As I write this, Christmas is drawing near. And as such, my thoughts turn even more than usual to the one who came 2000 years ago. Why did he come? He came not to judge, but to deliver and redeem us from our captivity to sin and to set us free that we might have a relationship with him once again.
As usual, we see a lot of the judgment of God in this passage. God told Jeremiah not to mourn with those who had lost loved ones, because there was no comfort to give. God had withdrawn his blessing from the people. And soon, so many would die that there would be no one left who could bring comfort to others. All would be suffering from pain and loss.
Then he told him not to join in their feasting because all joy and gladness would soon be taken from them. God told Jeremiah to make crystal clear to the people why judgment would come. That it would come because they had turned their backs on God and started serving other gods in the stubbornness of their own hearts.
But then the tone of the passage changes a bit in verses 14-15. And God told Jeremiah, “Do you know how people always look back at how I saved the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians. That’ll be nothing compared to how I’ll bring all my people back from exile into the land I promised their forefathers. People will no longer point back to the Exodus, but the return from exile.”
And that’s exactly what God did. He brought them back from Persia into their own land. And after Rome decimated Jerusalem during the time of the apostles and all the Jews were scattered, 2000 years later, in our very own time, he brought them back into their own land. Why did he do so? To prove to them that he is their deliverer and redeemer, not the gods that they had been seeking. The day will come when all Israel will acknowledge that. And God says concerning them,
“Therefore I will teach them — this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.” (21)
Today, there are many people lost in their sin. Who like the Israelites have turned their backs on God in the stubbornness of their own hearts. But Jesus came to deliver and redeem them. To show them who God really is, that they might know him and have a relationship with him.
So as we look around at the people around us this Christmas, let us keep that in mind, and share with them the good news that they can be delivered and redeemed as well.