This is a guest post by The Heart of Teens blog contributor Christian Hanna. Hope you enjoy!
Jeremiah is a book too often overlooked, overshadowed by the poetic language of Isaiah, the spiritual energizing of the Psalms and the historical value of the Pentateuch. The prophecy of one who has been nicknamed “the weeping prophet” is rarely sought out for spiritual encouragement. Yet, within its message of destruction and judgment is found a promise—a sparkling diamond in a grey wasteland.
Jeremiah echoes the cry of Hosea—God’s people have been adulterous, chasing after and loving other things and leaving their God who loves them. Their God who desperately wants them to return to Him. Yet they have refused to return.
“O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” – Isaiah 5:3, emphasis mine.
Here is the truth that takes Jeremiah’s prophesying and makes it hit much closer to home: the predicament of Judah is the predicament of many of us today. If it is not our current situation, then it reflects that which God brought us through.
Then, after an onslaught of repetition in which God calls to the adulterous Judah and offers His mercy if only they will repent, we come to Jeremiah 30-31. In this passage, God talks about the kingdom that will be established. We know this kingdom to be, as many theologians have put it, “already-not-yet”. After Christ’s crucifixion, we have the kingdom of God to an extent here on earth. But it will reach its completion in Heaven, in the new Heaven and the new earth. So that quick brush-up on theology—as best as I can understand it—was to bring you up to speed so that you can share in my amazement as we see what this passage has for us.
Jeremiah speaks the word of the LORD in chapter 30, speaking of much which is to come, but primarily of the salvation of Israel. Now, just to clarify, the book of Jeremiah is written to the sinning nation of Judah, but when salvation comes, Israel will be a single nation under its original name (Israel). Then, in chapter 31, he deliberately uses a certain word to describe just how complete this salvation is.
“Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!” – Isaiah 31:4a, emphasis mine.
Then again later in the chapter:
“Return, O virgin Israel, return to these cities.” – Isaiah 31:21b, emphasis mine.
This choice of words is deliberate. After 29 chapters of comparing Judah to an adulterous lover, Israel is called a “virgin”. This is one of the most stunning, astounding, incredible things that I have read. These verses are a depiction of just how complete God’s salvation is. Check out these other two verses:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.” – Isaiah 31:3b
“For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.” – Isaiah 31:11, emphasis mine.
Do you see the amazing beauty in this? God LOVED us with an EVERLASTING love. Nothing we have ever done, are doing, or will ever do can separate us from His love; it is unending. Because He loves us with this powerful, astounding love, He has ransomed us. He bought back from the slavery of sin, redeeming us. He did this because He loved us and knew that the bonds of sin were too strong for us to break. This alone is beyond enough for ceaseless awe and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father.
But it does not end here.
He now sees us as pure and undefiled. The redemption of Christ’s act on the cross—our salvation—covers our mistakes, our failures, our sins. Yes, God knows that we have sinned. But that is not how he sees us. He sees us as virgins, unmarred by the world and its defilement. To echo Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33). When we see what God has done for us, our one and only response is doxology, pouring out our hearts of thankfulness before the Lord.
Allow me to just end with this final verse from Jeremiah 31 and a quote.
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” – Jeremiah 31:34b
“May I never lose the wonder, the wonder of Your mercy.” – Matt Redman, “Mercy”
Christian Hanna, The Heart of Teens