I have been reading through Jeremiah this week. It is not the easiest of books for me to read through. I think a big reason for the difficulty is that it not only exposes me to the sins of Judah and other ancient nations, it also raises the strong likelihood of sin around me and more strongly, sin in me. If I am going to grow as a disciple, I need my sin exposed. But I need more than just exposure. Those thoughts made the words of Jeremiah 12:14-16 get my attention this week:
Thus says the Lord concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: “Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. (15) And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land. (16) And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people.”
The verses are focused on the sinful people around Judah who have brought evil and false gods into Judah. God is declaring that He will expose their sin. Being plucked will make that clear to everyone. But after God does that, He will have compassion for them. Exposing and convicting of sin is never God’s end game. He exposes our sin to bring correction into our lives. A correction that is filled with compassion. And the point of the exposure, correction, and compassion is to bring us to the place of repentant worship. That is the point of “to swear by my name” in verse 16. Instead of pursuing other things, like the false god of Baal, God seeks to move us to the place of true worship of the true God.
Reading Jeremiah might be hard, but it also offers me insight into how God works and the goal of His convicting work in my life. He wants to free me of the false things that damage my soul and the people around me and bring me to the place of worshiping God alone, so His goodness and love fill my life. That is a much better place to be. Please join me in receiving the gift Jeremiah offers us.