Big idea: A Heart To Know God…even when things fall apart and the darkness is coming (Jeremiah 24-28)

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).

Jeremiah lived during the worst period of his nation's history. He predicted and saw with his own eyes the defeat and destruction of his people, city, temple and nation. Two peoms--by Yeats and Dylan--perphaps capture in words their dire situation. Two lines best sum up their times (and perhaps our times as well): Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.

The Second Coming, W.B. Yeats, 1919 

Things fall apartthe center cannot hold;

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!”