As we looked at Jeremiah 9:23-24 last week:
23 This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.
We seen in the context that people were not obeying, and God said .later in Jeremiah 31:31 and the parallel passage in Ezekiel 36 that He would give us a new heart and cause us to walk in His statutes (Eze 36:27). This is the new covenant. This week we will look at another angle what Jeremiah is exposing.
What exactly is Jeremiah saying that knowing Him means? Hopefully we have the understanding that (vs. 24) We know that He is the Lord (if we don’t have the understanding that’s a whole different discussion), He exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, He delights in this. We know He delights in this. So why is it so significant that we know these attributes about Him?
Scripture exposes many polar dichotomies with in its pages. Ultimately we can’t fully understand the brilliance of light without darkness. We don’t truly understand hot apart from cold. The main thrust of our boasting is in the mercy of God. Why is us knowing this mercy is so significant? Because we are in such need of it. I’m not so convinced I see God as holy as He really is because I (we) are so prone to bring Him down to our level and though we say He is holy most days we’re not so convinced we are in such need of His mercy. Jeremiah is making the case that to truly know God, to “know that He is the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness” means we understand how much we need His forgiveness. The fear of a holy God is a lot of times the furthest thing from our minds. We (hopefully) are quick to run to verses like “true love casts out all fear” (1John 4:18) and “we love because He first loved us” (1John 4:19) but a lot of time the fear of God is left on the shelf. I’m not so convinced that we can know the mercies or love of God unless we see and first understand “the fear of the Lord”.
Luke 12:1-7 talks about the leaven of the Pharisees and how it is so subtle and Luke reminds us not to fear what those who can kill the body and after that have nothing else they can do, but he warns us who we should ultimately fear. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes I tell you, fear him!” He goes on to explain further how much God cares even for the sparrow so He cares for us so we shouldn’t fear, but don’t miss the point or the context. Don’t fear what others can do to you, he adds in 12:8-12 don’t be scared of acknowledging Christ before men, if you’re going to fear anything fear Him that has the power to cast into hell (12:5).
To bring this back to Jeremiah’s point and his rebuke in context is, if we know God and we are going to boast that we know God and that He is the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness it will be revealed in our obedience (9:13-14 in context). Not an obedience driven by fear but as the apostle Paul would say an obedience that comes from the heart (see Rom 6:17; 7:6) (the new heart, the new covenant, the new creation) that is revealed in the mercies of God, that He delights in. This reveals truly knowing Him as He is. If we are confessing to know Him, we understand “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7), this truly knowing Him will be revealed in obedience from the heart, a desire to glorify Him in all we do (1Cor 10:31).
I hope you are encouraged by the fact that our God is full of mercy and as much as He condemns boasting (Rom 3:27, Eph 2:9, James 4:16 to name only a few), He declares that if we are going to boast, lets boast about Him being Lord, that He exercises, kindness, justice for in this He delights…as we see our great need for these daily. Thankfully He declares His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness(Lam 3:22-23)
I hope God’s Word is finding It’s home in our hearts as we meditate and memorize His word.