1 – “ These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon…” “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, ESV)
RAF: So how are Christians to live in this present state of exile, when we are still not yet in the New Jerusalem? Live life. Do not retreat. Do not hide. Build houses, plant crops, marry, have kids, and let your kids get married and have kids – and don’t decrease. And we are seek the welfare of the place where we are. To bless the community around us. To pray for the society in which we find ourselves and do not run from it or curse it. For God has appointed that in its welfare, WE will find our own welfare.
2 – “Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.” (Jeremiah 31:4, ESV)
RAF: See the spectacle of the mercy and grace of God in His salvation. Who can take one who has in every way betrayed her husband in adultery, acted like a prostitute, in fact, went beyond that and paid other men for her illicit desires to be fulfilled, turned her back on perfect love and every blessing and faithfulness: and so restore her, so as to call her “virgin” again? This is the miracle of God’s saving grace. Not that we should just be forgiven, but that we should be pronounced righteous, pure – “virgin.” If that does not make you weep for joy, nothing will.
3 – ” “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, ESV)
RAF: Christ inaugurated this “new covenant.” He did so in his own blood, procuring all its benefits. Note how wonderfully unilateral it is. How it depends wholly upon His faithfulness, as opposed to ours: a. I will put my law within them. A shift from an external code, to an new kind of law, an internal law of nature that accords with God’s holiness. b. I will be their God. None in the New Covenant will run after other gods. We are HIS! c. Each one in the New Covenant “knows” God. One cannot be in this covenant apart from a personal knowledge of God – without a right relationship with Him. d. Our sinfulness is forgiven, as well as the sins which flowed from our sinfulness. He is a complete Savior. Oh what a glorious salvation we have.
4 – What continues to be amazing in these chapters of Jeremiah, is both the absolute reality that God must and does deal with sin, especially among His people; and also His constant reminders that no matter how harshly He does deal, there are are both the tenderest expressions of forgiveness offered with pleas for us to repent, and vivid expressions of great hope of restoration and the good he plans to do. It is a marvel. Our God is so good. So faithful. So willing to forgive and bless. We are fools when we think of Him as harsh, unyielding and cruel. We are liars. We are still listening to the Devil in Eden. God, is good.