THE ULTIMATE CALLING
Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Chuck Swindoll points out that prophets are not easy people to get along with. They never have been. They are always in trouble. They are always making someone unhappy with them. They don't seem to know the meaning of the term, "politically correct."
Jeremiah was no exception to this rule. He preached to a world that was on the brink of crisis. The international superpowers of Babylon and Egypt were on a collision course that threatened to engulf the tiny kingdom of Judah that lay between them.
Within Judah there were two political parties. On the one side was the pro-Egyptian party. They favored an alliance with Egypt. On the other side was the pro-Babylonian party who wanted to remain allied with Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.
In the middle stood Jeremiah. He was the man who stood in the gap. He was the spokesman for God. He was the man for the crisis.
Oh, that my head were waters,
And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
O that I had in the desert a wayfarers' lodging place;
That I might leave my people, and go from them!
For all of them are adulterers, An assembly of treacherous men.
"And they bend their tongue like their bow;
Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:1-3).
Jeremiah has been called the Weeping Prophet. He wept over the sins of his people. He cried out his message to people who were on their way to destruction, pleading with them to turn back to God.
The society in which Jeremiah lived was completely given over to secularism and ungodliness. Premarital and extramarital sex was rampant. A man's word could no longer be trusted as truth and even written contracts were often dishonored. Crime was on the rise. Society was characterized by a lack of knowledge of God.
Does this sound familiar? The society to which Jeremiah spoke is much like the society of today. We are a world in crisis -- airlines falling from the sky, armies and navies threatening destruction and the rumbling of superpowers who are on a collision course. Extramarital relationships, dishonesty, violence and crime are the order of the day.
It is enough to make any sane man want to pack up and move to a deserted island. This must be what Jeremiah had in mind when he wrote the following words:
O that I had in the desert a wayfarers' lodging place;
That I might leave my people, and go from them! (Jeremiah 9:2a).
Verse 3 has describes what I think was the root of the problem of the people to whom Jeremiah proclaimed his message.
"...and they do not know Me," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:3c).
This was a people who had a past that was rooted in a spiritual heritage. They were descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were the children of Israel. God had supernaturally delivered their ancestors from Egypt and preserved them as a foundling nation in the wilderness, giving them their national laws and decrees.
They had deliberately turned away from God. They had willfully determined not to recognize God as God. They had exchanged the one true God for gods of their own making. They had traded the absolute value system that God had given at Sinai for a "new morality" of their own design. They had turned from the wisdom of God to follow after the wisdom of the world.
The result was that they were about to be destroyed. They stood balanced upon the brink of chaos. If ever a passage of Scripture was relevant for us today, this is it.
This brings us to a question. What was the message that Jeremiah preached? If his situation was so much like our own, then what was his answer? What was he able to say to the nation that might have made a difference in the disastrous days that lay ahead?
Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;
Man has dreamed up all sorts of ways to find meaning in life. Some have tried wisdom. Others have turned to power. Still others look to wealth. All of these fall short.
This is illustrated in the case of Solomon. Here was a man who had it all. He was the smartest man who ever lived. He made Einstien and Carl Barth and Stephen Hawking all look like second grade morons. He was the king in Israel when Israel was on top of the world. He had the wealth of the ancient world in his hands. He knew it all. He had done it all. He was the smartest and the most powerful and the richest and in the end it did not mean a thing. It was all empty.
There is only one way that you can remain sane in an insane world. It is the means given in verse 24. It is through the knowledge of God. There is no goal so worthy as knowing God. All other worldly endeavors pale to insignificance next to the goal of knowing God.
This brings us to the next question. If knowing God is that vital, then where do we begin? How are we to know God? It is only through reading His Word. God has revealed Himself to man. He has shown Himself in the Scriptures.
Note that even in the midst of telling of the importance of knowing Himself, God reveals a part of Himself.
"But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24).
Notice how it is that God reveals Himself. He speaks of His character traits of lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness. These are not the only characteristics of the Lord, but these are traits in which He is said to delight. I believe He also delights when these traits are made evident in us.
If you have entered into God's family through the new birth, then you are now His child. It is only natural that there should be a family resemblance with your Heavenly Father.
You probably look at least a little like one or the other of your natural parents. Not only that, but it is likely that you have picked up more than a few of their mannerisms and habits. This is only natural. You grew up with them. Their personalities were imprinted on you from birth.
By the same token, the more you come to know God, the more you will grow to become like Him.
Of course, our knowledge of God is limited, for we ourselves are limited. We are blinded by our sinful condition. But one day the blinders will be taken off. One day we shall see God face to face. One day we shall know God. And knowing Him, we shall become even more like Him.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2).