Thoughts on Jeremiah 31:3-6
Elfed Godding 05.11.20
Jeremiah was a prophet with an unpopular message. His nation, Judah was facing capture by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the 6th century BC. The trouble was that Jeremiah’s contemporaries like Hananiah were saying ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring you back to this place’. It was what the people of Judah wanted to hear. The trouble was, God was actually saying ‘you will be captives in Babylon for 70 years’, Jeremiah 29:10.
What we want and what God says are sometimes very different things. In this story God’s way resulted in 70 years of outstanding witness through the teenager Daniel and his three friends in the courts of the Babylonians followed by the Medes and the Persians (see Daniel chapters 1-6). Two years we can cope with but 70 years in exile? No thank you!
What the people of Judah had to learn was ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’, Isaiah 55:9. God moves in ways that are good but often beyond our pay grade for understanding. Because we don’t understand we sometimes question God’s actions. Think of Jesus when he was being crucified for our sins and those of the entire world. He cried out in agony from the cross ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ Matthew 27:46. Just because Jesus knew God the Father hadn’t forsaken him didn’t change the feeling that he had.
Jeremiah’s thankless task was to preach to the people of Judah that they must submit to their captors. Not a popular message. This was not without personal cost to the prophet since he was arrested and would have been left in a pit to die if it were not for the bravery of Ebed-Melech, Jeremiah 38:4-13.
However there was another message that God gave the prophet to speak to his nation: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving kindness. I will build you up again’. Jeremiah 31:3-4. Is it possible that God will build his church across the world during a global pandemic? Is it possible that after a series of lock downs in Wales and the rest of the UK that thousands of new Christians will be added to his church? Is it possible that God’s love for his world will win though? Yes it is.
After 70 years of exile in Babylon the people of God returned to their own land of Judah as Jeremiah prophesied. The scene was set for the Saviour of the world to be born in Bethlehem in Judah over 500 years later, Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1.
Bad things happen, but love wins. Jesus said ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’ Matthew 16:18. Remember what Paul the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians ‘Love never fails… these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ 1 Corinthians 13:6, 13.
Let’s take time to pray for the churches of Leeswood and the rest of north Wales to grow as hundreds of men, women and children during lockdown encounter Jesus who ‘loves us with an everlasting love’.
Let’s pray too for members of our own families who are not yet Christians to encounter Jesus.