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“An Amazing Comeback”
** Watch: https://youtu.be/4twrC7B6y0U
Now you might think it strange for me to go back to the Old Testament to explain the heart of the New Testament, and that is, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ and the new life He brings to all who come to Him.
But this really shouldn’t be surprising, because it was the Old Testament that the Apostles used to explain this good news in the beginning. And it was through the working and power of the Holy Spirit, through the church, that this message reached every corner of the known world within a single generation.
The Apostle Paul tells us that these Scriptures were written for our instruction so that we can stand and not fall.
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NKJV)
Now, this is seen in our text from the prophet Jeremiah. It is a great example and illustration of the good news from a prophet whose name is more synonymous with judgment than hope. Yet, here is a message of hope, and the very essence of the good news.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; the city shall be built upon its own mound, and the palace shall remain according to its own plan.”
“Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.’” (Jeremiah 30:18-19 NKJV)
Notice how it begins, “Thus says the Lord.” These are God’s words to us. The question is, are we listening, and do we understand? Because when we do, then we’ll plan our lives in accordance with what God is saying, instead of planning our lives based upon our own ideas and imaginations.
Jesus says this same thing to the church saying that those who have ears to hear let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the church (Revelation 3:22). I believe that if we would truly hear and listen to understand, then we will act upon the truth of God and His word.
Now, what the Lord is saying through Jeremiah is that upon the old, that is, upon the ruined past He is going to restore, that is, He will renew what was destroyed. Israel will return from its captivity, and Jerusalem will be rebuilt from out of its ruins. The wording actually says that it will be built upon its ruins, or upon its mound.
In those days, cities were built and rebuilt upon themselves. In Israel today there are always archeological excavations going on known as “tells,” which is the Hebrew word for mounds. These are cities that continually rebuilt themselves from the debris and ruins of their past.
And so, the Lord says that He is going to restore, and yet more than restore, He was going to make it new. You see, that is what Jesus does in our lives. He builds a new life from out of its ruined past. He doesn’t remove that life from its past, but allows that life to be renewed and completely changes it upon its past. And the reason it is built upon its past is so that we may never forget what brought it to ruins in the first place.
Notice God never changed where Jerusalem sat. He didn’t tell them to go a couple of miles down the road and build where there is no past. Instead, He commanded that Jerusalem be restored and rebuilt from its ruins, from the stones and material that had been torn down by the enemy.
Jerusalem was the prize, the jewel of the nation Israel. It had a commanding presence with its walls, towers, buildings, and God’s holy Temple. It was a city that couldn’t be easily conquered.
And yet, the sin of the people, their own willful disobedience and the neglect of God’s commandants had left the city and its defenses weaken, where at last the enemy was able to attack and break through leaving behind a ruined city, broken down walls, and a sacked and destroyed temple. All that the Jews had boasted in for centuries was now nothing more than a massive mess; its glory departed, and its greatness gone.
This is a perfect picture of a person’s soul. In the beginning God made humanity perfect, creating them in His image and likeness. He also gave humanity rule over this earth. And so, like Jerusalem and the Temple, humanity was to stand out over all the rest of God’s creation.
Further, God had endowed us with great power and faculties, but like the children of Israel, Adam and Eve laxed their defenses and allowed the enemy entrance, and the fall of humanity from its great height was the end result, leaving humanity’s soul and spirit in ruins.
Yet, the good news is that God had already put into place Jerusalem’s renewal, that upon its ruined past He wanted to rebuild His city and temple.
In the same way, God put into place our renewal, and upon our ruined past He wants to rebuild our soul and spirit.
The soul of humanity has fallen and is in a ruined state, but, as Jeremiah had prophesied, God want to restore us, to bring us back from this captivity to sin and death and rebuild His city and temple in our lives.
How can such rebuilding happen? Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)
Jesus is standing outside our hearts and His church knocking, asking to be let in, and that’s because He wants to do miracles and the impossible in our lives. He wants to rebuild what we have allowed Satan to destroy.
He also wants to come and speak to our deepest and most troubling needs. And He comes to us when we are helpless and the most vulnerable and miserable and announces His plans to rebuild and to restore the Jerusalem of our souls and the temple of our spirit.
But to do so He needs to bring us back and have the rubbish and ruins of our past cleared away through confession and repentance, and then upon this site and from this past a new city and a new temple can be built.
In the end, what clears away our ruined past so that God can rebuild within us that new soul and spirit is nothing less than Jesus Christ and the death He died upon the cross. For upon that cross He bore our sins and died in our place so that we can be made new and renewed. Upon that cross He cleared away the rubbish and ruins of our sins and disobedience.
And so, just as God promised a new Jerusalem upon the site of its past ruins, so God will make all who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, a brand new creation, where the old is past and gone and all things will become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
This is God’s promise, and it’s a promise that He gives to each and every one of us.
God wants to give to us all a new beginning. He wants to give us all an amazing comeback.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study