I have spent most of the past two days studying the Prophet Jeremiah’s thirtieth chapter. What a passage to consider! This coming Sunday at Southern Calvert Baptist Church, we are going to dive deep down into Jeremiah 30. I cannot wait. I want to share what I learned with you here in this article. I cannot believe we are about to enter the month of December. The year 2022 has one more month and then it is gone. In some ways, we are still trying to process 2020. The world has changed greatly over the past 3 years. We truly are living during difficult days. What are you doing to cope with these difficult days? Many have turned to idols, seeking satisfaction in things like drugs and alcohol. Others have turned to hedonism. None of that is working and it never will. What did the children of Israel do when facing difficult days in their history? They have the secret to success and we are going to learn that here in this chapter of the Bible.
I. The Promises of God
The children of Israel were living during some very difficult days when Jeremiah wrote the thirtieth chapter of his book. How did they overcome these difficult days and move forward?
‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. (Jeremiah 30:8)
The key to overcoming difficult days successfully begins with God. The Lord comes to His people, via His Word, and lets them know that better days are coming. The name that God uses to reveal Himself to His people in this passage is “Jehovah“. Jehovah means “the Self-Existing One“. God does not need the children of Israel. The children of Israel need Him. He intervenes on their behalf, so that they can benefit. The Lord does not benefit from doing this, His people do. The children of Israel are in bondage and are being ruled by strangers. The Lord knows what is going on. He sees it all. He is going to intervene in His timing. Before He intervenes, He gives hope to the people. He makes promises to them that He is bound to keep. God has bound Himself to His Word and if He were to break His promises, He would cease to exist. He cannot cease to exist so He has to keep His promises. This is exactly what the children of Israel need to endure difficult days. The same truth applies to us today. When we go through difficult days, we can hold on to the promises of God, knowing that He will always keep His promises. In a spiritual sense, we are all in bondage to our sin nature. We will live under that bondage until the chains are broken. Jesus Christ broke the power of sin when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. That is a promise of God that we can hold on to while we endure difficult days. Even if our daily circumstances are difficult, we are able to live in freedom spiritually because of the promises of God. Are you walking in that freedom each day? I love what we discover in verse 9.
‘But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (Jeremiah 30:9)
When the Lord breaks their bondage, the people will serve the Lord. It is very difficult to serve the Lord when a person is enslaved. The same is true today. If we are enslaved to our sin nature and chase after vices that we think will satisfy us, we will never be in the right state of mind to serve the Lord. That is why Jesus Christ offers freedom to us. With that freedom, we are able to serve the Lord, especially during difficult days. When a person is chasing after satisfaction in vices and addictions, he will not serve the Lord. Ultimately, he will never be satisfied in those idols. During these difficult days, do you seek satisfaction in idols or do you seek to serve the Lord, the source of true satisfaction?
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the LORD, ‘And do not be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar And your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob will return and will be quiet and at ease, And no one will make him afraid. (Jeremiah 30:10)
Fear is an enemy that can consume human beings. That is one thing that I have learned over the past 3 years. The promises of God produce faith when understood and embraced. The enemy of faith is fear. Faith and fear cannot coexist in the same space. Surrendering to faith will drive out fear. Surrendering to fear will drive out faith. After sharing His promises with His people, God commands them not to surrender to their natural inclination to fear. When a person surrenders to fear, this will lead to that person being dismayed. That means shattered and broken. A person controlled by fear will be shattered and broken leading to the loss of hope. God commands His people not to be shattered. Difficult days seek to shatter our will. We must not surrender to fear and dismay because we will freeze up and end up making very poor choices. God promises to intervene during difficult days and bring peace to the lives of those who follow His promises, even if the circumstances of difficult days do not change.
‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you; For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, Only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly And will by no means leave you unpunished.’ (Jeremiah 30:11)
If God delays in removing us from the midst of difficult circumstances, there are two things that we must consider. The first thing is, God has promised to remain with us as we walk through difficult days. The second thing to consider when God delays in removing us from difficult circumstances is that He is using those difficult days to discipline us. While we walk through difficult days, God is working in us to transform us. Change is not something that we human beings like. Change is inevitable. God has designed us to change daily, into the image of Jesus Christ. He is working on our character as we walk through difficult days. He wants us to be more like Jesus Christ in our attitude, actions, and words. Embracing the promises of God during difficult days will give us the endurance that we need to journey on and put us in the right place to be changed by God. Once we come out on the other side, we will see those difficult days as a blessing and not a curse. How is God using these difficult days in your life to make you more like Jesus Christ? What is stopping that process from taking place?
II. The motive for difficult days
As we discover in this next section, the reason that the children of Israel face difficult days is due to their own choices and actions. It is tempting to blame God when difficult days come upon us and don’t seem to end. That should never be the case. It is a time of self-examination.
12 “For thus says the LORD, ‘Your wound is incurable And your injury is serious.
