A permanent account of wrong-doing is an unpleasant idea. Yet God says here that Judah’s sin was recorded with a diamond-tipped iron pen upon their hearts and their altars. How could they have peace of mind?
God’s sanction against the nation was coming. They would lose their wealth and their treasures, and would have to serve their enemies in a foreign land. Worse than all that, they were in great danger of facing the Lord’s eternal anger.
The Bible tells us that God makes a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. In Jeremiah 17 the contrast is given between a shrub in the desert and a tree planted by water. God has always looked for good fruit from His people as proof of their claims of devotion to Him. Yet “the heart is deceitful above all things.” We claim to have a sincere devotion to Him, but true sincerity of love for God is displayed in the fruit of obedience. God searches the hearts and minds of His people. He will not be fooled by our words.
The Lord had commanded that Israel remember one day in seven as a special day of Sabbath rest. In Jeremiah’s era that day was Saturday, the final day of the week. This Sabbath commandment was a gift of God to His people, but they did not see it that way. Jeremiah was not afraid to press this matter with those who were violating the Lord’s commandment, but they simply would not listen to His warnings. If they would faithfully receive the gift of Sabbath, He would be pleased to bless them. They would have kings on the throne. The wealth of nations would flow through the gates of their city. But if they would not listen, God would destroy Jerusalem.
Israel’s violations against the Law of God stood against them. But now Jews and Gentiles who trust in Jesus have another public declaration—the gospel story of the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf—which brings powerful reassurance. His righteousness has become ours through faith in His name. Jesus is the tree of life planted by the waterside. He is the One in whom there is no hypocrisy. Our Messiah healed broken people on the Sabbath and testified to the coming of the most perfect rest for God’s people.
The story of Israel’s guilt is recorded plainly for us in the accounts of the prophets. Our stories are no better than theirs when it comes to the evidence of our sinful hearts and lives. But the day is coming when the Lamb’s Book of Life will be revealed before all the nations. Those who belong to Him will be permanently displayed. Even now our names are written on the palms of His hands. Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, our sin has brought great trouble upon us. How can we be effective and fruitful for Your purposes if we will not turn away from iniquity? Yet we will trust in You. Grant to us a new repentance based upon the power of the cross. You search hearts, and You bring life. Father, we desire that we might be sustained by You, our fountain of living water. We turn away from death. Heal us and save us. You are our refuge in the day of disaster. Sin and death have come against us, but Your Son has won a great victory for us. You are our strong and eternal Sabbath rest. We have come to the Holy Redeemer who has accomplished our Salvation. Therefore, we humbly confess our sin before You, and bring our lives as a thank offering to You. We shall live, for in Your life, we have life.