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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 15:19-21

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, November 13, 2014

19 Therefore this is what the LORD says:
“If you repent, I will take you back
   so that you may stand before me.
If you say what it worthy, and not what is worthless,
  you shall be my spokesman.
They will turn to you,
  but you must not turn to them.

Repentance means being sorry for my sins and believing that God forgives my sins for Jesus’ sake. The sorrow is there because God’s Law has terrified me, and it has made me understand, at least partly, how serious a thing sin is, and how terrible hell’s punishment will be for the devil, his demons, and anyone who rejects Christ. The sorrow is also there because I stand in Peter’s shoes, denying that I know Jesus with the sins I commit, while recognizing that Jesus is looking straight at me, so that I weep bitterly with Peter (Luke 22:60-62). I ask myself, “How could I sin against my friend, my brother, and my God who gave his life for mine?” But that very friend, brother and God speaks to me in his Gospel and says: “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus said: “Whoever believes in me will never die” (John 11:26). So my feeble faith, unable to reach or stretch itself to God, is grasped by the Almighty Christ, who will not let go. Jesus says through Jeremiah: “I will take you back so that you may stand before me.” I will take you back! Was there ever a more beautiful sentence? We don’t deserve this grace, but it is ours through faith in Christ.

20 I will make you like a bronze wall
      to this people,
They will fight against you
  but they will not overcome you,
for I am with you to save you
  and to rescue you, declares the LORD.

Here we have God’s almighty power working for us, protecting us; preserving us. This is the omnipotence of God. Omnipotence means “all-powerful.” David wrote: “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic” (Psalm 29:3). In his omnipotence, God is able to do anything and to accomplish everything. We, Luther said, “do not know the limit or measure of his power” (St.L. XX:940). Christ is with us—this is the very definition of “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)—and why? “To save you and to rescue,” he tells us. Only through the omnipotent work of Christ on our behalf could we be rescued from the inescapable pit of our sins. But there it stands: Christ did come, he did rescue us, and we are saved. This is a deed that is “finished,” as Jesus preached from the cross (John 19:30).

21 I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked,
      and I will redeem you from the hand of the ruthless.

This verse and the verse before preach the gospel with four wonderful words like the points of the compass, so that even though Jeremiah warns that the sinning Jews of his day were surrounded by “terror on every side” (Jeremiah 46:5), Christ also assures us that through faith we are surrounded by his salvation. We are protected in every direction.

“I am with you,” (at’chah, אִתְּךָ), he says. His word is in our hearts and gives us the comfort we need even when we are far away from a prophet to preach it to us.

This is “to save you,” he says (l’hoshi’acha, לְהוֹשִׁיעֲךָ). Not only does yasha mean “deliver,” but in the Hebrew stem used here (the causative hifil) it means “I will cause you to be delivered; I will bring about this deliverance myself.” God is the one who has effected our rescue. We receive it as a gift, as Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

This is “to rescue you” (l’hetsilecha, וּלְהַצִּילֶךָ). This is the same deliverance from the other perspective. “To save” (yasha) puts us in the shoes of the one saved—we look up at the Lord as his hand reaches down to us. Now, “rescue” (again, the hifil stem stamps the word with the meaning “I will cause you to be rescued; I will carry it out myself”) shows this same action from the Lord’s point of view as our helpless faces look up at him as he snatches us from the cold, ruthless and wicked clutches of the enemy.

And all of this is “to redeem you” (upaditicha, וּפְדִתִיךָ). The wonderful verb padah is a favorite of David’s, even to the point of intruding on his carefully crafted alphabetic Psalm 25 by moving the letter “p” from its usual place so that padah could come at the end of the poem. The ransom for our souls is paid in full with the blood of Christ. There is no more debt to be settled; no more deed to be done.

Praise God for his omnipotence and for his forgiveness. Christ, using the one, gave to us the other, and made us heirs of eternal life.

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.