Jeremiah 2:1-30; Philippians 4:8-23; Psalms 76:1-7; Proverbs 18:16-18
OT: “The word of the Lord came to me: “Go and announce directly to Jerusalem that this is what the Lord says: I remember the loyalty of your youth, your love as a bride — how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it found themselves guilty; disaster came on them.” This is the Lord’s declaration. Hear the word of the Lord, house of Jacob and all families of the house of Israel. This is what the Lord says: What fault did your ancestors find in me that they went so far from me, followed worthless idols, and became worthless themselves? They stopped asking, “Where is the Lord who brought us from the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, through a land of drought and darkness, a land no one traveled through and where no one lived?” I brought you to a fertile land to eat its fruit and bounty, but after you entered, you defiled my land; you made my inheritance detestable. The priests quit asking, “Where is the Lord?” The experts in the law no longer knew me, and the rulers rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal and followed useless idols. Therefore, I will bring a case against you again. This is the Lord’s declaration… I will bring a case against your children’s children. For my people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves — cracked cisterns that cannot hold water… Your own evil will discipline you; your own apostasies will reprimand you. Recognize how evil and bitter it is for you to abandon the Lord your God and to have no fear of me. This is the declaration of the Lord God of Armies… Even if you wash with lye and use a great amount of bleach, the stain of your iniquity is still in front of me. This is the Lord God’s declaration.” (Jeremiah 2:1-9, 13, 19, 22 CSB)
As we consider God with His complete and perfect omniscience and omnipresence, it is difficult to consider that we could do anything that would cause Him sadness and grief. How could God be saddened and grieved by our behavior if He knows all and sees all even before it happens… wouldn’t He be emotionally prepared and have the ability to rise above pain and grief? Of course, we don’t have any problems seeing God as angry with our choices, but sad and grieved can be a bit of a stretch.
As I read these words that God spoke to the nation of Judah through the prophet Jeremiah, what I saw in God’s declaration – more than anger – was deep sadness, grief and disappointment. God had cut covenant with the nation of Israel, just as a husband cuts covenant with his wife. Despite all the goodness that God had shown His “bride,” Israel rejected Him and became unfaithful. Sure – unfaithfulness causes anger… but more than anything, the rejection of unfaithfulness causes hurt and grief.
God had redeemed Israel from bondage in Egypt. He miraculously rescued them from the hand of the Egyptian army. He sustained them for through forty years of wandering in the desert – despite their groaning and complaining. He delivered them from all their enemies and empowered them to victoriously conquer and dwell in the land of promise. Not once did God wane from His faithfulness to His “bride.” Yet, when circumstances began to look challenging, instead of relying on the covenant-keeping, one hundred percent faithful God, the set-apart people of God ran after the carved wooden images of the land to save them. Instead of seeking God for His wisdom and leadership, they started relying on their own limited understanding. Instead of trusting God to provide for them, as He had always done, they turned their backs on His provision to meagerly attempt to provide for themselves. Because they rejected God and removed themselves from His provision and protection, God informed them that they would be disciplined by their own evil and reprimanded by their own apostasy.
If God was grieved that much by an unregenerate nation that had not experienced the salvation of the cross, how much more can we, who have been declared righteous through faith and reborn with a new nature in Christ, sadden and grieve the Holy Spirit within us by choosing to reject God’s ways and forge our own path? God, in His great love for us, sent His Son to give His life to redeem us from the ravages of sin and reconstitute our lives to live righteously in Him. God, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit has given us everything that we need to live a holy, impactful, and purposeful life. Instead of rejecting God and going our own way, let us fully embrace everything that God has done for us in Christ and place our faith fully in Him. Oh, how that would please the heart of God!
NT: “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you… I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by partnering with me in my hardship… And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:8-9, 12-14, 19-20 CSB)
Juxtapose Paul’s attitude against the behavior of the people in Jeremiah’s day. Paul stated that he had learned the secret of being content in any and all circumstances. His contentment didn’t come from relying on himself or figuring out a way to make everything work out for Him. Paul learned that the secret to being content was remaining faithful to the Lord God in everything. No matter what came his way – and he was faced with a lot of hardships… hardships that we wouldn’t even want to imagine – he kept his mind stayed on all that God had done for him and would continue to do for him. Instead of allowing his mind to become consumed with worry and what-ifs, he dwelt on the truth of who God was… the truth of who he was in Christ… and the truth of his ultimate destiny. Through faith in Christ, he knew that God’s grace through the Holy Spirit would always be sufficient for any situation he faced. As long as he remained in Christ, he could do all things. Just as God was faithful to supply Paul’s needs, he knew that God would supply the needs of anyone who would remain faithful to God by grace through faith in Christ. Instead of grieving the heart of God, we can please the heart of God by dwelling on all that we have in Him, and doing all that He has called us to do and endure through the strength that we have in Him.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are always faithful to Your word and to Your covenant. I never have to worry if You are going to honor Your promises to me that are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ. Lord, I don’t ever want to grieve Your heart by rejecting any of what You have lovingly provided. Help me to ever dwell in and on You by grace through faith, no matter what comes my way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.