Today’s passage emphasizes the incisive impact of the prophetic message, as Jeremiah draws a sharp contrast between the choice figs of the early harvest and inedible fruit.
Pray: Gracious God, Your Word is a lamp to my feet and the glue that holds the universe in place.
Read: Jeremiah 24:1-10
Consider: “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).
Think Further: The opening verse of Isaiah promises a “vision.” The opening to Jeremiah promises “the word of the Lord.” The opening to Amos speaks of “the words” of Amos which “he saw.” Between them these ascriptions convey that a prophet is fundamentally a visionary whose task is to convey in words what they see. Today’s passage typifies that process; it also emphasizes the incisive impact of the prophetic message, as Jeremiah draws a sharp contrast between the choice figs of the early harvest and inedible fruit. God likens this effect of his word to “fire” or “a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” (Jer. 23:29). Prophets tend to see things in stark terms. They can make us uncomfortable, but we need such voices still.
Jeremiah notes a division between those who are taken off to exile in Babylon and those who remain in the land or relocate to Egypt. The former are faithful and the latter are not. It is not that Jeremiah is pro-Babylon; he is pro-faithfulness. Those who go to Babylon are God’s people, not because of their politics but because they have turned “with all their heart” (7). Their wills are engaged with God’s will. That is the ground of their identity (7). There is no middle way on the question of our will and God’s will.
This passage can seem discomfiting. Many who are left on the land are left not as a result of disobedience but simply because they did not get rounded up by Nebuchadnezzar (1). At the same time, those who go to Babylon are faithful because God gave “them a heart to know” him (7). The prophets never back away from the sovereignty of God over all human affairs, even when it seems unfair. The words of God sometimes puzzle rather than clarify
Apply: Set before God in prayer a situation known to you that seems puzzling or unfair. Tell God you trust him in spite of that.
Closing Prayer: Father, I rest in Your lordship over all things. Sometimes life seems baffling and confusing, but I rest assured nothing will separate me from Your love.