BaptistWay: God’s promised restoration

• The BaptistWay lesson for April 20 focuses on Jeremiah 31:27-34, 32:1-15.

My 2-year-old daughter is obsessed with “boo-boos.” When she gets a bump or a scrape, she is sure to tell me and ask for a band-aid. She wears it proudly and shows everyone any time she gets a chance. In her mind, she has a boo-boo for as long as her afflicted area does not look normal. It does not matter if the pain has long since subsided; she still points out boo-boos to me and others while they are visible. She understands boo-boos are not supposed to be there and is waiting until there is nothing left to see before ceasing to call attention to them.

The older we get, the more used to and accepting of boo-boos we become. It’s common to ignore pain in our muscles, backs and legs. We get to the point where we no longer notice scars obtained in our younger days or minor sores we hardly feel. The longer we live, the more we realize this is part of life. No one gets to live boo-boo-free. Children are young enough not to have been tainted by the injuries and aches that come with age and experience. Their fresh perspective reminds us we were not created to showcase imperfection, and one day God will redeem all he has allowed.

The coming days (Jeremiah 31:27-34)

Jeremiah describes what this time will be like in 31:27-34. This passage offers a reminder God has been involved in all his people have faced: “‘Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,’ declares the Lord” (v. 28). This was just in God’s scheme of judgment. The children of the generation that went into exile would be given a chance to serve God without suffering for the sins of their parents (vv. 29-30).

Not everyone gets this chance in an immediate way. While working as a part-time tutor at an inner-city school during seminary, I encountered children firsthand who were suffering from the sins of their parents. Gang violence, teenage pregnancies and drug use were common among the kids I saw from day to day. None of them had made a defined choice to fall into these things. Most simply were caught up in a cycle of doing what everyone else around them was doing. I often thought about how unfair it was that many of these kids were in situations simply because of what their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did.

But “the days are coming … when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and of Judah” (v. 31) declares the Lord. Christians believe the inauguration of that covenant is expressed through the person and work of Jesus.

However, in spite of its inauguration, we still are anticipating the fulfillment of all it promises. Verse 34 expresses what seems to be a dream to many of us: “… they will all know (the Lord) from the least of them to the greatest.” Scholars argue over how we are supposed to interpret that tidbit of prophecy. They’re not sure whether it refers to all Jews (regardless of their faith in Christ), or to all (Jew and Gentile) who have put their faith in Christ. I’m not sure of its specific meaning either, but I am sure of what it overwhelmingly implies: We can trust God is good and is working to redeem all wrong.

The proof in the pudding (Jeremiah 32:1-15)

It’s one thing to say that, but it’s quite another to live it out. Where’s the proof? Jeremiah was faced with providing proof of his prophecy when King Zedekiah captured him (v. 3). Zedekiah couldn’t understand his confidence during a time when things looked hopeless for Jeremiah and his people. Then Jeremiah let him in on an even stranger piece of information: As commanded by God, he had purchased a field at Anathoth that belonged to his uncle. The only reason he did this was because he knew this word was from the Lord (v. 9).

This would have seemed ridiculous to Zedekiah. As the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem (v. 2), Jeremiah was buying a field that soon would fall into the hands of an enemy ruler and cease to belong to anyone affiliated with Jeremiah. This would be ridiculous if not for the promise that went with the command to do this: “… houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (v 15).

Doing something ridiculous

Jeremiah proved he believed God’s promise by doing something ridiculous. By all accounts, that is what we do when we try to love the unlovable, feed the hungry, visit the prisoner and share Jesus with those who do not know him. To think anything we could do or say could fix someone’s problems is ridiculous. It’s like putting a band-aid on a festering, infected wound.

As we live, we become more aware of the various kinds of wounds people struggle with. As we do, we can hold firm to the vision cast by 2-year-old girls intent on exposing and healing boo-boos. God will redeem all he allows, but the proof of that lies in our enduring actions of today.

Jeremiah bought a field to prove God’s faithfulness to the world. What will you do?

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