`Week 3 – Book of Jeremiah
Read: Jeremiah Chapter 3
Biblical timelines are many, timelines of judges, of kings, of prophets, of the rise and fall of nations. Like any timeline, these linear compilations mark the order and dates of history, but, perhaps as importantly, timelines give people perspective. Historically, we are people who record and retell past events. We revel in the victories, but we are ‘historically’ forgetful and neglectful to remember the unforeseen and unfortunate outcomes of chronicled events.
Timelines can also mark future events, such as defining project deadlines, planning academic achievements, and estimating monetary growth potential. Some people set business or personal 5-Year Goals while others simply dream of future possibilities.
This week let us compare 2 timelines: 1) the Kings of Judah and 2) Christ, the King of kings.
Kings of Judah
Hezekiah 730 BC
Zedekiah 597 – 586
Jeremiah the prophet brings God’s message of repentance to Judah for 40 years, then the era of kings in Judah ends. Jerusalem is destroyed and the people of Judah are taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon The Israelites of Judah are in captivity 70 years. During these roughly 150 years between 730-586 BC, several kings reign over Judah, and Babylon has two kings, Nabopolassa and Nebuchadnezzar, over about 75 years. We learn that Persia, whose ruler is Cyrus, conquers Babylon in 539. The rise and fall of political leaders make up this short timeline.
Christ, King of kings
In Scripture, there is a Messianic timeline that reveals Christ – past, present, and future. From the beginning, before time is recorded, Christ is life itself. Messianic prophesies fill the Old Testament, a God-promise coming for all nations, for all people. After all the predictions of a Messiah, Christ’s birth, teaching, ministry, death, and resurrection are all recorded in the New Testament. Now, Christ is sitting at the right hand of God until His return.
Biblical references of a New Jerusalem, a New Earth, of Heaven shout to eternity with God. Revelation gives us a glimpse into Christ’s return and rule on the New Earth. This timeline, counting from before time is recorded through the centuries of waiting for Christ’s birth, from Christ’s birth to His resurrection and to an unknown time of Christ’s return, continues infinitely. From Genesis to Revelation, from hope to everlasting hope, God’s promise of love never ends.
This chapter continues to describe the sinful nature of “backsliding” or turning away from God. Using metaphorical examples of marriage and adultery, God says Judah is playing the harlot. Three times we read that God invites “faithless Israel” back to Him. He requires two things: acknowledge the sin and spiritual repentance. This forgiveness is a message of hope. “New shepherds” who follow God will feed your mind with “knowledge and understanding”.
Having a stubborn or unchanged heart becomes a recurring theme. In verse 13 the NKJV uses the phrase “scattered your charms” while most translations use “favors”. God is confronting the heart of the people. Words and rituals of repentance do not count when the heart is deceptive or insincere. The people have ‘scattered their charms’ or lost the way of the Lord or been promiscuous with strangers. They have given their hearts to false gods; they have lost God’s blessings.
In Chapter 3:17, a promise of hope comes with Jerusalem becoming the “Throne of the LORD” and “all nations will be gathered to Jerusalem”. We see a glimpse into the New Jerusalem, a place for all nations, where God’s faithful people will live without any “stubbornness” of hearts. This will be a place for the faithful remnant. In verse 22, God desires to ‘heal’ their faithlessness. God’s message of hope prevails despite their blatant and wonton behavior. The Message 3:12 God faithfully reminds, “I’m committed in love to you.”
The unconditional love God promises exceeds my mind. “I’m committed in love to you” can be said by folks who should mean it or maybe mean it at the time, but something changes. While some are friends or neighbors, some are business partners or marriage partners, we live in a society that is full of “casual partners”. Sometimes, even family members become casual acquaintances. How rare to have a loyal and trusted long-time, loving relationship! God’s commitment to love reveals an essential characteristic of His nature.
As people, flawed and fragile and fickle, we frequently have a problem with our hearts and ‘scatter our charms’ or our loyalties, our honesty, our sincerity, our trustworthiness. I like to believe I am a person who commits and does not waiver, but life proves otherwise. Most of us, if we are honest, drop the ball. God, however, never waivers, never falters. God always remains ‘committed in love to you.’ There is great comfort in knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love. We can walk away from God, but He remains faithful, forgiving me, inviting me back. God desires a relationship with us.
Chronological Life Application Study Bible says this: To live without faith is hopeless; to express sorrow without change is hypocritical… Repentance demands a change of mind and heart that results in changed behavior.