December 15: After the Storm
Jeremiah 29:1–30:24; Romans 6:1–14; Proverbs 20:13–30
As we blink and squint in the light that emerges after a storm, we marvel that the sun was there all along and we just couldn’t see it. The same is true during times of difficulty. When we’re in pain or worried, it seems impossible to find God, but in retrospect, it always seems obvious: God was there all along.
Jeremiah prophesied to God’s people about their unraveling. The people heard words from Jeremiah’s mouth that must have seemed hopeless and full of despair. But in Jeremiah 29, we catch a glimpse of the light that comes after: “Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and father sons and daughters … and multiply there, and you must not be few” (Jer 29:5–6).
Even in exile, God will continue to guide His people. Because of their sins, they have endured (and lost) war and been driven away from the land that God gave them; but God remains with them nonetheless. They may need to experience the pain of exile to understand the consequences of turning away from God, but God still plans to be good to them. He will provide for them.
We witness a parallel picture in Rom 6. After describing the death that sin brings into the world and the current sad state of humanity, Paul presents a full vision of living without sin—of conquering the very problem that drove God’s people into exile: “What therefore shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, in order that grace may increase? May it never be! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:1–2).
Even with the grace God has offered us, Paul encourages us to live the vision God has created through Jesus—one that strives to be sinless. Likewise, Jeremiah does not offer empty words without the command that God’s people follow Him with their entire beings (Jer 29:8–14).
We have all made mistakes. We’ve all lost ourselves in the storms—in storms we caused and storms that came upon us for no apparent reason. But what’s certain in both instances is that God is with us and desires for us to be one with Him.
What storm are you currently in, coming out of, or anticipating? What is God teaching you through it? What is He asking of you?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Now these are the words of the book of that Jeremiah the Prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the Elders, which were carried away captives, and to the Priests, and to the Prophets, and to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captives from Jerusalem to Babel. (After that Jeconiah the King, and the Queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah, and of Jerusalem, and the workmen, and cunning men were departed from Jerusalem) By the hand of Elasah the Son of Shapahan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babel to Nebuchadnezzar king Babel) saying, Thus hath the Lord of hosts the God of Israel spoken unto all that are carried away captives, whom have caused us to be carried away captives whom I have caused to be carried away captives from Jerusalem unto Babel: Build you houses to dwell in, and plant you gardens, and eat the fruits of them. Take you wives, and beget sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters, that it may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the prosperity of the city, whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for int he peace thereof shall you have peace. For thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, Let not your prophets, and your soothsayers that be among you, deceive you, neither give ear to your dreams, which you dream. For they prophesy you a lie in my Name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. But thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years has be accomplished at Babel, I will visit you, and perform my good promise you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts I have towards you, saith the Lord, even the thoughts of peace, and not of trouble, to give you an end, and your hope. Then shall you call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hear you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, because ye shall seek me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord, and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places, whither I have cast you, saith the Lord, and will bring you again unto the place, whence I caused you to be carried away captive. Because ye have said, The Lord hath raised us up Prophets in Babel. Therefore thus saith the Lord of the King that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwell in this city, your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity. Even thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence: and I will make them a terror to all kingdoms of the earth, and a curse, and astonishment, and an hissing and a reproach among all the nations whither I have cast them, Because they have not heard my words saith the Lord, which sent unto them by my servants the Prophets, rising up early, and sending them, but ye would not hear, saith the Lord. Hear ye therefore the word of the Lord, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babel, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah and of Zedekiah thee son of Maaseiah, which prophesy lies unto you in my Name, Behold, I will deliver them unto the hand of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babel, and he shall slay them before your eyes. And all they of the captivity of Judah, that are in Babel, shall take up this curse against them, and say, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah, and like Ahab, whom the King of Babel burnt in the fire, Because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbor’s wives, and have spoken lying words in my Name, which I have not commanded them, even I know it, and testify it, saith the Lord. Thou shalt also speak to Shemaiah the height of Zion, and shall run to the bountifulness of the Lord, even for the wheat and for the wine, and for the oil, and for the increase of sheep and bullocks: and their soul shall be as a watered garden, and they shall have no more sorrow. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old men together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrows. And I will replenish the soul of the Priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, A voice was hear on high, a mourning, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord, Refrain the voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy: And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own borders. I have heard Ephraim lamenting thus, Thou hast corrected me, and I was chastised as an untamed calf: convert thou me, and I shall be converted: for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was converted, I repented, and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son or pleasant child? yet since I spake unto him, I still remembered him: therefore my bowels are troubled for him. I will surely have compassion upon him, saith the Lord. Set thee up signs: make thee heaps: set thine heart the path and way, that thou hast walked: turn again, O virgin of Israel: turn again to these thy cities. How long wilt thou go astray, O thou rebellious daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth: A WOMAN shall compass a man. Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God if Israel, Yet shall they say this thin in the land of Judah, and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity, The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice and holy mountain. And Judah shall dwell in it, and all the cities thereof together, the husbandmen and those that go forth with the flock. (Jeremiah 29:1-30:24)
- What shall we say then? Shall we continue still in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live yet therein? Know ye not, that all we which have been baptized into Jesus Christ, have been baptized into his death? We are buried then with him by baptism into his death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we be planted with him to the similitude of his death, even so shall we be to the similitude of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin, For he that is dead, is freed from sin. Wherefore, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died once to sin: but in that he liveth, he liveth to God. Likewise think ye also, that ye are dead to sin, but are alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sign reign therefore in your mortal that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: Neither give ye your members, as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin: but give yourselves unto God, as they that are alive from the dead, and give your members as weapons of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under grace. (Romans 6:1-14)
- Love not sleep, lest thou come unto poverty: open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone apart, he boasteth. There is gold, and a multitude of precious stones: but the ilips of knowledge are a precious jewel. Take his garment, that is surety for a stranger, and a pledge of him for a stranger. The bread of deceit is sweet to a man: but afterward his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Establish thy thoughts by counsel; and by counsel make war. He that goeth about as a slanderer, discoverth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. He that curseth his father or his mother, his light shall be put out in obscure darkness. An heritage is hastily gotten at the beginning, but the end thereof shall not be blessed. Say not thou, I will recompense evil, but wait upon the Lord, and he shall save thee. Diverse weights are an abomination unto the Lord, and deceitful balances are not good. The steps of a man are ruled by the Lord: how can a man then understand his own way? It is a destruction for a man to devour that which his sanctified, and after the vows to inquire. A wise King scattereth the wicked, and causeth the wheel to turn over them. The light of the Lord is the breath of man, and searcheth all the bowels of the belly. Mercy and truth preserve the king: for his throne shall be established with mercy. The beauty of young men is their strength, and the glory of the aged is the gray head. The blueness of the wound serveth to purge the evil, and the stripes within the bowels of the belly. (Proverbs 20:13-30)