You’ve already seen how personal the book of Jeremiah is. The LORD, and the author, provide a vivid picture of the judgment descending on Judah. Furthermore, like Noah before, Jeremiah is instructed to act as though he’s confident that destruction is nigh. Today’s reading opens with instructions about how Jeremiah should not waste his time: “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons and daughters in this place…” also, “Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them…” Jeremiah’s words, actions, and inactions will convey the LORD’s intentions and perspective.
In the middle of today’s reading comes a message of hope. “If you listen to Me…” declares the LORD, and “keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it, then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David… And this city shall be established forever.” This presents a tension that will go unresolved: has the LORD changed His mind about the promised destruction? Is He making a final offer of restoration? Or does He know His offer will go unheeded, and this only serves to confirm His judgment against them?
In chapter 18 the LORD might be addressing these very questions. He reminds Judah that “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation…turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” However, their response so astounds Him that He challenges them to “Ask among the nations, Who has heard the likes of this?”
Our verse for this week is Lamentations 3:22-23: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Jeremiah 16 through 18. Now let’s read it!
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.