a gem in jeremiah

12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:

“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
    you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
    under every spreading tree,
    and have not obeyed me,’”
declares the Lord.

 

Jeremiah 3:12-13

I am beginning to love the Old Testament.

It’s taken me some time to read it, mainly because I haven’t really tried. The thickest section of the book is also the heaviest. I always figured I’d get to it eventually – for now, I’ll just reread the rest of the Bible.

I’ll sit cross-legged with Mary while Jesus feasts on Martha’s famous lamb, over and over again. I’ll harmonize with Silas to hymns about Christ as Paul prays in prison. I’ll even listen to crazy old Uncle James as he stares straight into my soul and speaks words of wisdom that both cut and heal.

But the Old Testament? I don’t even know where to start.

For one, the books that comprise the first three quarters of the Word are far lengthier than the letters and gospels of the New Testament, making them harder to digest. I often listen to the Bible app on my phone to fall asleep; and the number of books read differs drastically depending on where I first push play. If I start at Psalm 1, we’ll wake up somewhere in the middle of Ecclesiastes. But if I start at 1 Corinthians 1, we’ll plow straight through to Revelation – a fairly disorienting first discourse for the morning.

Anyways.

We all have excuses. We just have to admit them.

Recently, I asked my small group for advice on how to chew on the meatiest part of life’s manual. They gave me a few great pointers I’d love to share, in case you relate to anything I’ve written thus far:

  • Keep the overarching narrative in mind – God creates, man sins, God pleads with man to return to Him, God restores. Repeat.
  • As you read, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the following: “What does this passage teach me about who God is?”
  • Get an ESV Study Bible. Helps tremendously with understanding historical and cultural context.
  • Camp out in one book for a while to really let it soak in your spirit.
  • Read Old Testament laws in tandem with New Testament letters. Enlightening to see the way Christ truly fulfilled it all.

Why do we do all this? Because it’s worth it.

As I’ve begun walking through the Old Testament, I know I’ll continue. It’s wonderful. There’s a gem in Jeremiah that has brought me more life than I thought it could. Here are the verses once more:

12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:

“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
    you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
    under every spreading tree,
    and have not obeyed me,’”
declares the Lord.

 

Jeremiah 3:12-13

When I read this, its simplicity strikes me. What does God require for Israel’s restoration?

Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God.

The Lord’s words remind me of the moment I first believed in the beauty of the gospel. I confessed my sin and believed that I had been fully justified by faith. Yet, now, in the name of knowledge and maturity, I seek to understand the complexities of my sin as an attempt to rationalize my falls. This will not please the Lord.

While healthy self reflection is great, we must not neglect to reflect on who we’ve sinned against. In Psalm 51, David writes:

“Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.”

When we sin, we sin against God. Sometimes, we sin against other people, too. But the Word is clear – when we sin, we’ve sinned against God.

Here’s the good news: He asks us to only acknowledge our guilt and return to Him – that’s it. Doesn’t matter what we did. He’s faithful; we’re not.

And the beauty of being an A.D. believer is that all our past, present, and future sins have been atoned for by Jesus. We don’t need to wait for God to speak words of life through a prophet. We can walk daily with the living Word.

The Word who’s blood speaks a better Word than the blood of Abel. The Word who is our great High Priest, who enables us to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, bore the guilt we must acknowledge. Jesus grants true repentance when we allow His spirit to completely change our mindset about sin – for at its core, sin is a rebellion against the Lord; the Lord who loves you. And once we believe this, through Jesus, we return to the Father.

Do y’all realize what this means? When we sin, acknowledge it, and return to Him, we can be completely free from that sin forever. 

Our guilt is gone, our minds are changed, and we are free. So free. Freer than free.

And He is faithful. Faithful forever.

Let’s let His word continue to wash over us as we delve into its depths more and more.

Lord, thank you for your Holy Word. Thank you for all of it – even the parts that are hard to read. Holy Spirit, illuminate your Word so that we may truly know the one true God. Let us not return to our sin – let us return to you. You are faithful. We love you. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s