For Their Good
Jeremiah 21:2 - Jeremiah 25:32
Have you ever had someone say to you, "I'm doing this for your own good..."?
I think I remember my mom saying that once when I got my mouth washed out with soap. I totally deserved it. I said something I shouldn't have, which I won't write down here, because some moments are better kept vague.
It seems like those words, for your good, are the introduction to a consequence you are about to receive for a choice you made and now regret.
These chapters in Jeremiah talk about a moment like that. The verses remind us that every choice has a consequence. If you make a good choice, then the consequence is good. But if the choice is bad, then so is the consequence. You can't escape a consequence.
And you can't fight against it.
That is what the Lord tried to explain in chapter 21 of Jeremiah.
Once the people realized that they were about to receive a consequence they didn't want, they thought that they would look to the Lord after all. They decided to try to escape the consequence by glossing over their mistake.
But it doesn't work like that.
The consequence that resulted from their choice was coming either way ––they could choose to fight against it, or to surrender to the consequence of the choice they had made, learn from the mistake, and repent.
The Lord told them "Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth (surrenders) to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live." (Jeremiah 218-9)
The Chaldeans were coming either way. They could fight against the consequence and die by the sword, or they could surrender to the consequence, learn from it through humility, and live.
The Lord gave a promise to those who were willing to accept the consequence and learn from it. I will "acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down, and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." (Jeremiah 24:5-7)
There are so many powerful lessons about repentance contained within those three verses.
First, the Lord teaches the same principle my mom did ––a consequence is often meant for our good, it is our choice to fight against it or to learn from it.
Second, if we are humble and willing to surrender to the lesson we are given, the experience can both build us and also help us to grow.
Third, true repentance can turn our hearts to the Lord. Through the process we come to know Him. That knowledge leads us to understand that He is our Savior in a way we might not otherwise have learned. For repentance to be complete, we must return to the Lord with our whole heart. Not just a part of it...the whole of it.
I can barely wait for the lesson we will be taught tomorrow. Jeremiah gives great counsel that we can apply to the captivity moments of our lives. It is a lesson on contentment. A lesson on waiting on the Lord. A lesson on hope.
A lesson that will require our whole heart.