It’s Thursday afternoon, I am back from our Bible study class and brimming over with Jeremiah thoughts…
Two of the key verses we discussed today were, Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NASB):
23 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. (Emphasis mine)
These verses are the culmination of a message that spans three chapters, 7 – 9. To boil it down, God tells them not to rely on anything except understanding and knowing Him. Nothing else but relationship with Him can save.
From the beginning of chapter seven up until these verses God tells His people that they have been trusting in everything but Him. They’ve been counting on the fact that they have God’s temple in Jerusalem, that they’ve been offering the appropriate sacrifices, that they have God’s law to save them from the coming judgment. They were doing all the right things, but their hearts were not right. They were offering their temple sacrifices (as they should) and then going out to steal, commit adultery, lie, and worship false gods (7:9-10). In other words they didn’t understand and know their God and because of that judgment was imminent.
The word “know” is sprinkled throughout the first nine chapters of Jeremiah. In all but one place it really refers to the fact that God’s people do not know Him. Their sin had separated them from Him and they were not willing to return, repent and know Him. It reverberates through the chapters like a heart cry of God…His own people did not know Him. The people He created. The people He called as a nation. The people He led out of Egypt and gave the land of Israel. The people who built His temple. Instead of obeying the voice of the Lord and following God they pursued the depths of sin leading them further away from Him.
But there was that one man…the first use of the word “know”, was Jeremiah 1:5a (NASB): “Before I formed you (Jeremiah) in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;”
What a mind-blowing statement! God knew Jeremiah before He formed him in the womb. Before his earthly life began in utero. Before He was wrapped in flesh God knew Jeremiah. The hebrew word for know is yada. It can refer to everything from simply knowing facts to being aware of something to knowing intimately (as in a husband knowing his wife). When God tells Jeremiah He knew him, it is an intimate knowing, a oneness of the two. That is what God is crying out for with His people in chapter nine, and all the other chapters leading up to it. He is telling them He wants to be one with them. He wants intimate relationship and fellowship with them. And dare I say, He wants it with us.
Know Me. Know Me. Know Me. It echoes through the first nine chapter like a lament. Like a husband crying out for his wandering wife (Hosea). Like a father calling out for his lost children.
Isn’t this also the message of the gospel? The message of grace? Know Me. He gave His Son simply to make a way for us to know Him. To fully give ourselves to relationship with Him. To know Him completely and be known by Him completely. To have relationship with Him based on who He is, not what we do.
In the past I have really only thought about the gospel in terms of being forgiven of my sins (my behaviors) and going to heaven. Basically I reduced it to Behavior Management. Now that doesn’t sound like the abundant life Jesus promised, does it? the truth is, it’s so much MORE, and it’s SO MUCH BETTER! Abundant life is Christ living in us – us completely knowing Him and Him completely knowing us – being one with Him. Now that’s a mind-blowing thought!