The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3
Jeremiah prophesied these words during a time of Babylonian supremacy over the known world. The sinfulness of God’s people in the Old Testament usually resulted in their submission to a conquering nation. Rebellion toward God resulted in surrender to another power. (There’s a lesson there, but for another day).
The Babylonians weren’t interested in rehabilitating God’s people. Babylon’s interest was self-interest. They wanted to take over the world. They were the conquering empire of the day having defeated the Assyrians. Their only motive was to take as much as they could and to keep it under control. God used people who were completely uninterested in the well-being of His people to teach His people.
It’s easy to portray biblical prophets as all gloom and doom. They are often presented as borderline lunatics wearing sandwich signs proclaiming, “The end is near.” They were the original sources of hellfire and brimstone preaching. Yet, every prophet in the Bible speaks a message of hope and reconciliation. This passage is no different.
God through Jeremiah reminds the people that He has shown His grace and mercy to them in the past. It was undeserved then and it’s undeserved now, but that’s the nature of grace. God loves His people with an everlasting love – a love that will never change regardless of what we’ve done. As long as we have breath in our bodies, God will give us another chance.
Then, God says, “I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” God doesn’t drive us with guilt and fear and shame. Those are the devil’s tools. God doesn’t back us into a corner – turn or burn! God draws us out with His kindness. When we deserve the stick, God gives us the carrot.
God knows who He is. He is not threatened by our sinfulness. He is greater than our sinfulness. God doesn’t need to make us feel bad about ourselves. We already feel bad about ourselves, and if we don’t, then we will soon enough. Life is just that way.
But, this may sound too good to be true. The people of Judah received the assurances of this prophecy (Jeremiah 30-31) while they were headed toward captivity. It would be about 60 years until they saw their deliverance. But, in the middle of their situation, God extended His mercy, His grace, His compassion and His kindness to them.
What are you in the middle of? Do you feel like God is on your side? God wants to love you. God wants to forgive you. God wants to help you. Ask Him to show you His kindness today.
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