Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jeremiah's Turning #11: Hard As Stone

Following the word “turn” (שוב) through Jeremiah’s prophecy.

“O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent [שוב] (Jeremiah 5:3).

They became like what they worshiped: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them” (Psalm 115:4-8).

The Lord responded to this hardness in two ways:
  • The prophet preached a message that went unheard by the decree of God: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: “Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.” Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed’” (Isaiah 6:8-10). By this way, this passage is one of the most-quoted in the New Testament (Matthew 13:14,15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26,27; Romans 11:8). The principle does not change between the Testaments because God’s plan to save a small group of the elect from the mass of idol-worshiping humanity does not change (neither does their idolatry change). “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
  • The prophet was made just as hard as they were: “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel, nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you; yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint I have made your forehead. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house.’ Moreover, He said to me, ‘Son of man, take into your heart all My words which I will speak to you and listen closely. Go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not, “Thus says the Lord GOD”’” (Ezekiel 3:4-11). John the Baptist was raised up to be this kind of preacher. His message was not vanilla, easy-listening, and it certainly didn’t tickle the ears (2 Timothy 4:3).

Repentance is the gift of God (Acts 5:31; 11:18), enabling His elect to respond to the preaching of His Good News of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross alone (Acts 2:36-38). The gift of repentance is the blessing of God given through His Son (Acts 3:26).

Though salvation is impossible to achieve by human beings (Matthew 19:25,26; Mark 10:26,27; Luke 18:26,27), God is able to bring anyone to repentance. So we prayerfully and lovingly – but immovably in the truth of the Word – appeal to the human rocks with the Gospel, hoping God will use the Word to bring them to repentance and faith: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

No comments: