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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 16:19-21

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, November 21, 2014

19 The LORD is my strength and my fortress,
      my refuge in times of trouble.
Nations will come to you from the ends of the earth
  and say, “Our fathers inherited only lies,
  worthless things and unprofitable things.”

20 Can man make gods for himself?
      They are not gods!
21 Therefore I will teach them.
      This time I will teach them my power and my strength.
      Then they will know that my name is the LORD.

These verses are amazing to read, because you take a journey as you read them and consider who is speaking. At first, it is the prophet’s voice in verse 19, and we want to say the words with him. The gospel is so infrequent in this book that any confession of faith is as welcome as a warm day in a bitterly cold winter. But about midway through verse 19, as we read the words “Nations will come to you…,” we wonder: Is Jeremiah still speaking about nations coming to faith in God, or at least to ask questions of God? Or are these things that God is telling to his prophet—that the nations will one day come and inquire of him, the man that Israel has so bitterly rejected because he speaks God’s truth?

Verse 20 could equally come from Jeremiah or from God himself. This shouldn’t exasperate us. It should thrill us. It’s a glimpse of the day in heaven when our thoughts and God’s thoughts will be perfectly in synch, when his will and ours will be the same. Nothing we say, think or do will be sinful in any way. We won’t be robots or mindless automatons. We’ll be his holy children.

When we get to verse 21, we know that God is speaking, but as we look backwards, we can’t see the moment when Jeremiah stopped speaking and God began. But no matter. God is talking about the means of grace, the way that people come to faith and come to understand his power and strength, and even what his name is. God does this in more than one way, but it always involves the gospel. We don’t come to faith apart from the use of his holy word. The word comes to an adult through reading or through teaching, and faith ignites. The word comes to an infant through baptism and there is faith, too, set on fire by the Holy Spirit working through the water and the word. The word comes to confirmed members of God’s holy church also in the Lord’s Supper, where Christ’s promise of forgiveness becomes ours personally as we consume his flesh and blood along with the bread and wine—and the word that accompanies and consecrates those elements: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). So also baptism is for that same forgiveness: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).

Cherish your baptism. Come to worship this weekend to hear the gospel preached once again, and come to the Lord’s Supper soon to be reassured of that forgiveness that Jesus won for you. If you have been staying away for some reason, set it aside this Sunday, and come to worship, Be filled with the grace of God, and the peace of God which transcends our human understanding will guard your heart and your mind through faith in Christ Jesus.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.