Jeremiah is not an easy book to read. I feel for the guy, and for the people of Israel and Judah. But even more, my heart grieves for God that His own people, the beloved of His soul, would chase after false gods and the pseudo-pleasures of this life. Truth be told, we are no different than Israel and Judah, and God’s heart still grieves for the wandering soul.
Day after day, and year after year, Jeremiah warned the people of God that unless they repent, they would experience the discipline of God at the hands of their enemies. God had been patient, offering mercy to penitent hearts, but still Israel and Judah sought to dig the empty wells, and hold onto the broken jars, of their own selfish pursuits that would never satisfy; it would only lead to a famished soul.
The very thing they desired and chased after, is the very thing God allowed them to experience. From the outside it looked as though they were prospering; living life to the fullest. Even Jeremiah seemed dumbfounded when he asked God, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; You are near in their mouth and far from their heart.” Jeremiah 12:1-2
That’s the lie of the enemy, Satan, isn’t it? He has a way of making that which is toxic at the core look like a delicious desert. He promises the riches of the world that are alluring, while turning your eyes away from the small print disclaimer that speaks of the true price you’ll pay.
God reminded Jeremiah that what looked like prospering and thriving was really a people dying. And it broke God’s heart. He would step back and give His own people over to their ruthless enemies who they had become like. And the reason God was willing to do that was so that Israel and Judah would come to their senses (repent of their sins) and see that only in God is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. (See Psalm 16:11)
For God to step back and watch His people choose the lesser things over the immeasurable treasure of being in relationship with Him, grieved Him. “I have forsaken My house; I have abandoned My heritage; I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.” Jeremiah 12:7
He disciplined them because He loved them. I realize that seems an odd statement, especially in today’s culture where discipline has gone the way of rotary phones. Even now some of you are even wondering “What are rotary phones?” But the writer of Hebrews sheds some light on why God would discipline us as His children when he says, “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives . . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. For the moment disciplines seems painful rather than pleasant (can I get an “Amen”), but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ” Hebrews 12:6, 10-11)
For those who have placed their full trust in what Jesus Christ did on the cross so that we might be forgiven of sin and have a relationship with God, you are His beloved!
He has proven that by giving the beloved of His soul, His only son Jesus, into the hands of the enemy; not because Jesus was disobedient, but because He would be the sacrifice for our sin, our rebellious disobedience. Jesus, by taking on our sin, was rejected and abandoned by His own Father, while on the cross, so that we would not have to be. It is in Christ we find forgiveness of sin, the fullness of joy, true treasure, and an eternal inheritance that is being kept for us until the day we see Him face to face. It is in Christ that we are the beloved of His soul.
So, if you are at a place in life where you are more like Israel and Judah, digging empty wells and holding broken jars; chasing after what will never really satisfy, but will only leave your thirsty soul famished, come back to the true Lover of your soul; to the One who calls you His beloved.