From Jeremiah we recently studied about a slaughtered Lamb (Ch. 11-16), a deceitful heart (Ch. 17) and an unrepentant people (Ch. 18-20). From Jeremiah 21-23, we will see how unjust and unrighteous the leaders (shepherds) of Judah were. What is the solution?

Preamble: We human beings are happy when we have a good shepherd and mentor who watches out for us. God expects his people to care for others by doing justice and righteousness (Jer 21:11; 22:3). God is most displeased when his people, especially leaders, use their position to their advantage by using others for their own agenda and benefit (Jer 22:13-14). Worse yet, they do not listen to the word of God or respond to correction (Jer 22:21). Fundamentally, their root problem is that they do not know God (Jer 22:16).

Big Idea: (1) Knowing God = caring for others, the oppressed, the poor, the widows, the fatherless, the foreigner. (2) Do justice and righteousness…or you will experience God’s justice and righteousness (Jer 23:1-2). (3) God promises a truly just and righteous messianic king will come and save his people in a new and spectacular way (Jer 23:3, 5-6). (4) Jesus is our good shepherd (Jn 10:11).

 

Big Question: Can’t God do with you (Israel) what the potter does with the clay?  [The Potter and the Clay: YOU Be Reshaped or Be Shattered; YOU are always personally responsible to repent; Divine sovereignty vs. personal freedom; God’s immutable plan vs. man’s (apparent) freedom of choice]

“He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’  declares the LORD. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel’”  (Jer 18:6). “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster (ra’ah) for you and devising a plan against you. So turn (shub) from your evil (ra’ah) ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions’”  (Jer 18:11). “But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil (ra’ah) hearts’”  (Jer 18:12).

  1. Wet Clay (Jeremiah 18): Repentance is still possible.
  2. Dry Clay (Jeremiah 19): The time of repentance is past.
  3. Response (Jeremiah 20): “Let’s beat him up good and shut him up!”

Key QuestionsHow is your heart? What is the foundation of our well being?

Big Idea: (1) How to be blessed (or cursed) should be the most important question of our life. (2) The condition of our heart always dictates and determines the state of our ultimate well being or blessedness (or sickness). [Next week, we shall cover Jeremiah 11-16 for Easter Sunday: A Weeping Gentle Lamb.]

Thank God for grace--the key that unlocks the Bible (Tit 2:11-15). Thank God who abundantly blessed our Easter retreat at Abbey Resort last week (3/31-4/2/17)! Thank God for the three sisters of mercy, love and grace (Eph 2:4-5). Thank God that grace begins with Grace Fitch and that even Jim--the serial killer--is forgiven by grace. May the grace of God be real to us and be the solid foundation that sustains us to live righteously at present and in the future and forever.