Reading through Jeremiah can often draw most of our focus to the inevitable judgement that God is to bring on Judah 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.
- We see a God who does not ignore sin.
We are sinful by nature. 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 reminds us that we will be held accountable for our actions. And our choices do bear an eternal consequence. 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? Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to live as living sacrifices. Living a life that reflects Christ and brings Him glory comes with a price to pay in the now, which is sacrificing our earthly/fleshly desires so that there can be more of God and less of ourselves within us.
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).
2. Merciful God
We see in Jeremiah 16, the prophet having to hear from God to remain unwed and childless.
Jer 16:1-2 “Then the word of the Lord came to me “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.”
The reason for this command is simple: God is sparing Jeremiah from another decree God has made. Since all the sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers will die a grievous death. Sometimes, God withholds things from His people not to deny a desire but to spare them from a sorrow that would come about if they had that thing in their lives. God knows what is best for us. When God says no, then He has a very sound reason for declining the request.
If we suppose that like most others, Jeremiah had the desire in Him to be wed and enjoy the blessings of both marriage and parenthood, yet it was a sacrifice he was called to make in light of the call of God on His life.
We often want to live out what Romans 12:1 tells us to, as living sacrifices but when it comes time to translate that into reality, often comfort/self wins.
So, how do we live such lives? It begins with a purposeful pursuit of God, not neglecting His word and time sitting at His feet. This forms the crux of our pursuit of Him which then pours 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).
In verses 5 and 8 we also read God tell Jeremiah to refrain from joining the people in mourning or feasting. For Jeremiah, it would have felt like a self-imposed exile from his community, further adding to his lonely walk and also in some ways making it more difficult to be removed from people in such a way and yet want them to listen to His words. And probably also led to further angering some of the people against him.
Jeremiah had to let go of that which God commanded. He kept God’s will above His desires. God is merciful. God commanded Jeremiah to let go of a desire to spare him of future pain and heartache. With the people of Judah, God wanted the people to repent, and He would restore them, He loved the people but not their ways and Jeremiah had to live in their midst in just the same way. God loves the sinner but does not ignore sinful behaviour. In walking the righteous path, maybe we have to let go of something that God is asking us to, it may be difficult, but let not self-desires win resulting in putting distance between you and God.
3. 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). And the reason for the clarity is so that the people would repent.
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 with clarity also teaches us 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. Genuinely seeking God, causes our desires, delight and pursuit to be nothing else but God and everything else finds its right position and perspective.
4. A God who pursues
We get to see a 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.”
God does not give up on you or 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. In the story of the prodigal son, the son 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 it is for us, we do not sense our Heavenly Father’s love for us when we have moved away from Him. How does the prodigal son’s 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.
5. A Faithful God
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).
The people of Israel had other things that drew their focus and worship from God, similarly, there are many distractions for us that tempt us to turn our back to God. 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.