Text: Jeremiah 4-6
Through the words of the prophet Jeremiah, we see God’s heart longing for his people, Judah, to cease their rebellion and turn back to Him. He implores them to cut off their wicked practices and “break up the unplowed ground” of their hearts so He can grow something good in them again (4:1-4). Jeremiah personally experiences anguish and terror because of the things he both hears and sees prophetically about the coming punishment that God is bringing on the people of Judah and Jerusalem (4:19).
Just as Judah’s hearts are unplowed and unfruitful, Jeremiah warns of coming disaster that will leave the land empty and desolate--a warrior nation will come from the North that will besiege Jerusalem and terrorize all the people so no one is left unharmed. The end result is a forsaken land where once Judah flourished (4: 23-28).
God contrasts the people of Judah to His other creations. Whereas the seas and land obey his divine authority and order, God says the people do not fear or respect him (5:22-23). Even those in the roles meant to facilitate God’s rule and reign – his prophets and priests –are lying and using their own authority instead of upholding God’s authority (5:30-31, 6:13-15). This rebellion against God’s natural order and authority results in the autumn and spring rains coming out of regularity and dependability so that the food harvest is disrupted (5:24-25).
The Lord implores the people to seek His divine order once again:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (6:16)
Using the poetic imagery of a silversmith (6:27-30), God talks of his people, comparing them to ore, and Jeremiah is testing this metal with the prophetic words and images he receives from the Lord and delivers to the people. But rather than refining the ore to reveal precious silver, all Jeremiah’s fire-y words and warnings do not result in repentance from the people. Therefore, God says he will reject and punish them because evil would not be purged from their hearts and they are not fulfilling their call to bless the nations for God’s glory (4:2).
When the people God chose as His own made the conscious choice to reject and rebel against His rule and authority, they stepped outside the design and order of their divine Creator, who purposed to use them to bless the nations. Jeremiah saw, foretold and witnessed the result of this opposition to God’s purpose and order: turmoil, destruction, desolation.
We see God’s heart pleading with His creation to follow His order so that they could live in the blessings of His plans and purposes; so they could find “rest for their souls”. Ultimately when Jesus came, he perfectly filled the role of prophet and priest to re-establish God’s rule and reign on earth. Listen to his similar words recorded in Matthew 11:29-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God wants us to walk in alignment with His plans and purposes for our lives. When we accept salvation, made possible by Jesus, and when we surrender ourselves to Him and submit to His authority, we are following the divine order he established. The scriptures tell us that this is how we find “rest for our souls”.
Is your life in alignment with God’s divine order? Have you surrendered yourself completely over to God? What areas of your life are lacking peace? Is it possible that these areas need to be submitted to God’s authority?
Father God, you are Lord over my life. Thank you for the peace that comes from submitting to your rule and reign. Help me to enter the soulful rest that you want to give me. Gently show me any adjustments I need to make in my life so that I am more completely in alignment with and in submission to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rest by Wake Worship
Be Still My Soul – sung by Trish Reimer
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.