Monday, July 26, 2021

The Powerful Word of God

By Ron Thomas

    In Jeremiah 23, the Lord is very displeased with the shepherds of Israel because they have no heart for His word and way; instead, they desired, strongly, their own ways. Who are the shepherds? The context must determine who are they and the context speaks against the prophets and priests. As a class, the lord condemned them (23:11); as a class, they failed to honor the Lord and hold true to His revelation (there were exception, such as Jeremiah). It is not unlikely they had significant income and a respected status, not wanting to lose either. How were the common folk going to please the Lord with such shepherds? They couldn’t – if they listened and followed the examples set for them by those bad leaders (23:32).
    On the other hand, if they heard and obeyed the Lord’s word, as spoken by Jeremiah, the power of the Lord’s message would penetrate their heart so effectively it would have changed them. Even if someone has such a calloused heart, could they ever have turned back to the Lord? The Lord knew they could if they desired to do so, that is why He had Jeremiah preach to them, calling on them to repent (cf. 22:4-5; 32:33).
    This gets to a significant point: there is no hardness of man, no power of Satan that can prevent the Lord’s word from penetrating a heart that wants to hear the Lord’s message of hope. The Gospel message is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). To the saints in Colossae, the Lord’s apostle knew just how hardened they were in their evil ways of thinking before the Gospel came to them (1:21). When he brought the message to them, the hardness of heart with some melted away (1:3-7). They heard the word of truth, they understood it, and they desired to learn more of it. In John 6:44-45, the Lord knew what would draw people to Him. Whatever might be said about the miraculous signs that Jesus did, it was the message of God that educated and changed minds.
    This would have been the same in Jeremiah’s day if those who heard the Lord’s word would have desired to change; they had it within themselves to move in the direction of God and His message. How do I know this? Because the Lord said they could (18:7-8). As it was, they chose not too! Therefore, the Lord was able to hold them accountable for rejecting His word (cf. Acts 13:46); it’s a very bitter thing to forsake the Lord, rejecting His holy will for the person and the nation (2:19).
    Just as the word of God is a lamp unto the feet of those who walk on the Lord’s path (Psa. 119:105), it is, also, Is not my word like fire? saith Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces (23.29)? 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

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