Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
After King Judah, the officials, and the craftsmen of Judah were exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzer, Jeremiah sees a vision of two baskets of figs. One basket full of good figs and one basket full of bad inedible figs. God explains this vision to Jeremiah: the good figs represent those exiles that God will set his favor on, and who he will return to the land, and the bad figs represent those exiles whom God will choose to destroy utterly.
As I read this passage I was brought to two places:
First, it briefly caused me to wrestle with and contemplate the idea that God chooses some and not others. This concept is all over the Old and New Testaments. It really is an inescapable concept that must be faced and it’s a concept that turns many away from God in anger, with a sense that he is unjust and unfair in his judgments and dealings with mankind. I don’t have time this morning to go into great detail here, but the place that I have landed that some will find simplistic, but that I have found for me to be the heart of the matter, is that first, God is God and I am not. And second, that my sin and the sins of all mankind, are much greater and more serious than any of us can comprehend intellectually, or feel emotionally. So if we had the capacity to see God as he is and grasp his purity and holiness, and then to see ourselves as standing before that holiness and purity, then we would get it. We would get that God’s glory is the rightful and final end to all his judgments and mercies and that none deserve mercy and all deserve judgement, and our mouths would be stopped before the Holy One. If we approached God and these questions of mercy and judgement with humility instead of pride, we would be undone at the idea that he has shown mercy to anyone, we would be incredibly grateful and baffled that he would grant that mercy to me, of all people the most undeserving of sinners, and we would cease to be incensed that he chooses to judge whom he chooses to judge. (See Romans 9:14-33) Much more could be said, but for now I will move on.
Second, this Jeremiah passage causes me to move towards gratefulness and humility because of the mercies that God has shown me and his people. One of the most important parts to notice in this passage is that it is basically a list of “I will’s.” GOD WILL and HAS done these things for his people! No room for boasting; not even a little bit. Below I have listed those I wills and have expounded on them using Scripture to highlight how God, through Christ, has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill those I will’s for his people today and in the future.
- Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans.
- God has regarded his people as good through Christ.
II Cor. 5:21
For our sake he made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
2. I will set my eyes on them for good,
- God has caused all things to work for the ultimate good of his people.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
3. and I will bring them back to this land.
- Through Christ we are inheritors with Abraham of the world!
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
4. I will build them up, and not tear them down;I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
- God builds and sanctifies his church patiently and powerfully and does not tear down his own.
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 5:23-24
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
I Corinthians 3:5-9
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
5. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord,… for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
- God gives his people a heart that knows him and returns to him
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,…
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts ,and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd…. but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
6. and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
- God makes us his and he becomes ours
I Peter 2:4-10
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,” and
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
God has, is and, will always graciously choose his people, build his people, give his people hearts that follow him, sanctify his people, keep his people, fulfill his promises to his people, show goodness to his people, give his people an inheritance, and so much more. And he does it through Christ! Praise and glory be to our God.