Items posted on 24 September 2014
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Jeremiah 36.1-3 and 22-23 – The call to repentance
Posted: 24 September 2014 in Jeremiah

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.

A central theme of the Old Testament is about nothing so much as mankind’s continual rebellion against God. And yet, also to be found in the Old Testament, there is God’s ongoing call for repentance. But, as the second quote mentioned above indicates, men, with their corrupt hearts and sinful ways, will always reject that call. They have no desire to recognise, or submit to, the Lordship of God, and prefer instead to be their own lords. They are no more capable of repenting than a man with a broken leg is capable of walking the four miles to the nearest hospital. If he happens to be located somewhere nobody is likely to find him, then he will die. Our state is as desperate as that man’s. Unable to help ourselves, we can only come to God if the Lord first of all creates in us the desire to do so.

It is a matter of common experience that not all men do, in fact, have their hearts remade in that way, and some are left to suffer the eternal punishment, which is the just reward of their sin. King Jehoiakim was apparently amongst those to whom the Lord chose not to extend mercy. That fact is a salutary reminder that, at the day of judgment, God will, for the sake of his glory, reveal not only his mercy, but also his righteous wrath and absolute sovereignty.

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