First Mennonite Church
January 9, 2022
Text: Jeremiah 33:1-16
There Is Still Hope
Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own skin, not being the same person you were until just recently—strong, abled, and well? Or, because you cannot any longer dream, or hope, or look forward to things you would like to do? Have you wondered why don’t you feel the closeness to God as you felt before?
The day is certainly coming, says the Lord . . ..
Have you ever wished for the old days, when things were simpler or when you could move unrestrictedly? Have you ever felt like wanting to feel at home and yet feeling like something is still missing but you cannot figure out what it is?
The days is certainly coming, says the Lord . . ..
Have you ever felt like your sense of security has been violated, yet the intruder is something beyond your control that you feel overpowered and helpless against it?
The day is coming, says the Lord . . ..
Have you felt like if the world as you knew it doesn’t feel like it anymore? Have felt like a stranger in your own land?
The context of Jeremiah
The world around the prophet Jeremiah was disintegrating before his very eyes. He was in prison and not for any wrongdoing. The majority of the land of Judah had fallen into the hands of the Babylonians, Jerusalem was besieged, the people inside the city were dying, and there were competing prophetic voices, contradicting Jeremiah’s words.
In Jeremiah 32, we are told that the prophet was in prison because the king was not pleased with Jeremiah’s prophecy. He had said that Jerusalem would fall into the hands of the Babylonians and King Hezekiah would be held captive by the invading army. Although, still in prison, and while parts of Judah had come under Babylonian conquest, Jeremiah got a word from the Lord. The Lord instructed Jeremiah to buy a plot of land. God’s command to Jeremiah must have sounded, to any sensible person, like the most foolish thing to do. It was completely irrational for Jeremiah to purchase a piece of property in the village of Anathoth, when the Babylonians had already captured it and while Jeremiah was in prison. In chapter 32, details of the transaction disclosed. Jeremiah paid 17 shekels of silver, was given the title of the property; Jeremiah sealed a copy of the deed and placed it in a jar to preserve it for a long time. This seemingly irrational act of Jeremiah was, he repeatedly said, because “thus said the Lord.” That symbolic act of purchasing a piece of land, although irrational and incomprehensible as it was, was God’s assurance that he will bring back his people after a period of time. There is a future hope. And the day will come when the people of Judah will once again buy land, plant vineyards, and raise herds that will graze the valleys and so forth.
That message of reassurance of God’s promise to restore his people continues in chapter 33, which is our passage for today. In this chapter we find the well-known words given to Jeremiah: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ However, these words were preceded by an important declaration of the one who speaks them. And any claim to this promise must first consider its very context. It was a time when devastation and catastrophe were on the horizon. Hence the importance of these words: “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: . . ..” Jeremiah was reminded that God was not oblivious of what was happening. God was fully aware of everything that was going on, and we might say, he, even, was behind everything that was happening. Jeremiah’s world was crumbling under his feet. Jeremiah must have felt that every wall of protection, including that from God, was collapsing around him. The invading army had sieged Jerusalem and the inhabitants were dying by the sword, famine and plague, all of which, was God’s judgement on his people. Yet, at the same time, God wanted his people to know that it was not the end. A day of hope lay in the future.
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me
In the towns and cities, the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord. There will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. And . . .
In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
We need to be reminded once more who spoke these words. “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name.” In Hebrews, chapter four, verse 12, we read: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. God’s word is a double-edged sword. It brings judgement, but it also breathes life. The word of God convicts of sin, but also affirms the grace of God.
When we look at everything that is happening around us, we see a world besieged by all kinds of trouble. Just as Judah came under God’s judgement because of its deeds of unrighteousness, so is our world. God’s ultimate remedy for his people was to give them a Redeemer. A Branch will sprout and he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior. He will do what is just and right in the land. Judah will be saved.
Obviously to us, this is a reference to Jesus Christ. He is Redeemer and Lord. And today he offers us rest and peace. If you answered yes to any of the questions I asked at the beginning, this is what the Lord has for you: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If you feel incomplete, confused, or tired about everything that is happening, the Lord wants to give rest and peace. The Lord wants to walk alongside you. He wants to take your burdens, fears, and sense of hopelessness. The Lord wants to give joy and hope, once more.
The Lord knows how to minister to you today. So, I want to invite you to join me in prayer. Let us yield to the Lord everything we are feeling today and everything that is heavy in our heart, be it physical, mental, spiritual, relational, or whatsoever. The promised day of God’s deliverance is today. The Redeemer is here with us today and his name is Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Amen!