What I’m Thinking: New Message

When times were most grim, the prophet Jeremiah (yes, that Jeremiah) changed his message to one of hope.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the thirty-first chapter of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Jesus’ ministry as described in the gospels lasted for about three years. The work of the Apostle Paul went on substantially longer than that, but his letters appear to have been written in a much shorter period of time, say over five, maybe ten years. The book of Jeremiah, however, contains writings and speeches of the prophet from near the very beginning of his ministry as a young man (he called himself a boy) to the end of his career some four, five, maybe six decades later.

During that time, much of Jeremiah’s message remained consistent. Follow the ways of God, he said. Follow the ways of God. But other parts of his message shifted in response to the times. As a young man, he was extraordinarily optimistic. In middle age, confronted with the… confronted with the refusal of leaders both civil and religious to follow the ways of God on which Jeremiah insisted, he became increasingly depressed, upset, and indeed downright pessimistic.

At one point his message shifted from, “If you do not repent, then God will withdraw from this covenant,” to “You have not repented, and God will not protect you any more.”

Jeremiah’s career included the great disaster: the conquering of the nation of Judah, the overthrowing the nation, the king, and the destruction of Solomon’s temple. In chapter 31, we seem to have some of what Jeremiah said in the wake of that catastrophe. And it was this:

“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors… a covenant that they broke… But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

This is a message of extraordinary optimism, a vision of profound wonder, such a shift from the Jeremiah we find throughout the rest of the book that indeed some have speculated that it comes from another hand. Personally, I think this is Jeremiah. In the midst of what others considered to be the success and prosperity of the nation Jeremiah saw the weakness. When the weaknesses were brutally exposed, Jeremiah saw once more to the foundations of that nation’s strength: their deep and abiding relationship with God, a God whose faithfulness was greater than theirs.

So friends, in our situations, whether we think we are at the pinnacle of success and power, or whether we have been broken down to bedrock, know this: that the faithfulness of God always is greater than our own, and we have never ever been abandoned whether we were at the top or at the bottom of our lives.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on March 15, 2021

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