“Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds. But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’” – Jeremiah 18:11-12 (NASB)
Not too many days ago we considered the illustration of the potter which God gave to Jeremiah. From the same passage we learn how the people facing conquest, destruction, and exile respond to the lesson. Warned and exhorted to pay attention to the plans of God they call such action “hopeless.” It is a dangerous thing to hear a warning from God’s Word and to hear such exhortations and say “No thanks, we have our own plan to follow.” Jeremiah brought them to the point where they actually stated their condition honestly. The prophet’s threats were useless because they were so far gone—abandoned to their sins and the penalty. All hypocrisy was abandoned in favor of honesty, without repentance. Let’s not go there. Israel could have repented and avert judgment but they were so far down the rebel path even Jeremiah was told to not pray for them. Let’s listen to God and learn from this lesson to heed God’s instructions. After all we are the clay and He is the potter. He is making us into beautiful and useful vessels. Let’s be the clay and become the vessels God wants us to be.
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)
The verse selected for today is often a favorite. Many take the promise in this verse as if it is given directedly to each believer. In a much larger sense it is true but not in the primary sense. Jeremiah, was sent to give God’s messages and warning to the His people in the Kingdom of Judah. (The northern Kingdom of Israel was gone and its people dispersed.) Warnings of conquest and destruction were repeatedly given to them by God through Jeremiah and each was ignored, mocked, and disregarded. They treated Jeremiah treacherously with malice and physical torture. But look one verse back to Jeremiah 20:10 we have the necessary context. God promises a time to bring the captives back from Babylon after seventy years in exile. Not all came back but God is promising in verse 11. God promised welfare and no longer calamity. He promised a future and a hope. While not directly in this verse, God has promised each believer a future and a hope. We too have this promise of welfare and not calamity from God from God. We find these promises many places. He gives us hope that is absolute and never disappoints.
““Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.””– Jeremiah 18:6 (NASB)
Potter’s clay has no plans of its own. Sitting as a lump on the potter’s wheel it has no aspirations for service nor reluctance to perform its given task. It’s simply clay. Moldable, pliable, totally submissive to the will of the potter. Do we sometimes become excited and say or think, “I’ve discovered my strengths and gifts and now I know how I can serve God best.” Or, perhaps there are times that we see our failings and we might say or think, “My weaknesses are so great I know what tasks I’m not capable of doing in service to God.” This isn’t a characteristic of clay and God isn’t limited to use only our strengths. He can use our weaknesses if he chooses to. God knows us and he will shape and form us in love to be the people to do what he gives us to do. God doesn’t need us to be perfect or in condition. He needs us to be humble and submissive to do His will. We are like clay in His hands just as Israel was described in our verse. Trust today that God promises to use us perfectly for His will.
“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.” Psalm 40:5 (NASB)
“As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant…” Jeremiah 33:22 (NASB)
Let’s think about the times we have been outside at night looking up at the stars. Ever tried to count the ones you can see? Most of us have at least once. Men like Brahe, Kepler and Galileo in the seventeenth century gave birth to modern astronomy. Up to that point Hippocrates had said there were 1,022 stars. Ptolemy said, “No, there are 1,056.” Kepler said, “You’re both wrong. There are 1,055.” If they had read Jeremiah 33:22 and Psalm 40:5, our verses today, they would know that the stars and other wonders of God can’t be counted. Those of us who are true followers of God can remember times when God has shown his greatness as He takes care of our needs. We know of His greatness for others who believe His words. As David wrote the words in today’s verse and He was thinking of what God had done⸺already now many centuries ago. God has never ceased to show Himself in the same way and does so all the time throughout the centuries. The promise we carry today is that no other person or entity can compare to Our God, He is the only One.
“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and caught; Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, And what kind of wisdom is in them?” – Jeremiah 8:8-9 (NASB)
Throughout Scripture God makes promises that are either judgments or warnings of the same. That is what we find today in our passage. One of God’s prophets delivered a grave warning. It was a critical time for the Kingdom of Judah. Even the scribes and religious leaders were spinning the Word of God into lies and led the people deceitfully and away from God. Pretending they were wise; God promises shame and dismay and exposes their foolishness. Why is this happening in Churches today? Because preachers of the Gospel are rejecting the Word of the Lord. They deny inspiration by God the Holy Spirit, and they deny its authority. picking and tossing bits and pieces from it away they choose to disbelieve God. It’s simple, for those who reject the Bible and claim it is not the infallible Word of God do so to avoid responsibility to live by its truth. God says to them, “So, exactly what kind of wisdom do you think you have now? For you have none.” All they have is promised shame. Let’s be forewarned, if we have a weak view of Scripture, God promises we will have a weak interest in it.
“Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” – Joshua 21:45 (NASB)
“For thus says the Lord, ‘Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.” – Jeremiah 32:42
Every word spoken by God is a promise. Each day this blog takes a few minutes for each of us to think about God’s promises. Blessings or judgements we discover His promises in the passages and verses of Scripture. Today, we consider two passages regarding God’s promises. The first, given to Joshua after he lead Israel into the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). The land of the Canaanites became the land of the Israelites by the decree and judgement of God. Joshua declares every word of every promise made to Israel came to pass. Zero promises of God’s failed to happen all came to pass. From 1385 B.C. to 561 B.C. for nearly 825 years the Lord God had patience with the Israelites. Success (few) and failures (many) in respect to their faithfulness to their LORD God. While Joshua had proclaimed God faithful in fulfilling his promises, Jeremiah spoke for the Lord another promise that has yet to be fulfilled. God promises that after the great disaster, brought as His judgement on Israel, He would fulfill all the good promises as well. These promises will be fulfilled at the End Days.
“Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name:
“If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” – Jeremiah 31:35-36 (ESV)
Jeremiah was the prophet God sent to delivered many messages to the people of Israel and Judah prior and during the time Babylon conquered Judah, sacked Jerusalem and exiled most of the population. Besides the many dire warnings, there were promises of blessings also. God promised restoration, a new covenant in chapter 31. To seal its authenticity, God affirms it by the unchangeable order He established of the earth and the heavens. If the light of the sun and moon, and the tides of the sea were to cease, then Israel would cease to be a nation before Him. But such is NOT possible, the order of the Earth was set by God and it is fixed. So too, the promises of God are sure and no force can change them. What God has promised is as sure as the sun rising in the morning, setting in the evening, and the moon continuing its order of controlling the tides and ocean waves. Because God holds creation in His hand in perfect order and for His name’s sake will not abandon it. Let’s trust because our God is a promise maker and keeper.
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:4-5 (ESV)
God’s call of Jerimiah as a prophet, contained a message intended to motivate Jeremiah for the task God was giving him. Take a moment to recognize that this passage reveals to us God’s omniscience – that is, His knowledge of everything past present and future in our time frame. God tells Jeremiah that He had selected him to be His prophet even before Jeremiah had been formed in his mother’s womb. God has plans for His own that are made before our existence. The promises he has given to us have been given decades and centuries before we were conceived and born. Let’s not be led astray thinking this is reincarnation or the like. This is not reincarnation; it is God’s all-knowing cognizance of Jeremiah and God’s sovereign plan for him before he was conceived. The word ‘knew’ means far more than intellectual knowledge. It conveys the sense of God’s close personal loving relationship with Jeremiah and with us. Trust this promise because God says that before the foundation of the world was made, God chose us in Him. We’ve been in God’s plan for longer than we can comprehend. He has done all for us in love (Ephesians 1:3-14).
“Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” – Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)
Our verse comes from the story in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. The prophet purchased a plot of land from his cousin even though the Babylonians were nearly at the gate of the city. The anticipation was that soon Jerusalem and all in the Kingdom of Judah would be conquered and taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. This truly did come to pass so Jeremiah’s real estate purchase seemed fool’s errand. But it wasn’t foolish, because God had directed him to purchase this piece of land. Thinking through the wisdom of his legal transaction bewildered Jeremiah and he goes to God in prayer. Notice how he first extols the sovereignty of God. “Nothing is too hard for you,” is what Jeremiah says. He acknowledges God’s directions in buying the field even “though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.” The promise that nothing is too hard for God is a promise we take to heart today. Whatever God leads us to do, if we know God is indeed giving us that direction, we can know its outcome will be what God intends it to be. Let’s trust God no matter what He has given us to do.