Thursday, April 15, 2021

Remember Me

Week 15 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 15; God’s Shekinah Glory: Exodus 13:21-22, Exodus 24:16-18, Exodus 40:34-38, 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, Ezekiel chapters 8-11


Background


Shekinah, a Hebrew word meaning dwelling, describes God’s visible presence in the world. Reference to God’s Glory, or His dwelling place, merge with such physical manifestations as a burning bush, a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, the Ark of the Covenant, the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle, the Mercy Seat, the Most Holy Place. To fulfill His plan to dwell with the people becomes the primary purpose of the Temple in the Old Testament. Despite God’s protection and blessings for Israel, their repeated disobedience creates destruction, and only emptiness remains when the glory of God departs the Temple. Shekinah Glory emphasizes God’s plan to dwell among His people and defines the intimate relationship God desires with us.

In the above readings, you can see some examples of God’s glory. There is a belief among the Jewish people that God will never leave the Temple. From the Presence of God with Israel in the desert, from Egypt through the next 400 years until Solomon dedicates the Temple, and for the next almost 400 years, God’s presence is with the people.

After King Solomon dies in 931 BC, the United Kingdom of Israel is divided into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Prophets warn of destruction without obedience to the one true God. The Assyrians conquer Israel, and Babylon will take the people of Judah into captivity, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BC.

In Jeremiah Chapter 12 God declares, “I have forsaken My house…” which can mean the temple or the people. One of Jeremiah’s slightly younger contemporaries, the prophet Ezekiel, reveals in his “visions that the Glory of God [abandons] the Temple”.[1] Scripturally, Ezekiel writes in 10:18, “Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple.” According to various scholars, Yahweh’s glory leaves the Temple around 592 BC, with final destruction of Jerusalem occurring 586 BC. The Temple is destroyed, and the location of the Ark of the Covenant from the Holy of Holies remains a mystery still.

After 70 years, the Jews begin their return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Prophets encourage the people to focus on God. Working through His people, God says, “Take courage … and work, for I am with you,”(Haggai 4:2-9), but this time He offers a future glory that will be greater. The Messiah will become Shekinah glory, God’s visible presence on the earth.

God does not desire to turn from His people or any community or nation, but He makes it clear that disobedience to His truths will have consequences. The “Abiding Presence of God” or shekinah glory represents God’s protection and guidance and never is to be kept inside a building. Jesus, the Messiah, comes to earth as a living presence of God, and after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit becomes the presence of God in the lives of Christians. “So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22 NASB) And the “greater future glory” will come when Jesus returns and establishes the New Jerusalem.

Study

Chapter 15 continues in the series (14-17) of Jeremiah’s messages and heartfelt prayers. Right away we see familiar Biblical heroes, prophets and leaders named Moses and Samuel. God says even these respected men of God could not intercede a rescue for Judah. The destiny of doom and death by sword and famine and captivity play out (vs 2-3). King Manasseh’s name comes up again, the worst, most wicked and longest ruling King of Judah. This is the reason God gives for His coming “horror”.

The people have forsaken Yahweh, and they “keep going backward”. God is “tired of relenting”. The Message says, “I’m tired of letting you off the hook.” The outcome is to scatter them. Their lack of repentance creates great loss. An image in verse 9 of a mother who bears “seven sons” refers to ‘7’ being a perfect number, and in “losing all she has represents Judah’s reversal of fortune.”[2]

Jeremiah begins his pity party by saying perhaps he should never have been born. After all, “everyone curses me.” Jeremiah states his case, “I’ve never hurt or harmed a soul… God knows I have done everything I could to help them… God knows how hard I’ve tried.” (V10-11 MSG) We see images of “iron” which indicates great strength and the destruction from the north is Babylon. God says, “For a fire has been kindled in My anger; it will burn on you.” (v 14)

Jeremiah begins his prayer or petition to God by saying, “You know, O LORD, remember me.” Going further Jeremiah asks God’s retribution or vengeance on his persecutors, pleading for safety. A great verse follows, “Your words become for me a joy and a delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name.” Recognizing the joy of God, of God’s holy word, of being called by God, Jeremiah acknowledges a great truth.

Then, he is back to justifying his behavior of standing alone outside the crowds, not joining the company of those against God. We see his loneliness and lack of friends, and what he calls “enduring pain”. Jeremiah makes his case, and his emotions are myriad – anger, hurt, fear. Jeremiah is not looking at God’s purposes but his own emotions. God is not upset that Jeremiah is sharing his heart. God desires us to bring our raw emotions to Him, to share our deepest wounds with Him. While God hears and knows his heart, Jeremiah is struggling with the stress and what he knows to be true.

R.E. Clements says this is “one of the great turning points… Jeremiah’s success as a prophet has not to be measured by the extent to which he had been able to persuade his hearers to listen to the word of God… but rather in the firmness and consistency with which he bore testimony to the righteous purpose and grand design of God.”[3] God replies to the prophet, “If you return, then I will restore you… You will become my spokesman.” (V19) The Message says, “Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining. Then, but only then, you’ll speak for Me. Let your words change them.” God never tells Jeremiah it will be easy. He offers encouragement in the middle of truth, and sometimes this is hard to hear. God calls him for a righteous purpose – of speaking God’s message. So, stop whining and be about the task.

In return for Jeremiah’s faithfulness, God will make him strong like a “fortified wall of bronze.” God will deliver him from those who try to harm him, from “the hand of the wicked”. He reminds Jeremiah, “For I am with you to save you.” God uses strong action verbs like save and deliver and redeem. These are words in which we, too, can find assurance.

Reflection

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16 ESV 

In Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, he writes that joy is a mark of the “authentic Christian . . . [one who is] on the way of salvation. Joy is characteristic of Christian pilgrimage.” Peterson continues, “Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence… it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience.”[4] Jeremiah’s words reflect the decision to live in God’s abundance. Despite circumstances, God is constant and certain. His word speaks to us today, just as it did to Jeremiah.

Consuming God’s words helps us to consider God’s nature, God’s purpose, God’s design. Taking time to read and study and reflect on the Holy Scriptures, brings refreshment to the soul, restoration to the spirit. I have been making a playlist of songs that remind me of God’s goodness and promises, His power and presence. I believe Jeremiah could have used some of this encouragement. One of songs on my new play list is Evidence by Josh Baldwin. Consider the lyrics. If you have time, look it up the song and listen.

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I'm standing
I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life
Help me remember when I'm weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be
I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life
See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus
See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus
I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life
I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life
Why should I fear
The evidence is here
Why should I fear
The evidence is here [5] 

Application 

"The inevitable result of genuine salvation is joy! The joy found in Christ is like an inexhaustible well, satisfying the most desperate thirst."[6] 

·    *     As you journey through your current season, are you finding Real JOY? If not, perhaps you are looking in the wrong places. You do not have to wander alone in the dry, dark places. The Holy One is here! Christ is Real JOY! Let the promises of God mark you with joy!

·  *       Make your own encouraging playlist or Scripture-list or promise-list!

Donna Oswalt



[1] Apologetics Study Bible Notes

[2] ESV Global Study Bible Notes on Jeremiah 15:9

[3] Jeremiah, Interpretation; Clements, RE, pg 123-24

[4] A Long Obedience in the Same Direction; Peterson, Eugene

[5] Evidence song lyrics; Baldwin, Josh

[6] Blackaby Study Bible Notes

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