Jeremiah’s Loving-Kindness

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Again, the promise of the New Covenant was first given to the children of Israel. Gentiles who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are “grafted in,” and as grafted-in branches, they become partakers in all the blessings promised by God to the Jewish people…

Jesus was born a Jew of Jewish parents in the Jewish homeland of Israel. Growing up, He lived as the Jewish people of His day lived, following the Jewish laws, rituals and customs of the Torah. He began His public ministry by proclaiming Himself to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 61, a prophecy heralding the Messiah who was to come. His disciples were all Jews, and His ministry on earth was devoted almost entirely to proclaiming the Good News to His own people. – Jonathan Bernis

I’m going to divide Chapter three into two blogs because it is so long… And first half of the Chapter contains the only section of verses which we really ever hear quoted from the Book of Lamentations… But the whole Book is the Word of God, and we need the Oil of the Full Council of God in our lamps if we are ever going to stand in these Last Days… And, so, I share what you will never hear talked about from the high profile pulpit or a pop culture social media ministry.

I am the man who has seen affliction because of the rod of His wrath. 2 He has driven me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. 3 Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day. 4 He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, he has broken my bones. 5 He has besieged and compassed me with bitterness and hardship. 6 In dark places He has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead (Lam 3:1-6 NASB).

The Prophet speaks here as a representative of the nation and an intercessor. And thus, Jeremiah was a type of Christ, the True Intercessor.  He Who knew no sin entered into the penalty of our sin in order to make proper Intercession for those who have Faith in His Atoning Sacrifice.

The LORD promised healing to His People as long as they followed Him. Conversely, if they did not follow Him, there would be no healing.  Even though these were God’s chosen People, still, sin would destroy them just as readily as it destroyed the pagan of old—the flood.

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex 15:26 NLT).

He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. 8 Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. 9 He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. 10 He is to me like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in secret places. 11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces; He has made me desolate. 12 He bent His bow and set me as a target for the arrow. 13 He made the arrows of His quiver to enter into my inward parts (Lam 3:7-13 NASB).

As the LORD had taken great measures to bless His People, now He takes great measures to do the very opposite. This is a tough pill to swallow, no doubt, but it is meant to be corrective rather than merely destructive.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Ps 66:18 ESV).

If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Ps 66:18 NLT).

The target once was Israel’s enemies. Now Israel has turned to be the enemy of Jehovah God, and, therefore, the “target for the arrow.”  The LORD shoots the arrow to the place where the sin begins—the inward parts.

I have become a laughingstock to all my people, their mocking song all the day. 15 He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. 16 He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. 17 My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. 18 So I say, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.” 19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. 20 Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me (Lam 3:14-20 NASB).

The word “bitterness” actually refers to “bitter troubles.” And “wormwood” means “to curse.”  The phrase “He has made me cower in the dust” is a figurative expression of great humiliation.  The “happiness” or “prosperity,” as translated elsewhere, addresses spiritual prosperity.  Jeremiah may, in fact, be directly quoting from Psalms here.

LORD, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your Face from me? (Psalm 88:14 KJV).

Judah, because of spiritual compromise and even outright rebellion, forgot that her “strength” and “hope” were in the LORD. He was the Source of all her blessings.  But being lifted up in pride, she began to think that Jehovah would not and could not abandon her, because of her unique place and position as His special People.  The “remembering” is the state to which the Holy Spirit desires to draw the person.  He wants the person to remember the cause of the “affliction” and “misery” resulting in “the wormwood and the gall.”

My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!   Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar (Psalm 45:4-5 NLT).

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. 22 The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. 26 It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. 29 Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope (Lam 3:21-29 NASB).

Jeremiah’s statements thus far concerning Judah have been of despair, but now God’s Promises of Mercy and Grace come to his “mind.” Only this can give him “hope,” is this is the only True Hope.

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I have gone with the multitude, I went with them to the House of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude who kept holyday (Psalm 42:4 KJV).

As the Prophet enters the Intercessory role, he will now learn that God Himself, in the absence of all outward spiritual fellowship, is a sufficing portion for Faith, and even in the face of what looks like catastrophic defeat. The Holy Spirit directs Jeremiah’s attention—and Judah’s—away from their plight to “the LORD’s Mercies.”

“The LORD is My Portion” proclaims the fact that anything and everything that one truly needs is found in the LORD, and only in the LORD.

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: You maintain my lot.  The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage (Psalm 15:4-6 KJV).

Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach. 31 For the Lord will not reject forever, 32 For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. 33 For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. 34 To crush under His feet all the prisoners of the land, 35 To deprive a man of justice in the presence of the Most High, 36 To defraud a man in his lawsuit— of these things the Lord does not approve. 37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? (Lam 3:31-38 NASB).

Even though he is filled with reproach, and, as Job, is ridiculed by others, still, he knows the LORD and they don’t. They have no saving Faith, no Holy Spirit to write God’s Law on their hearts.  They are not Children of God.

Jehovah God does not afflict in a malicious spirit, as man does. Men afflict in order to hurt, but God afflicts to help, to bring us to maturity in Him.  In this instance, the “prisoners of the land” refers to the unhappy Jewish captives of the Babylonians.  Even though they had terribly sinned and were, therefore, under the just judgment of God, still, He would not allow them to be “crushed.”  And ultimately, He would deliver them.

The Most High is the Heavenly Supreme Court. No matter what the individual had done, as Judah, if they will sincerely repent, the LORD will guarantee Deliverance and Restoration, and will not “deprive men of justice.”

“The LORD does not approve” means that regardless of what those without a saving Faith say, the LORD will not “approve” of their denial of Mercy and Grace to all who repent and seek after Him in obedience or that he can and will use them for His Glory. Through Jeremiah, the Holy Spirit asks, “Who is he who says it can, when God says it cannot?”

And the opposite is true as well. It is a fearsome thing to speak presumptuously in the Name of God.  It’s no small matter.  The LORD does not say He will, when He won’t.  Neither does He say He won’t, when He will.

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.  Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? (James 3:8-11 NASB).