can be more of God and less of ourselves within us. We often want to theoretically be living sacrifices but when it comes time to translate that into reality, comfort/self often wins.
How do we live such lives? It starts with a purposeful pursuit of God, not neglecting His word and time sitting at His feet. This pursuit of Him will then pour into all areas of our life. God renews us from within, the work that He does in us is a change that begins from within and is reflected in the fruit that can be seen by all.
But we also know that even though our faith is placed in Him we are not without sin. 1 John 4:8 says that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
As God’s children, some of the consequences we experience is discipline designed to guide us back with God. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10)
We also get to see God who is not obscure with what He expects of the people.
In Jeremiah 16 we read God say that when the people ask you (Jeremiah) why God has decreed such a disaster on us, what wrong have we done? It was because they forsook Him, followed, served and worshipped other gods. We see God repeatedly point out the specific reason behind his decision. He does not want the people to assume it as coincidence or just bad luck. What they endure will be because His favour is no longer upon them (Jeremiah 16:13).
With clarity we know the way to be restored to God, Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Scripture also says that we cannot serve two masters (Mathew 6:24). The Israelites went after other gods.
What are we in pursuit of? What are we bending the knee to when it comes to our worship? We worship that which we regard and believe in, is that money, work, your assets, your image. What in your life comes before God?
Psalm 119:2b says “Blessed are they who seek Him with all their heart”
When we are truly seeking Him with all our heart, our hearts are aligned to Him and so are our desires. That genuine seeking of God, causes our desires, delight and pursuit to be nothing else but God. Everything else finds it right position and perspective in our life.
We also get to see a persistent God, who does not give up on those that He calls His.
God has been speaking to the Israelites since their fathers turned away from Him. In Jeremiah 16:11 God says, “your fathers forsook me” and God continues to say in verse 12 “But you have behaved more wickedly than your fathers. See how each of you is following the stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying me.”
He does not give up on you and me because we have been struggling with sin in our lives. If we look at Peter, at his moment of fear and weakness, he denied Jesus. Did Jesus give up on Him – No, He did not and He is the same with us.
When we are not walking right with God, we can harbour the notion that God’s ardour for us cools down a bit. But in truth it does not. We move away from Him when we sin, so we do not feel His intimacy as we should. Just like the prodigal son, who was not sure how the father would respond when he turned back to Him, after all the son was disconnected from the father and therefore could not sense and feel the fathers love for him. The same way for us. How does the father respond? He does not just put up with the son upon his return, he runs to Him, embraces him and restores him to his rightful place as his child. What a picture of grace, forgiveness and love. That is who God is – let not guilt or shame keep you from turning to God. He is calling you.
We see a God who is faithful even when His people repeatedly falter in following Him. Interspersed with the consequence of the sin is the promise of their restoration (Jeremiah 16:15).
Just as the people of Israel had other things that drew their focus and worship from God, there are many distractions for us that tempt us to turn our back to God. And when I say turn, we might not necessarily entirely turn from Him but there might be aspects of our life that we have kept turned away from God, kept from entirely surrendering to Him. Those areas, that even when His voice calls us or convicts us, we remain stubborn and turned away.
By doing so, we are keeping His light from shining in those areas. Turn to Him, face Him entirely, let His light shine on every area of your life and through you to others. Let us leave no room for the enemy’s darkness to harbour but let us give it all to God.
God is where our hope is found. His voice is calling you to accept Him, to submit to Him, to lay your burdens on Him. Follow Him with delight, purpose, obedience and a servant heart.