As we finalize our journey preparations today, we need to consider one final aspect of the book of Jeremiah – specifically, how the Old Testament book of Jeremiah relates to us in New Testament times.
The first thing to remember is that the same God who called Abraham to live a holy and separated life and multiplied his descendants like the sand on the seashore is the same God who desires to walk with you and me today.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all existed before Creation, in Jeremiah’s day, and today (in our day). Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that God is the same “yesterday and today and forever”.
When we focus on the Trinity, we see God revealing Himself throughout the Bible, from eternity past in Genesis and the Gospel of John chapter 1, through eternity future, in Revelation. In the Old Testament, we see God ruling His people through human prophets, priests, and kings. God’s relationship with His people was a theocracy, where God was ruler over all. He used humans like Moses, Samuel, and David to fulfill those roles.
In Jeremiah’s day, God used Jeremiah, a priest and prophet, and Josiah the king to have a positive influence on His people and lead them wisely according to God’s directions. There were also many negative examples of prophets, priests, and kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord.
In the New Testament, we see God ruling His church through the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King, Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law and removed the barrier of sin that kept people from direct access to God.
Another point to consider is the audience being addressed. As we scan the book of Jeremiah, we see Jeremiah addressing the nation of Judah. Sometimes Jeremiah spoke to the nation of Judah as a whole. Other times Jeremiah spoke to the leaders as representatives of the nation.
In our New Testament day, our scriptural equivalent to the nation of Judah is the church. When Jeremiah addresses the nation of Judah, we should think of the church. When Jeremiah addresses the leaders of the nation, we should think of the church leaders, in our day, namely the elders and the pastors as representatives of the church.
Please realize that when I make these general comments, they are guidelines and not “hard and fast” rules. Because of the differences between Old and New Testaments, there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between the message to the Israelites and the church today.
As we approach the book of Jeremiah, may we not see a history lesson, a long, dry, dusty volume with names we cannot prononce and dates we struggle to calculate.
Instead, may we instead see God’s heart, as God called His people to Himself. And may we see Christ calling us to Himself in our day.
Jeremiah’s message from God to His people was clear: turn back to God. The Apostle Paul echoes that same sentiment in the New Testament:
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV)
May you and I heed God’s call today.
And may revival and restoration begin with you and me.