Grace Toward Sinners

An exposition of Jeremiah 33:10-16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 9, 2008.

How do you handle bad news? Are you the type that takes a deep breath and then carefully, strategically begins to map out a plan of action? Do you take bad news in stride and say, “This is the hand we are dealt – let’s deal with it?” Or would you say Chicken Little has nothing on you? For you bad news brings on full panic? Or maybe you’re the type that quietly retreats inwardly thinking, “if I ignore it – it might just go away.” Whether you are the type to wither at the first sign of trouble or you’re the type that would charge hell with a water pistol – given enough bad news we all have a breaking point. It could not have been worse than it already was for Judah. Jeremiah had warned them for 4 decades. He told them repeatedly their sin would find them out. God will not be mocked. You cannot ignore Him and not experience His judgment. Unless you repent His judgment will come and it will be devastating. But his preaching fell on deaf ears. Now the time of judgment had come. Nebuchadnezzar’s army had surrounded the city. Siege walls were built. Jeremiah is in jail. After 3 years under siege the citizens of Jerusalem have resorted to tearing down their own houses in order to reinforce the city walls. Not even the palace of the king was spared. Times were tough. They were about to enter into 70 years of exile. Jerusalem would be destroyed. The temple would be burned – its treasures taken to Babylon. The holy city would be a wasteland. Broken, demoralized and disheartened the people were ready to lay down and die when they received an extraordinary word from God. Our text this evening is found in Jeremiah chapter 33 beginning with verse 10.

Text: Jeremiah 33:10-16

We are in the “good news” section of Jeremiah’s prophecy. That section that tells of the “new covenant” that God is going to make with His people. In the opening verses we find some of that “new math.” You know – that math that doesn’t exactly add up. 33:5-9 – what? The things in 33:5 do not seem to go with the “Behold…” of verse 6.

Just when you are expecting the “finishing blow” God speaks of grace and mercy. This is not in response to repentance and faith – this is God’s choosing to be merciful. This is unmerited favor in the ultimate sense. This is God’s being faithful to His promise even when Judah was unfaithful to hers.

Thesis: Jeremiah 33:10-16 provides a powerful reminder of God’s gracious dealings with His wayward children. Let me point out just two things quickly from this text.

I. To downtrodden, discouraged and defeated followers God promises an amazing reversal of fortunes. (33:10-13)
This is an amazing thing because God promises to reverse the reversal in verse 11. “I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.” He is going to put things back as they once were. Before He brought this judgment on them. This is not cheap grace. This is not an immediate fix. They are going into exile. They will stay 70 years – but they will be kept as a people and restored to their land.

God will be gracious but there is a price to pay – look at how Judah and Jerusalem are described in verse 10 – “a waste without man or beast, in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast…”

The same thing is repeated in verse 12.

  • There will be an end to joy and laughter.
  • There will be an end to the joy of weddings and celebrations.
  • There will be an end to economic prosperity.

But he promises three things in this passage:

  • He promised to turn sorrow and mourning into gladness and joy – 33:10-11.
  • Further He promises to bring praise and thanksgiving out of bitterness and loss – 33:11.
  • Finally God promised that out of economic chaos and depression would come a thriving economy – 33:12-13

II. To a demoralized and shepherdless people God promises a good and righteous king. (33:14-16) Jeremiah joins the other prophets in telling of the coming of the Lord’s Christ or the Messiah. This is the basis for all those other promises. The blessings of God are yes and amen in Christ.

This will come about in those days of peace and prosperity. Not in the midst of hardship and struggle. Interestingly – in a time when shepherds are in the fields about Jerusalem and the land of Benjamin.

A righteous Branch will spring up for David and note “he” shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

This is in keeping with the other promises:

  • “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. Jeremiah 23:5
  • In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. Isaiah 4:2
  • There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1
  • Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. Zechariah 3:8
  • And say to him, Thus says the LORD of hosts, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Zechariah 6:12

Jeremiah 33:10-16 provides a powerful reminder of God’s gracious dealings with His wayward children.

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