Jeremiah gives some brief glimpses of the ultimate future time of glory. In today’s chapter we read, “At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather together to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart” (3:17). Those seeking God with a genuine heart were encouraged and excited by this prospect.
Jeremiah contain parallels with the self-centred attitudes seen today. The prophet’s life had begun in good circumstances; he was born to be a priest and the word of God first came to him as a young man in the reign of Judah’s last good king, Josiah. Josiah initiated repairing the Temple (2 Kings 22:5), during which repairs the High Priest report that “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD” (verse 8), which prompted dramatic reformations initiated by the King. In the eighteenth year of his reign a great “Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem” (23:23). It was a dramatic early start to the life of Jeremiah. It compares a little with my own teenage years when I witnessed the dramatic re-establishment of Israel as a nation after nearly 1,900 years in oblivion. But ungodliness has grown since then! Those unenlightened by the word of God, have little confidence that the world has a long term future. And this became Jeremiah’s experience too when the nation of Judah had no future.
Josiah is killed just 13 years after this Passover; from then on, Jeremiah preaches in hostile circumstances until the destruction of Jerusalem. Initially God granted him a brief period of “peace” to gain strength under the reign of a good king. His book is not in chronological order; yesterday’s and the start of today’s chapter reflect conditions near the end of his life. He was distressed at the godlessness surrounding him when the people “refuse to be ashamed” (3:3).
Today, the broad way that leads to destruction has never been more evident. We need strength of heart and conviction of mind to stay on the narrow path, there are distractions on every side, especially for the young. Let’s look to Jeremiah as our role model, sharing the vision given him of the throne of the Lord being established in Jerusalem and the time when all people will “no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart”. Those who are doing that now will not be there.