Last week, we looked at the story of Joseph and his life foreshadows the first advent of Jesus Christ. We shared an hour-long audio teaching from Pr Chris Rosebrough via Fighting for the Faith, so if you haven’t yet listened to that I encourage you to set aside some time to listen (Link). The week prior, we looked at how the story of Noah also points forward to our salvation in Jesus Christ. This week, we find ourselves within the Advent season, 4 weeks to when the Church celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The local CCM radio channel is already playing a full set of Christmas music. We’ll discuss some concerns with that in tomorrow’s post. In this season of Advent, I think it is important that we not simply jump straight to the virgin birth and the gold, frankincense and myrrh without first understanding our need for a Savior. Throughout the year, we review a lot of music and internet memes that confuse Law and Gospel, or simply skip over the Law to present a different gospel than what is found in God’s Word.
The Prophet Jeremiah
Jeremiah was a great Prophet of the LORD who lived through a truly dark time in the history of Israel. Let’s look at the introduction to his book:
Jeremiah 1:1-12 (ESV)
1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.
The Call of Jeremiah
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”
11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
Wow. This is quite the calling. It is no wonder that today’s false-prophets and false anointed ones (false christs) make reading themselves into Jeremiah such a common practice. We’re not going to do that here. God is speaking to His Prophet, whom He formed, consecrated, and appointed before he was born. Notice that Jeremiah is appointed Prophet to the Nations, not just to Israel. This is important to hold onto, because as he prophesies of the coming Messiah, the prophetic word is not just for Israel, but for the Nations.
A Blessing to the Nations
We see this in the Promise given to Abraham.
Genesis 17:1-8 (ESV) | Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
Abraham and the nation of Israel would then serve as God’s chosen people, or primary agent of the Promise of God, but the Promise would be to the nations (plural). Shortly after this covenant, we see a conversation within the Godhead regarding this Promise to Abraham just before He tells Abraham of the judgement that is coming to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 18:17-19 (ESV)
17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
God’s Wrath and Grace
Through all of Israel’s unbelief and transgressions, God preserved her, rescued her, time and time again. Fast-forward to Jeremiah’s time, the northern kingdom of Israel had been scattered by the Assyrians. God sends Jeremiah to prophecy against the remaining kingdom of Judah for her sins and transgressions, but she does not repent. God then uses the king of Babylon to punish Judah, destroying the city of Jerusalem and taking most of its inhabitants (except the very poor) into Babylonian exile for 70 years. Jeremiah isn’t taken to Babylon, but Daniel and Ezekiel were. Jeremiah is imprisoned by the king of Judah for prophesying of the coming judgement against Judah at the hands of Babylon. That’s a high-altitude flyover of Jeremiah, but let us look at the word of the LORD to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 32 that will set up our main text.
Jeremiah 32:26-35 (ESV)
26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? 28 Therefore, thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall capture it.29 The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come and set this city on fire and burn it,with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth. The children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the Lord. 31 This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
Notice the language here of total sin, total depravity, from their youth, from the day the city was built. They have done nothing but evil. God isn’t only speaking of Judah, but of all of mankind. Romans 1 and 2 follow after this pattern of declaring everyone unrighteous for having forsaken the Creator, and refusing to worship Him as God. Worse, they’ve taken to worshiping false gods and doing what is evil. Similarly, we are born dead in our sins and trespasses, and God’s grace delays the judgement so that we might listen and receive instruction and turn our faces toward Him…. but we don’t… and we can’t on our own. Judgement is coming, but we serve a God who Saves. But God doesn’t save by making the Law go away or by refusing to judge; rather, He carries His remnant through the judgment, as God carried Noah and his family through the global flood in the Ark, and how God placed Joseph in a position to save all of Israel… a position that began with being sold into slavery and wrongful imprisonment.
Jeremiah 32:36-44 (ESV) | They Shall Be My People; I Will Be Their God
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety.38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”
Amen. Judgment is coming, for it is due. His wrath must be satisfied, for He is a Just and Holy God. But He will also preserve His people, for He is Gracious and Merciful. He will gather them, He will give them one Way, and will make an Everlasting Covenant. God isn’t just talking about the end of the Babylonian exile… He’s talking about the New Covenant of the Blood of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.
Jeremiah 33:1-16 (ESV) | The Lord Promises Peace
33 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: 2 “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: 3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. 4 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword: 5 They are coming into fight against the Chaldeans and to fill them with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil. 6 Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. 7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first.8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.9 And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.
10 “Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:
“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
12 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. 13 In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord.
The Lord‘s Eternal Covenant with David
14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Again, while the promise of the LORD here to Israel and Judah had an immediate (well, after the exile) fulfillment, God’s Wording is goes beyond the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple… God is pointing to His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Branch of David. The Way the Truth and the Life who will take away the sin of the world. The chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day were looking for a temporal fulfillment of this prophecy. Their messiah was going to turn Israel into a once great nation where none, not Rome or any other nation would dare come against them. But that is not the Promise we’ve received… for we are looking for the consolation of all of Creation, that which has been subjected to futility as a direct result of the sin of Adam. When God talks about healing the land, we should see healing in a salvific sense… a redemption of the good creation that was in the beginning, before sin entered creation. The New Heaven, the New Earth, with a New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:22-23 (ESV)
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Until Next Week
As Christmas approaches, please resist the urge to skip over the Truth of our desperate need for a savior, and our complicity in tempting the Wrath of God. We deserve judgement, we have since the fall. We are born into it, and we perpetuate it in sinful flesh. But Praise be to our God and Father for sending us His Only Begotten Son, Jesus. Repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.
Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In Christ Jesus,