God’s Incredible Respect
Jeremiah is a tough, rough book to read and grasp; but well worth the effort.
Its message is broad and deep. It ties back to the rest of the Old Testament, and it undergirds and foretells the New Covenant. It is MUST reading for followers of Christ and students of God’s Word.
Of great importance, it documents, explains, and illustrates – over and over again – how God has chosen to operate in this world. The strength of this message is startling. It is different than advertised,[i] and its implications are far reaching.
What becomes clear is that God respects human freedom. He maintains a strict “non-interference” policy toward us. We are granted the God-given right to make our own decisions and choose our paths. This started with Eve and Adam and continues today. Yes, God maintains a noninterference policy toward human decision making. Blame for the horrors on this planet rests entirely on us.
From start to end, Jeremiah reinforces the terms of God’s covenant with the people of Israel. Leviticus 26 is the essential context for understanding the prophecies and events the Old Testament. It is well worth your time to study and note the downward spiral of punishments that color Israel’s history. The people, through their centuries of rebellion, have reached the 5th, the severest stage of God’s corrective judgement. But the Lord, through Jeremiah, still offers escape through repentance.
“If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned.” 18:7-8
“Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’” 18:11.
This theme of non-interference underpins the whole message of Jeremiah and how the book interprets God’s actions throughout history. God’s offers of relief are woven throughout Jeremiah’s scroll (5:1, 7:3, 11:4, 17:24-25, 22:4-5, 26:13-15, 27:12-13, 38:17-18,20, 42:10). He is in no way belligerent or bullying. He is “slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” The book of Jonah also highlights God as a responder to human choices.
Us followers of Jesus today must get this right. Its implications and applications are seismic for us personally, and for corporate gatherings of churches, missions, etc. It sharpens our understanding and approach to God. Shakes up our prayer life. Heightens our responsibility to know, understand, and assist those around us.
[i]  Much preaching and writing today does not go deep enough into what this paper presents.