Yesterday we joined in Jeremiah’s plight in the cistern during the war and I’d like to continue that journey today.
When we left Jeremiah yesterday the Ethiopian Eunuch, Ebed-melech, had stood up for him and rescued him from the muddy cistern where he had been left to die by the ruthless princes. Jeremiah had been safely returned to the court of the guard where he was still a prisoner. He was fed and clothed and dry and still able to interact with the people who remained in the city.
Today’s Word of the Day starts with the pronouncement that The Chaldeans had finally breached the city. Just as God said they would. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, gave a command concerning Jeremiah: “Take him, look after him well, and do him no harm, but deal with him as he tells you.”
I just find it incredibly interesting that Jeremiah’s own people falsely accused him, threw him into the dungeon, a muddy cistern, and prison while the pagan king of Babylon not only sets him free, but commands his soldiers to “look after him well” and to “deal with him as he tells you”! Talk about respect for a man of God! But I guess we also have to remember that these are also the people who were on the winning end of the prophecy Jeremiah was sharing. (And not the other way around.)
Anyway, as we begin reading chapter forty of Jeremiah we find the captain of the guard taking Jeremiah aside and saying to him,
“Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well, but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go.” Jeremiah 40:4
After all this time and all this struggle with his own people, it’s the enemy that sets him free. Well, no, not really; it’s GOD that sets him free through the Chaldeans. God has used the very thing that was causing Jeremiah’s people so much turmoil to set him free from the chains that bound them all. And he was free to go wherever the LORD led him. And he was so respected by the captain of the guard that if he chose to go with him, Jeremiah would be well taken care of. In other words, the captain would continue protecting him from his own people who had so obviously turned on him.
Isn’t it such a glorious story? It reminds me of yet another glorious story of a man scorned and shunned by his own people. He was a man who was falsely accused, thrown in a pit and eventually executed even though he had done nothing wrong in His entire life. I’m talking, of course, of Jesus. And it was through His bondage that we have been set free; free indeed. It is through His stripes that we are healed. It is through His obedience that we are made right with God. It is through His sacrifice for our sin that we are forgiven. It is through His Grace that we are made whole. It is through His Spirit that we are able to discern truth and lie.
By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. Paul said that. Paul, the one responsible for the murder of Stephen. Paul, the man who led the hunt for anyone who claimed to be a Christ follower. Paul, the one who got knocked off his high horse so hard that it changed his life. Paul knew what he had done. And he knew what all he had been forgiven for, all of it. God’s grace covers so much more than what we like to give it credit for. We in our fleshy humanity love to take responsibility for things and take credit for things that we didn’t have anything to do, and pass the blame whenever we can. God’s grace covers all of that. God’s grace breaks the chains that bind us to the prison of sin. And when we really truly grasp the enormity of His forgiveness towards us, well, it changes you. Changes you beyond anything you could hope or imagine.
By the grace of God you are what you are. HUMAN. Faulty, frail, forgetful, inconsiderate, rude, mean, spiteful… Although sin may about, His grace abounds all the more and swallows the sin up as if it were never there to begin with. That’s GOD! That’s GRACE! That’s FREEDOM! That no matter how bad we’ve been in the past, there is no sin that is “too bad”, “too big” for God to forgive it; to forgive YOU. He loves you sweetie.
Surrender to His love for you today and just listen to the clattering of the chains as they fall off your arms. When you choose Jesus, you are forgiven. Now go and through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling within you, sin no more. You have become the righteousness of Christ in this world, live like it.
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) by Chris Tomlin