Jeremiah 23-24 and Hebrews 3
After all of the doom and gloom we’ve read so far in Jeremiah, in 23: 5-6 we read a promise of the coming messiah, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord our Righteousness.”
This is clearly a promise of Jesus, the heir to David’s throne. Notice in particular the name attributed to the messiah here, “The Lord our Righteousness.” This was especially important because the people of Judah were wicked. They needed some external righteousness, because they weren’t righteous themselves.
In fact, in Jeremiah 23: 14 we read, “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible. They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me, the people of Jerusalem are like Gamorrah.”
The very people who were supposed to be the most righteous, and who were supposed to be pointing others to God, were living a lie. I don’t know if the adultery was physical adultery or spiritual adultery, but either way, they weren’t living the Godly lives they tried to portray. They were living a lie. We would call them hypocrites. And not only that, they were promoting sin in the land so that the people were as bad as Gomorrah in God’s eyes.
When I look around at churches in our country, I see whole denominations who claim to be Christian, actively promoting wickedness. As I look at our country as a whole, I can’t help but see many parallels to Judah in Jeremiah’s day. We seem to be the United States of Gomorrah. In fact, our wickedness is getting so bad that it seems like God either has to punish our nation or He will need to apologize to Judah for punishing them. Because it seems like we are just as bad.
Today’s reading in Hebrews ties right in. In Hebrews 3:12-13, we read, “See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Hebrews 3 goes on to give the example of the Israelites whom Moses led out of Egypt. When they rebelled against God, their bodies were strewn across the desert. (They couldn’t rest on their laurels.)
And this brings us to our application for today.
Fortunately, we aren’t justified before God because of our own righteousness – because we could never measure up on our own. It is by grace we are saved, through faith. Faith in “The Lord, our Righteousness.” And that faith will produce works.
Just like Jeremiah was grieved by the sin that surrounded him, if we are in tune with God, we will be grieved by the sin that surrounds us. It is imperative that we turn wholeheartedly to God. And it is critical that we don’t turn away. And because we are surrounded by such wickedness, we must actively encourage fellow believers to seek God wholeheartedly too. And if we have lived a God-centered life so far, we can’t rest on our laurels.
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Jeremiah 23-24 and Hebrews 3