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Day of Disaster April 2, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jeremiah 16:1-17:18.

Summary: In this passage, God commands Jeremiah to refrain from marrying – and bearing children – as He will cause His people to perish via plague, famine and sword. Moreover, He will not allow anyone to mourn their deaths or bury them. Indeed, He will cause their land to be bereft of all joy and gladness, and all who remain will be exiled.

God declares that this punishment stems from their forsaking Him and worshiping other gods. This punishment will display the glory of His name to them.

He then draws a contrast between those who trust in other gods and those who trust in Him – stating that the latter group will be blessed. Since Jeremiah trusts in Him, he calls on Him for deliverance from those who oppose his prophetic ministry.

Thoughts: In verses 1 and 2 of chapter 16, we see that God commands Jeremiah to refrain from marriage and childbearing. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

This is a new discourse, not unlike many others, except that the prophet is commanded not to marry or have any children in that land. The instruction against marriage was full of meaning. It was to show that the people were wholly given up to destruction.

When I meet Jeremiah in the next life, I plan to query him on this point. Had Jeremiah contemplated the prospect of marriage before he heard God’s commandment in this passage? Was he actually betrothed to anyone at that time? Did he wrestle with God after receiving His commandment, asking Him for mercy on this point? Did he inform his family of this commandment, and if so, how did they respond to it? When did he comprehend God’s higher purposes for him?

In verse 10 of chapter 16, we see that the people of Judah responded with incredulity to Jeremiah’s dire prophecies. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

God shows here that the people indulged themselves so much in their vices that nothing could make them repent. It was great blindness, even madness, not to examine themselves when they were struck by God’s hand.

As a modern-day believer, I readily fall into the trap of condemning the people of Judah and wondering, “how could they be so ignorant regarding their sins? Didn’t they know that child sacrifice, deception and idol worship deeply offended God?” Yet I should remember the context of this passage. The spiritual state of the people of Judah was tied to that of their sovereign – and King Manasseh had revived these vices in their land. While they may have initially recoiled at these sins, they eventually became inured to them. We should consider any parallels between our society and that of Judah at that time. We should identify our modern-day vices, using Scripture as our guide, and view them as abhorrent and repulsive.

In verses 5-8 of chapter 17, we see that God contrasts the fortunes of those who do not trust in Him and those who do trust in Him. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verses 7 and 8:

The prophet points out the difference between God’s true servants, who trust in him, and those who are inflated with their own false imaginations, so that they seek refuge either in themselves or in others. The faithful are like trees planted by water, sending their roots out to the river. God’s servants are planted, as it were, in a moist soil, irrigated continually by streams of water.

This passage reminded me of Psalm 1 and its declaration that God will bless the one who trusts in Him. One thought on this point is that a genuine trust in God is displayed during trials – when one is confronted with the following questions:

  • should they approach the difficulty at hand by placing their trust in God?
  • should they ignore God and attempt to solve their problem entirely on their own?

This is why I found the reference to “a year of drought” in verse 8 to be apt. Trials are inherent to this life, and as believers, we must ask ourselves: how will we respond to them? Will we still be able to bear fruit, or will we wither and grow spiritually useless? Clearly we need God’s strength and wisdom to remain fruitful at those times.

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