The book of Jeremiah. Wow. I had many thoughts, amazing insights and timely observations I wanted to blog about as I read through this book. But it was a long book, and they’ve all flown out of my head, which tells me they weren’t all that amazing after all.
So let me quote from Romans instead. My husband attends a men’s Bible Study and they’re working through this New Testament book. He wanted to discuss this passage with me this morning.
“11:16 – and if the root (God) be holy, the branches (Jews) are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, (Gentiles) were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. . . Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.”
Our discussion that followed focused on self reflection. As in: We must above all be kind to our fellow “branches”, and not be arrogant about how far away we think they’ve gotten from the “root”. Instead of being orchard police, or fruit inspectors, we should rejoice that we get to partake at all in God’s garden. We are all just pilgrims on our individual journeys of spiritual growth, and some are farther along than others. We spend too much time fretting over the state of our community, our churches, our country, instead of lifting them all up to God in prayer.
But that was a separate conversation I had with my husband. Here’s the part that pertains to the Bible Sampler quilt book: I lined up that passage out of Romans with today’s passage:
“They (Jews) shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.”
This is from Chapter 32. I might note here that the previous chapters were filled with very bad news. God used gloomy Jeremiah to deliver graphic oracles of destruction to the Jewish nations. The reason? They had gotten far away from their “root”. They would be brutally cut off from God and removed from their land. The punishment was so severe, I found myself feeling sorry for them. I’d have to remember the awful things they were doing while worshipping other gods to keep a balanced view.
But back to comparing these passages. The word that popped out in both is “fear”. In this context, I think it means to respect, have faith in, trust, and obey. As long as we pursue the narrow path, the “one way”; which is believing in His Son Jesus, God takes care of the rest. Forever.
When I was in high school, Larry Norman wrote a song called “One Way” . He’d have us concertgoers lift an index finger to the sky during the song. Later, if we passed by friends while driving around town, we’d lift a finger upwards in greeting instead of waving. It was both an encouragement and a reminder. Good times.