Jeremiah 31:15-40; Jeremiah 49:34-51:14
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Wow, Jeremiah 31 gives so much joy to my heart to read it, as the promises of deliverance and hope of restoration are given by God! In Jeremiah chapter 31 verses 15 through 17 today we read - "This is what the LORD says: "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah--mourning and weeping unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted--for her children are dead." But now the LORD says, "Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you. Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future," says the LORD. "Your children will come again to their own land."
Did you notice verse 15 above is also in the New Testament? It is quoted in Matthew chapter 2 verse 18 based on Herod's orders to murder all of the male infants being a fulfillment of this verse. Here's verses 16 through 18 in Matthew chapter 2: "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." I almost hesitate to share this image below of the slaughter of "The Holy Innocents" by the Florentine painter and architect Giotto di Bondone from the year 1304, but I think this artwork does capture the full weight of the tragedy of Herod's orders and the horrible manner in which this verse in Jeremiah was fulfilled:
Jeremiah 31:18 gives a great example of the true relationship we can have with God - "I have heard Israel saying, `You disciplined me severely, but I deserved it. I was like a calf that needed to be trained for the yoke and plow. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God." Israel was finally beginning to repent and return to God. I know the word "discipline" can maybe be a tough one for us - we've probably all experienced some unjust discipline. I pray that you can see that God's discipline for us is ultimately very loving - training us, turning us, restoring us. If you feel that God is disciplining you in your life right now, will you let him? So that he can train you, turn you, restore you?
I love the last verse in Jeremiah's readings today! 31:26 - "At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet." Very sweet readings in Jeremiah today indeed! When is the last time you've had sweet sleep? Do you think sweet sleep is a gift from God? Speaking of sweet sleep, please take a few minutes to read an AWESOME article by author Lauren Winner about what I call the spiritual discipline of sleep! The article is titled "Sleep Therapy" and you can read it at this link. Think this kitten below is having some sweet sleep? :)
Jeremiah chapter 31 today is encouraging reading! It seems we've rounded the corner from the coming destruction and captivity prophecies in the book of Jeremiah, and God is now speaking about rebuilding Jerusalem. We get a good Messianic foreshadowing today in verse 31: ""The day will come," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah." The new covenant is coming!
Today in Jeremiah 31:33 we read: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” This verse reminds me of the importance in memorizing scripture – not just reading scripture, but memorizing it and writing it upon our hearts. I have been amazed oftentimes how Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to my mind and heart at some very needed and specific times. (if you can only memorize 2 scripture verses, please memorize these Proverbs verses) Do you memorize scripture? Do you not just memorize it, but internalize its teachings and meanings into your heart? Do you see the value in memorizing scripture and writing it upon your heart?
We have quite the readings in Jeremiah chapter 49 & 50 today! The prophecies have turned from Judah and Jerusalem and are now directed toward their neighbors and toward their captors, Babylon. The map below will give you a good overview of the Babylonian empire in the 6th century B.C.:
Jeremiah 50 does not bode well for Babylon! It is interesting, in that King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon have played a large role in sacking Jerusalem & Judah - to discipline them for their sins. And now the tide is coming back toward Babylon. Verse 28 really stood out to me today as a clear indication that destroying the Temple in Jerusalem was a really really bad idea for Babylon... "Listen to the people who have escaped from Babylon, as they tell in Jerusalem how the Lord our God has taken vengeance against those who destroyed his Temple." Below is a miniature from the 15th century French artist Fouquet that shows Nebuchadnezzar´s army attacking the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (though this is quite an artistic interpretation of the Temple...)
Chapter 50 does bode well for Israel & Judah - verses 4 & 5 tell us: "Then the people of Israel and Judah will join together," says the LORD, "weeping and seeking the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Jerusalem and will start back home again. They will bind themselves to the LORD with an eternal covenant that will never again be broken." How often do we weep and seek the Lord? Should we ever literally weep and seek God? Can we learn something about the power of weeping from the people of Israel and Judah on how we can bind ourselves to God with an eternal covenant that will never be broken?
Worship God: Today's readings in Jeremiah 31 reminded me of the Newsboys song song "Shine." Here's a great live high energy version of this song!
Do you want to shine? Click here and Shine!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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