Jeremiah lived in a time of great distress. We might imagine that the comfort of a life-long companion would have been a great help to him—particularly during the difficulty of a season of persecution. Yet the Lord told him, “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” The prophet was also told not to enter into the commemorations of the deaths or marriages of those around him. His life was set apart from normal times of gathering because the Word of God’s judgment was to be such an overwhelming reality for his life.
Jeremiah would remind the people of the sins of their fathers in falling away from the Lord and worshiping false gods. Not only had earlier generations done these things, but the prophet’s own contemporaries were worse than those who came before them. Therefore the Lord announced to His covenant people, “I will hurl you out of this land.”
It was not as if the Lord had forgotten His promises of salvation for His elect, despite centuries of Israel’s willful rebellion. They were ignoring God’s Law and His promises while they remained in the land that He had given them. Discipline was what they needed most at this moment. It was time for them to be drawn nearer to Him and His Word by being sent far away.
God had not abandoned His plan of mercy. He announced in Jeremiah 16 that future generations would speak of His deliverance again. He would bring people back from the north just as He had rescued their ancestors from bondage in Egypt.
Today we read of the events of the exodus from Egypt and the restoration from the land of Babylon and they serve as illustrations of a far greater deliverance and redemption. It was wonderful for Israel to be relieved of the whip of the oppressor, but even the worst slave-driver should not be our most-feared enemy. The problems of sin, death, and hell are of greater eternal significance than any trials that we face on this earth.
Our holy God could have been our worst enemy, and justly so, since we have violated His laws and ignored His promises. But now the Deliverer has come for sinners. Jesus, the Righteous One, has rescued us from hell. He has sent forth His church as “fishers” of men (Note Jeremiah 16:16 and Matthew 4:19). Nations “from the ends of the earth” would come to the God of Israel. According to the word of Jeremiah, Gentiles would one day turn away from the idols of their fathers. They would confess before the Lord that these worthless objects of worship were not gods.
Hell is forever. There is no way of release for the one who dies and enters into the place of torment reserved for the devil and his allies. But we have turned away from false gods. We have put our trust in Jesus, our great Savior who has risen from the dead. Our destiny is a renewed heaven and earth without sin and death. We are the eternal bride of an astoundingly fruitful Lord and King.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord of the Scriptures, Your Word is completely true and reliable. Help us to understand it rightly. Your holiness is far beyond us, yet this same holiness of Your Son has been credited to us. We know what we have deserved. There could be no gladness among us if we were to stand before You in our own righteousness. We have gone after other gods, and have not kept Your Law. Yet we will be warmly embraced by You as members of Your household and citizens of heaven. You shall restore us again as those who have been shown Your glorious favor. We long for the new heavens and the new earth. We think of the joy of seeing Your Son, face to face. Though we have polluted Your church with idols, will we see Your saving power in person? Blessed be Your Name. We hate our sin. You are the Lord.