13 ‘There is no one to plead your cause; No healing for your sore, No recovery for you.
14 ‘All your lovers have forgotten you, They do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, With the punishment of a cruel one, Because your iniquity is great And your sins are numerous. (Jeremiah 30)
The reason that the Lord allows these difficult days to come upon the children of Israel is because of their own great and numerous sins. What had they done to cause this? The answer is revealed in verse 14. The children of Israel had tried to give lip service to God all while embracing the idolatry of the nations around and among them. Those idols did not satisfy them but they continued to pursue them. When they were in a time of need, their idols were worthless. This is what idols do to us. They are appealing. They are pleasurable for a time. Yet, they never satisfy and they leave us aimlessly bobbing in the ocean of life, untethered from the Lord. Embrace a vice and it will be pleasing for a time. Then it gets its hooks in you and seeks to destroy you. We have all either experienced this personally or have seen the process take place in the life of someone close to us. That vice is an idol. That vice will always want more and more and more. It cannot satisfy you and it always remains unsatisfied.
16 ‘Therefore all who devour you will be devoured; And all your adversaries, every one of them, will go into captivity; And those who plunder you will be for plunder, And all who prey upon you I will give for prey.
17 ‘For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; no one cares for her.”‘ (Jeremiah 30)
In the midst of the consequences of our choices, our vices may desert us but, the Lord remains right there waiting for us to turn to Him and cry out for help. He will hear and intervene when we surrender to Him. That is His promise to the children of Israel and that promise remains valid for us today. Run to Him. Surrender to Him. Embrace His promises and hold them the way that vices cling to us. God will restore those who surrender to Him in their time of need! That is a promise that you can stake your life on, daily.
III. The Promises of God fulfilled
As mentioned earlier in this article, the promises of God will always remain valid. God will always keep His Word. He has to keep His Word or He would cease to exist. Since He is the Self-Existing One, He cannot cease to exist. He has bound Himself to His promises. They are yes and amen, as the apostle Paul states.
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob And have compassion on his dwelling places; And the city will be rebuilt on its ruin, And the palace will stand on its rightful place. (Jeremiah 30:18)
God intervenes for those who surrender to Him, not based on their own merit, instead, this intervention is based on His own character. Part of God’s character is compassion. The word compassion means to feel with the one who suffers and take action to relieve the suffering. It is one thing to feel sorry for a suffering person, yet, it is altogether different to intervene and relieve a person’s suffering. God does both. The children of Israel do not deserve God’s intervention just as we do not today. Just as He intervenes on behalf of the children of Israel, so He does for us today. How do we know that a person has experienced the compassion of God through His intervention? The next verse explains.
‘From them will proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who celebrate; And I will multiply them and they will not be diminished; I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant. (Jeremiah 30:19)
Gratitude is the outward response demonstrated by those who experience God’s compassion and intervention. Do you demonstrate an attitude of gratitude toward God, even if He does not change the circumstances that bring about difficult days in your life? When was the last time that you expressed gratitude to God? When was the last time that you expressed gratitude toward the people around you? That is a good place to begin in the process of self-examination. It is easy for us to be ungrateful. That is our natural inclination. We like to complain. Gratitude is something that we must learn and practice. Who else benefits from an attitude of gratitude?
‘Their children also will be as formerly, And their congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all their oppressors. (Jeremiah 30:20)
Our children benefit from our attitude of gratitude. Our children are always watching and learning from us. If we are ungrateful people who constantly complain, our children will follow our own example. If we are grateful people, our children will also learn to be grateful. Take a look at your children. What characteristics dominate their daily lives? Are they ungrateful and do they complain constantly? Where did they learn to be like that? Do they graciously express gratitude to you and to the people around them? As you examine yourself and your children, what changes do you need to make? Don’t ignore reality. Take a long, hard look in the mirror and embrace what you see. That is the first step to coarse correction. You will be transformed and that transformation will be reflected in your children. Look at what happens when we practice what we have discovered in this passage.
‘Their leader shall be one of them, And their ruler shall come forth from their midst; And I will bring him near and he shall approach Me; For who would dare to risk his life to approach Me?’ declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 30:21)
We impact individuals who will grow up to impact a whole new generation. We will end up impacting a generation of people whom we never meet. What a blessing! What a promise from the Lord! Are you ready to embrace that promise? Are you ready to be a blessing to those around you who grow up to become a blessing to many, many others? It all begins with the promises of God. Know them. Embrace them. Live them. Teach them to those around you and an entire society can be transformed. The ball is in our court, what are we going to do with these truths? I want to see this final promise come to fruition in my life, in my children’s lives, and in my nation:
‘You shall be My people, And I will be your God.’ ” (Jeremiah 30:22)
I want my family to be people of God. I want my society to be filled with people of God. I want to see my nation transformed one person at a time, beginning with me! What about you?