25 The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 2 So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: 3 For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.
4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”
7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”
(Jeremiah 25:1-7 NIV)
Chapters 24 and 25 are a transition in the book of Jeremiah. Yesterday we looked at Chapter 24 and the two baskets of figs as an object lesson with a twist.
Chapter 25, particularly verses 1 – 14, provide a summary of this entire time of history and the majority of Jeremiah’s ministry. We will look at the first section of this overview today (vv. 1-7), and cover the remainder of the summary the next time (vv. 8-14).
Jeremiah begins this section with a specific date (verse 1) and a time period (verse 3). The date is 605 BC, the year that Nebuchadnezzar took over Judah. Jeremiah has been faithfully preaching God’s Word for 23 years, with no change in the peoples’ hearts and no seeming action on God’s part to bring these “doomsday” messages to pass. By human standards, Jeremiah’s ministry has been a dismal failure.
Just as the Lord had promised, the day of judgment is upon the people of Judah. Egypt (the known enemy) is suddenly replaced by Babylon (the unknown enemy). The opportunity to turn back to the Lord and preserve their spot in the Promised Land has now passed, and judgment has begun.
As we will see in the next section, Jeremiah will start (verse 8) with “Therefore,” thus detailing the Lord’s judgment. As a preface, however, Jeremiah summarizes the Lord’s efforts through himself and his fellow true prophets to faithfully bring God’s people back in fellowship with the Lord.
It would be very easy at this point to put on our self-righteous hats and say, “If I were living in Jeremiah’s day, and had someone like Jeremiah preaching all the time, I would have repented and turned to the Lord seven times over.”
In the same way, we criticize Peter for denying he knew Jesus, and tell ourselves that if we were there, we would have stayed by Jesus’ side through thick and thin, even risking our lives for His.
As the old saying goes, “There is none so blind as those who will not see.” The trouble with our blind spots is that we can’t see them. What will future generations say about us? What is the Lord doing in plain sight in our day that we refuse to see or recognize, and that future generations will look at us and say “The Lord was so evident in their midst, and yet they were oblivious to His message and calling and refused to repent.”
May we always remember that we’re not primarily human thinkers, human doers, or human believers, but human beings, made in God’s image and likeness, most importantly to be in constant communion with Him and in community with other people. And yes, as human beings, part of who we are includes thinking, believing, and doing, but those are not the sum of who we are in Christ.
May we pursue first things first. Only as we recognize that our relationship with the Lord is primary do we begin to understand His message and our calling.