The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
God shows Himself all through the Bible. For all people.
If you’d allow me, I’d love to show you some of the amazing ways God works. How He spoke to people to demonstrate His authority and His grace. It’s all there in Scripture. I don’t have a special edition of the Bible that told me the following story about Jeremiah. This same story is in your Bible, too. It is a little longer though (just saying).
The prophet Jeremiah was one of those guys who knew God was talking to Him. As long as God spoke to Him, he never stopped being obedient to pass the message along. He was pretty persistent about it — compelled, driven, relentless — to speak the very words of God to the people of Israel (technically, it was Judah, but if we go down too many rabbit trails here we might miss the forest for the trees).
What happened was God allowed the Israelites who were in Jerusalem to be taken captive by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. In fact God caused them to be taken. In Jeremiah 29:4 God says, “whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Why? Because He’s mean, like some people think? No! He did it for their peace. Jeremiah 29:7: “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive…for in its peace you will have peace.” God always has what’s best for us on His mind.
The land of Israel was in chaos. The people were oppressed and confused. The king was a real winner. And I mean that in the most sarcastic way. He was wicked. He stole from the people by withholding their wages. He practiced extortion. His administration was unjust. He was greedy, materialistic, dishonest, and unrighteous. He didn’t know God. He was responsible for the shedding of innocent blood. (I am not making this stuff up!) Read Jeremiah 22:13-17. And, he wasn’t fooling anyone, especially Jeremiah.
One thing that I find nearly impossible to do when I study the Word is to disconnect my understanding of the messages from the applications for today. The Old Testament is as relevant now as ever.
Anyway, the king of Babylon let King Johoiakim (you know, the ‘real winner’) of Judah stay in the land of the Israelites ruling the few people remaining there. God had allowed a few people to stay to care for the land. God knew the captives were going to come back so, until that time, some people were needed to be caretakers of the land.
Jeremiah had been speaking God’s words to the people of Israel for 23 years. God’s message was along this vein, ‘Return to Me. Repent. I am your God. I will restore you.’ For the most part they didn’t listen. At one point God told Jeremiah to dictate His words to a scribe and to write them on a scroll (also translated ‘book’). It was read to the common people. This time they listened. Then it was read to the officials under King Jehoiakim’s rule. The officials listened, too. However, when only a small portion of the scroll had been read in the presence of Jehoiakim and his servants, the king grabbed the scroll, cut it up with a knife, and threw it in his blazing fireplace. Yep, burned it up. Every time I read that, I think, “Wow, he had some chutzpah!”
So, what did God do? God told Jeremiah to take another scroll and write the same words again. Do it just like before. While you’re at it, add a few words for Johoiakim and his servants, that his iniquity didn’t go unnoticed by Me. Jeremiah and his scribe got back to business — God’s business — and wrote once again, ‘all the words of the book’. (For the long version of this story, read Jeremiah 36).
The desire of God’s heart was for His people to turn from the wrong things they were doing so that He could forgive them and rightfully reinstate them. In Jeremiah 29:10 God said that, ‘after the 70 years of captivity are completed He would perform His good word toward them and would cause them to return to Jerusalem.’ The next thing He tells them is that He wants to give them ‘a future and a hope’. This is what He told the captives: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. Every message God spoke through Jeremiah closed with a reassurance of hope. It’s God’s way. Instilling hope is what He does.
Are you unsettled about anything? At this time in America, I know I am.
Is God telling you that there’s hope in the midst of chaos? That He is your peace in uncertainty? That no matter what happens, He never changes? He is sovereign. He rules. Is He giving you another chance to press on? To believe Him — in everything? To know, without a doubt, His word remains forever?
God still speaks. He wants you to hear Him. Listen carefully, He wants to speak to your heart.