17 February 2016

Jeremiah 3:14-18

“Return, O faithless children, says the Lord, for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” (v. 14)

Psalm: Psalm 37:12-29


At the end of the book of Jeremiah we read "so Judah went into captivity, away from her land" (Jeremiah 52:27), but among the condemnations and the growing sense of doom contained in the prophet's words there are shafts of remarkable hope.

Here, as God pleads with the people to return to Zion, we catch a glimpse of what is being prepared way into the future. When those who have dallied with false gods are replaced with leaders after Yahweh's own heart then, not surprisingly, the people's faith will be strengthened.

But the astonishing move is that God, after speaking out as an abandoned lover in a divorce court (Jeremiah 2:1-13), seems willing to take Judah back. According to the book of Deuteronomy that's detestable (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) and yet God's heart is so firmly fixed on Judah that God cannot let her go.

In addition, says Jeremiah, under this new covenant, the people will have set their hearts on God. Ultimately, the presence of God will be found not in the Ark of the Covenant; indeed people will forget all about it. They will be drawn to Jerusalem - both Israelites and Judeans - to share in an inheritance.

Eventually it's not just the Ark that is destroyed. Jerusalem goes as well and the people go into exile.

All the time Jeremiah is calling them back into a relationship with God and offering the hope of a New Covenant, written on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

In these few verses the scope of God's covenant presence and promise grow exponentially: what was contained in the Ark of the Covenant will move into the city of Jerusalem and then into the land "I gave your ancestors for a heritage" (v. 18). Ultimately, as the new covenant is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, it is released globally in all those whose hearts are set on fire … but it begins "one from a city and two from a family" (v. 14).

To Ponder

  • What feature of worship helps you sense the presence of God?
  • What have you had to let go of in order to allow God in? What happened?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.