4/5 — Read, turn, and be forgiven

Jeremiah 36:1-8 ESV
[1] In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: [2] "Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. [3] It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin." [4] Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD that he had spoken to him. [5] And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, "I am banned from going to the house of the LORD, [6] so you are to go, and on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the LORD's house you shall read the words of the LORD from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah who come out of their cities. [7] It may be that their plea for mercy will come before the LORD, and that every one will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and wrath that the LORD has pronounced against this people." [8] And Baruch the son of Neriah did all that Jeremiah the prophet ordered him about reading from the scroll the words of the LORD in the LORD's house.

God told Jeremiah to write all the words that He had spoken to Jeremiah from the days of Josiah — which is essentially all the words of the Book of Jeremiah up to this point. And God wanted the words to be read out to all the people of Judah.

What was God’s intention behind this? It is clearly revealed in v3: that the people of Judah may hear, and thus turn from their sins, so that God may FORGIVE them — which would include God’s relenting from His wrath that He was intending for them.

Forgiveness and mercy was the goal!

When we read the book of Jeremiah we may feel like we’re being sent off on a 52-chapter-long guilt-trip. Jeremiah is one of the most convicting and uncomfortable books of the Bible to read. It lays our our sins and nature of our idolatry bare than perhaps any other book of the Bible.

But what is God’s main heart and intention behind these words? We must understand the heart of God behind these words that cut us open like a thousand razor blades.

Did God write these down to throw a wet-blanket over us? To just leave us feeling condemned and accused, so that we feel so utterly hopeless, that we may just go and wallow in our sins a little more? Because if the wrath of God will be poured out upon us, then it’s all hopeless — “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die”?

No. Those words were written for the purpose we may turn from our evil way. And what’s the purpose of turning from our way? So that we may experience the amazing forgiveness of God.

The end goal is not condemnation. It is not even turning from our sins in itself. But it is that God may forgive us our sins. That is what God wants, in His core. He wants to forgive. As a response to these extremely convicting words, God wants us to bow before Him and ask Him for mercy, so that He can show us His abundant mercy. God’s intention is mercy. God delights in showing it!

It is important to know this intention behind the ‘hard words’ of the Scriptures. Because if we don’t, we will only hate the Word of God, like the king of Judah did:

Jeremiah 36:22-24 ESV
[22] It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. [23] As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. [24] Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments.

When we don’t understand the divine purpose of the ‘convicting words’ of Scripture — repentance and resulting forgiveness — those words will only make us angry, confused, or just send us off in a guilt-trip and into the traps of Satan’s accusations, making us to drift further and further away from God. But none of those things are what God desires.

So then, let us read, turn (our list of evils to turn from never run out!), and thus experience the glorious forgiveness of God afresh, every day:

Micah 7:18 ESV

[18] Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.


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