Jeremiah 23:24 – “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? Says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? Says the Lord.”
In Monday’s devotion, Pastor Peter explained how the southern kingdom of Judah had been conquered by the Babylonian Empire, carrying the people of God into exile. After this occurred, the prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the Jews in exile and encouraged them to build houses, plant crops, get married, have children, and work for the peace and prosperity of their new home.
But…it didn’t have to be that way. Well before exile, God’s prophet Jeremiah had been warning Kings, Priests, and residents of the Southern Kingdom to return to following God.
So when I read today’s verse, I can’t just read it as an amazing description of God’s presence in the world or something that gives me comfort that God deeply knows me.
Because while God does deeply know me and God’s presence in the world is amazing, when this verse is taken in context, it is a warning. God is saying this through Jeremiah to false prophets who have been telling people that things will be fine without the need to stop worshipping false idols or change their behavior.
It’s a warning where God is saying, do you think that I am not aware of what is going on? That you are misrepresenting me? That you are not living out the life I have called you to?
It’s a warning that tells us, there is only so long you can go in the opposite direction from God before life will start getting really complicated. For the people in the Kingdom of Judah, that meant they were conquered by a neighboring empire. Maybe complicated is an understatement. Anyway, Jeremiah tells the people to get comfortable in Babylon. It was going to be a while before things got sorted out enough for them to go back home.
That holds true today doesn’t it? The messes we get ourselves into, don’t always get immediately resolved when we realize we’ve screwed up and seek forgiveness from God. More often than not, we have to spend some time getting our lives untangled. Repairing relationships. Learning from what has happened and working to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
But for as messy as that is, thank goodness we have a God who wants to forgive us and who desires for us to truly learn from the mistakes we make. Thank goodness we have a God who calls on us to not hide our mistakes but instead let what God has done in our lives act as a lesson for other people to learn from, just as we learn from the witness of those we read about in the Bible.