The Word of God in Jeremiah
I love God's Word. I hope you do too. I love knowing that because of what Jesus accomplished for me in the gospel, earning my righteousness by living a perfect life, absorbing the penalty for my sin at the cross, and rising from the dead to secure my new life in him, I can sit at his feet and commune with the living God in a completely restored relationship. And I love that this is always possible no matter how sinful I feel - rightly or wrongly (Heb. 4:16). Seeing Jesus in me, God wants me to come to Him at all times and in every circumstance. The Word of God assures me of this, and it is comforting beyond words.
But the Word of God is also fearful...awesome in the true sense of this butchered term. It has unfathomable power to accomplish things that we can't predict or fully understand. When we approach God through His Word we can't ultimately control what God chooses to do in us. Through His Word, He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 135:6), accomplishing His sovereign will (Isa. 55:10-11), and as we sit under His Word, allowing it to have its way with us (Heb. 4:12), God has free reign to do what He sees fit for us. We become utterly vulnerable before the living God, who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). So the Word of God is both comforting and fearful...again, I love it!
These amazing truths are strikingly displayed in the life of Jeremiah. Perhaps more than in any other Old Testament prophetic book, in Jeremiah we get a glimpse into how God's Word can affect us as we submit ourselves to it. Listen to how Jeremiah describes his interaction with God through His Word in Jeremiah 15:16: "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts." How often do you describe your devotional times in terms of unabashed consumption and utter delight?! This is provoking. Jeremiah found God's words to be scrumptious and tantalizing. So he consumed them, and found his utmost joy in them.
More than this, Jeremiah found security in his identity through God's Word. God's Word confirmed Jeremiah's call as he contemplated God's lordship over his life. And when understand in context (read Jeremiah 15), this is all the more profound. You see, life was incredibly difficult for Jeremiah. At this point, Jeremiah was in the midst of facing very hostile opposition from his own people. But in and through his sufferings Jeremiah found in the Word of God a source of spiritual nourishment, a place he could go to sustain his joy, and the ground of his self-understanding. And God used His Word to maintain and grow Jeremiah's faith through his very difficult life.
Which all comes to a head in Jeremiah 20:7-12. In verse 7, he boldly tells God, "You have deceived me." I think we can agree that this is not a model prayer. But it's amazingly honest. Here we get a glimpse into the crux of Jeremiah's struggle. Here we see how a saved sinner wrestles with the sovereign, mysterious Lord of all (see Gen. 32:22-32). Through His Word God often reveals hard truths to us that we simply don't like, and as sinners we will respond sinfully. But here we see God's patience towards Jeremiah...and from it we can learn about His patience towards us. And it's not as if God's Word was not having ts way with Jeremiah. No, it was having it's precisely intended effect as God was patiently and meticulously forming Jeremiah into a man of faith. God does the same for us as we wrestle with Him in His Word.
And so Jeremiah's faith led to faithfulness. Even as the revelation that was given to him proved to be the reason for the opposition he was facing (verse 8) he found it to be too compelling to hold back from sharing. Jeremiah tells us in verse 9, "If I say 'I will not mention Him, or speak anymore in His name,' there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot." Jeremiah could not help but share this Word that had so affected him. The idea of not sharing it made him sick to his bones. And as he shared, he continued to grow in faith in seeing God's power and favor over him (verses 11-12). God continued His work in Jeremiah as Jeremiah shared the very Word that was transforming him. Ah, the power of the word of God!
So how do you interact with God's Word? Like Jeremiah, do you seek God in His Word in the midst of the most difficult of your circumstances? Do you consume it, let it sink down to the very core of your being, and let it bring you comfort and utter delight in knowing that in Christ you are identified as a child of the living God? Do you wrestle with God through it in brutal honesty, perhaps at times responding with ideas that reveal your sin and distrust, but nevertheless submitting yourself to it, finding that your faith is being built up by God through that very experience? And do you share it? Has God so filled your heart with the glorious burden of His Word that you simply cannot hold it in (Luke 24:32)? Let's ask God to do His sovereign, transforming work in us through the same Word that transformed Jeremiah.
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