Today’s Old Testament lesson comes from Jeremiah — not exactly the most cheery of prophets. Yet, the Lord can lay on even Jeremiah’s heart a message of hope and anticipation:
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” (Jeremiah 16:14-15)
Isn’t that the kind of message that we all want to hear? Don’t we long for some kind of assurance that in spite of all the brokenness we see within us and around us a day is coming in which the decisiveness of the Lord’s redemption will make His previous saving activity look like little more than a warm-up?
But here’s the rub. In order for things to be different then, they will likely have to change now. Albert Einstein is reported to have said: “It is the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.” And yet, don’t we sometimes want to believe that we can have a better tomorrow without going through the painful process of changing today? Don’t we yearn for a healthy planet without changing our patterns of consumption? Don’t we want greater financial freedom without changing our spending habits? Don’t we want greater holiness and closeness to God without turning from sin?
Therefore, we should not be surprised by the manner in which God’s message to Jeremiah continues. Yes, those hope-filled days are coming…
“But now…” declares the LORD…“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.” (Jeremiah 16:16-17)
Sometimes, we feel uncomfortable with passages in the Bible that speak of God’s judgment and wrath. But how could we ever arrive at those promised days of wholeness, healing and shalom unless God was prepared to deal with our brokenness, division and sin?
Someday — by God’s grace — we will share in the promised days that are coming. But for now, may we start living lives that prepare us for those days; so that through us, God’s kingdom will come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.