Jeremiah 1:13-14 The word of the Lord came to me again: What do you see? I see a pot that is boiling, I answered. It is tilting toward us from the north. The Lord said to me, From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.
God was going to pour out his scalding judgment on Judah from the north. We should imagine a massive cauldron of boiling water, that when poured out, would destroy everything in its path. The agent of God’s judgment is identified elsewhere as the Babylonians (Jeremiah 32:24). They would completely destroy Judah in Jeremiah’s lifetime.
The Bible is filled with images that are meant to terrify. They are not always meant to be taken literally, but are always meant to be taken seriously. Time and again we learn that God does not make idle threats. The only appropriate response is to believe his word and take refuge in him.
Jeremiah 5:25 [Y]our sins have deprived you of good.
When the people of God were about to enter the Promised Land, God promised blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-68). They chose to disobey and were deprived of the blessing they might have received.
This is like a father who bought his son a car for his sixteenth birthday. But the night before his birthday, the son came home drunk. Then the father realized that his son was not mature enough to have his own car, so he put it up for sale. The boy’s sin deprived him of the good his father had planned for him.
We can also deprive ourselves of good if we are not careful. [N]o good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless (Psalm 84:11), wrote the Psalmist. And, godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8), wrote Paul.
There is a price attached to every sin, and it’s higher than we think. It includes the purity of heart that leads to a deeper relationship with God; and who knows what other blessings we might forfeit? If we saw the real price attached to sin, we would be less inclined to buy. But we can take God’s word for it, and enjoy every blessing that he has for us.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me.
The Apostle Paul referred to this idea more than once. [We] boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:11); Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31); And, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).
This is all we have to boast about, and all that really matters. What good is a gold medal on your deathbed? What good is a college degree if you do not know the way of salvation? What good is a million dollars if you cannot take it with you? But whoever knows Jesus Christ will have the best of everything (Luke 23:43), and forever to enjoy it. That is something to boast about!
Jeremiah 16:1-2 Then the word of the Lord came to me: You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.
God called Jeremiah to remain single, in order to keep him from needless sorrow. The future was so bleak that many would die prematurely. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals (Jeremiah 16:4), said God. God told Jeremiah not to marry to spare him the sorrow of watching his family go through this.
Getting married and raising children are God’s plan for most (Genesis 1:28), but not for all. Jesus and Paul were single, and they recommended it to others (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:7). Life is hard for everyone, but marriage and children often make it harder. God may call us to remain single to keep us from future misery.
Jeremiah 17:17 [Y]ou are my refuge in the day of disaster.
Some prepare for disaster by building an underground shelter. Most are rather simple, but one of the most remarkable cost over a billion dollars. It’s an underground mansion, carved out of rock, that is able to survive earthquakes and flooding, as well as biological and chemical attacks. It can even withstand a nuclear explosion. But if your heart stops beating, it will not start it again. And if your lungs collapse, it will not fill them with air. Every earthly refuge has its limitations.
Jeremiah had an unpopular message and was often in danger. He could have run for his life, but he took refuge in God. And when his life was over, he found it had just begun. Blessed are all who take refuge in him (Psalm 2:12), wrote the Psalmist.
Reflection and Review
Should God’s word be taken literally?
How does sin deprive us of good?
What do you think of being single?