I have been known to say (more than once), if I could afford it I would be a professional student. I love learning. I desire to know things, to make sense of things, to figure it all out. But trying to figure it all out, all of the time, is exhausting.
Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3 (MSG)
Blinded and Blindsided
It was an early morning. I was spending time in God’s Word before leaving for class (I was in the midst of yet another educational pursuit). I read this verse and it stopped me short. The gravity of it relative to my current situation was shocking. Was I running hard after the knowledge of this world, all the while missing true knowledge? Was I looking for something where it could never be found, actually where it never resided in the first place…things I could never figure out on my own? How could I be so off course when God had so much more for me, and not even realize it?
If my goal is my own knowledge, then I am stopping sort of God’s purpose. After all, it’s not about me at all. And in making “it” all about me, I am cheating myself as well as others.
With my goal being my own knowledge, the world offers lots of pretty packages. Distractions. I am by no means discounting higher education – quite the opposite. It was a crucial part of my journey. In turn, I have a clearer understanding of the significance of God’s knowledge. Because God knows me so intimately, He leads me perfectly in what I must learn and how I must learn it. He uses all things, and brings together all things for His purposes. (Romans 8:28)
A Closer Look at a War Zone
It Makes No Sense
Let’s get the context of Jeremiah 33:3: The prophet Jeremiah is sitting in jail. His city, Jerusalem, is under siege, being taken captive by the mighty Babylonian army. But in Jeremiahs’s character, He is praying. In chapter 32, God reveals an opportunity to purchase a piece of property, and instructs Jeremiah to make the purchase.
Now from a practical standpoint this makes absolutely no sense. The city is a war zone. Why would he, at this point in time, buy land that would only be taken from him? Wouldn’t it be a waste of his time and money? I can imagine that Jeremiah might have wanted more information from God, to understand the whole plan, or at least the next few steps. If it were me, I would certainly have wanted to figure it all out. But if Jeremiah had questions, the text doesn’t seem to suggest He felt obliged to ask more of God. He immediately obeys. He takes the first step, the only step we see revealed at this point, and proceeds with the transaction.
But soon more of the picture emerges. In Jeremiah 32:14-15 we hear the prophet commanding the property deeds be stored in a jar, “to preserve them for a long time”, because the Lord said “Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.” Ah. Now we’re starting to get somewhere, figuring things out. Oh, but it’s not about my comfort or my figuring things out, right?
Jeremiah continues praising God’s great power, recounting the mighty things God has done for the Israelites. God continues reaffirming His power while pointing out Israel’s disobedience. And as we are flinching from the sting of Israel’s repeated disobedience and God’s justified discipline, verse 37 begins a comforting turn. God promises that just as He brought disaster, He will also bring good (Jeremiah 32:42). God promises to bring His people back. He is faithful. His discipline is perfect, and purposeful. Whew!
Comfort and Purpose
Though God loves us and wants to bring us comfort, He has a greater purpose than the comfort of His people. In chapter 33 we see the Word of the Lord come again to Jeremiah, as he still sits in jail.
At this point God declares three things:
First, God begins with a proclamation of His own sovereignty. We must establish in our hearts that God created all and is the only One we answer to. (Jeremiah 33:2)
Next, God commands Jeremiah to call to Him (Jeremiah 33:3). The Hebrew word qara, translated here as call also means to invite, and to give name. Isn’t that interesting? God commands us to invite Him, to call on His name, through our own free will. It is our choice to call upon Him or ignore Him. But considering He just laid the groundwork for His sovereignty, and reminded us of His greatness as well as His discipline, I would think we might get the point that it is for our good.
Thirdly, God declares restoration. In Jeremiah 33:6-8 God specifically lays out His promises to heal His people, reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth, restore and rebuild their fortunes, and cleanse them from their sin.
Hallelujah! I could stop right there, steeped in my own comfort, rejoicing in God’s greatness and His love for me … but verse 9 … Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. (Jeremiah 33:9)
Oh, precious friend don’t miss verse 9! It’s not about us and that is such good news! We have a purpose beyond ourselves, beyond increasing our own knowledge, beyond our own comfort. We have an eternal purpose, set aside by the Creator of the universe, to make His Great Name known to the world! We get to use our comfort, our knowledge, our lives to join others in knowing our awesome God.
Today I challenge you to begin with reminding yourself of God’s Greatness by praising Him in prayer. Continue to call on the Lord through inviting Him into your moment-by-moment thoughts and decisions. Rejoice in His promises, His faithfulness, His comfort, His knowledge, His goodness. But don’t stop there! Fulfill your purpose today by engaging in God-orchestrated opportunities to point our dark world toward His light.
And all God’s people said … amen!
Until next week,