[Optional longer reading: Jer. 14:1–17:4]
Most teachers would agree with the old Latin saying, Repetitio est mater studiorum, which means, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” It usually takes repetition before a lesson will stick.
God did the same for His people through Jeremiah. Once again in today’s passages, we are met with the familiar theme of rebuke over sin and warning of judgment. Like their forefathers, Judah had forsaken God, followed other gods, and remained in stubborn disobedience. Even the prophet’s plea for God’s mercy fell on deaf ears (14:7–9). Jeremiah recognized Israel’s covenant faithlessness, but nevertheless turned to God, the “hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress” (14:8). Yet in response, God reminded them of their unrestrained sin and their coming judgment. In chapter 16, God handed them over to what they wanted: to worship false gods all day long, this time in a foreign land. It would seem that Judah’s sin had reached a climactic point of no return. God’s mercy was exhausted.
Or was it? Just when it seemed all hope was gone, we find within this dark message a new theme: grace. Briefly, but clearly, God hinted that after the imminent punishment, there would be a day of restoration to their land (16:14–15). Just as God once brought Israel out of Egypt, so again He would bring them out of the hands of the northern oppressors.
God’s grace is even bigger than that. Not just would Israel be restored, but all nations “from the ends of the earth” (16:19) would one day stream to the Lord, confess their idolatry, and be taught to know the living God. How marvelous that such dark warnings of coming judgment could also contain such glimmering promises of abundant grace!
Apply the Word
Praise God that we worship One who, even in His discipline, does not abandon His grace to us! The author of Hebrews also reminds us of this lesson: “Do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves” (12:5–6). Try committing these verses to memory or write them down, to be reminded of God’s grace.