Reflecting Reality

Mirrors do a great job at reflecting reality. The reflect exactly what is before them – for better or for worse. Yet, even the slightest imperfection or defect can distort their reflection. Jeremiah’s ministry to Israel is in part an effort to help Israel realize their state before God. Israel is stubbornly fixed in idolatry, showing every sign of willful ignorance toward God and His coming wrath. They are not seeing reality clearly and, though warned many times, this will soon cause them great catastrophe. To awaken Israel to the reality they face and instruct them to turn back to Himself, God instructs Jeremiah to make some drastic life changes.

In Jeremiah 16, God tells Jeremiah that he should not marry nor should he attend any Israelite funeral feasts. This effectively makes Jeremiah an outcast in Israel society. Why does God do this? God tells Jeremiah that His judgment is upon Israel and soon many will die. He also says that His love and compassion have left Israel. God is telling Jeremiah to live a life that reflects the reality of Israel’s situation. Marriage is not an option because many will soon mourn the passing of their families. Feasts are not an option because there is no true comfort for those under God’s wrath. Israel is unrepentant, they are disobedient, and they do not care that God’s wrath is upon them. Jeremiah’s isolation from Israel is meant to reflect Israel’s isolation from God.

Two thoughts on this. First, our lives must reflect the reality of God and our state before Him. A few categories come to mind – our lives must reflect the true fear of God as our Creator, the true pain of sin as disobedience against God, the true joy of salvation as God restores us to Himself, the true tension between Christian faithfulness and fallenness, and the true hope of heaven as we wait for God to make all things new. Our lives reflect these truths when we know God. Living out that knowledge of God praises Him and draws others to know Him clearly.

Second thought, Christ endured isolation from God so that we might be adopted into His family. It is true that terrible, eternal isolation awaits those who remain unrepentant to God, but Christ endured isolation from God so that we might not suffer it. God’s great love is revealed here, that He would come from heaven to lowly earth, full of sinners, to die as the worst of sinners in order to heal sinners to Himself. We deserve the same fate as Israel here, because day in and day out we act like Israel. Yet Christ saved us by suffering what we deserve. Through the gospel He has moved us from being under God’s wrath to being in God’s family, from separation to adoption, and from isolation to relationship.

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