Home > Jeremiah Was a Dragon-Man > Jeremiah Was A Dragon Man: Loaded Words

Jeremiah Was A Dragon Man: Loaded Words

In Jeremiah Chapter 11, two words are used repeatedly: Egypt and Covenant. These are loaded words, carrying with them a lot of meaning for the Israelites. I want to explore these terms a little bit, focusing on how the background of the terms Egypt and Covenant adds to our understanding of the text. These words help us explain why Israel and Judah are going into exile and these words remind us of significant moments in the past which remind us there is hope for the future.

Read Exodus 1-15 if you’re interested in what Egypt means to Israel. Egypt was first a place where Israel grew rapidly into a nation-sized ethnicity, but then they were forced into slavery by the Egyptian rulers. During this time of slavery, they cried out of YHWH and the Lord brought them into freedom. In the process, God destroyed many Egyptian idols, demonstrating His complete power over both other nations and the gods they serve.

Explanation of exile: YHWH destroyed gods of foreign nations to free his people, and now his people are worshipping gods of foreign nations. What good is it for YHWH to show His power and free His people to worship Him if His people are just going to pursue other gods? It’s worthless. If they are going to enslave themselves to the gods of foreign nations anyway, YHWH’s salvation from slavery is pointless. If His people insist upon being enslaved by foreign gods, then YHWH will turn from them and allow them to be enslaved and exiled to the land of the gods they want to follow.

Hope for the future: The story of Egypt is hopeful for Israel when they are in exile, overpowered and under the authority of foreign nations and their gods. YHWH saved Israel when they were hopelessly enslaved by Egypt and their gods because Israel cried out to Him and the Lord heard and responded. If YHWH once stepped in to free Israel when they were in a foreign land and oppressed by a foreign nation, then He can do it again.

Israel has a covenant relationship with God. If you like, you can read more about that in Deuteronomy 28-30. In a covenant relationship, both parties have certain expectations that they promise to live up to. A marriage is a perfect example of this type of relationship. While, like a marriage, YHWH’s relationship with His people involves many expectations, the most important one is that both parties remain exclusively faithful to the other. Israel obviously has a hard time with loyalty to their God.

Explanation of Exile: God’s covenant with Israel, given centuries before their impending exile, explains very clearly that if they do not follow the terms of the covenant, then YHWH will allow them to be brought out of their land and into subjection of a foreign nation. Because, as Jeremiah repeats, Israel has not been faithful despite God’s constant urging, Israel’s exile should not come as a surprise to them. YHWH, having clearly set out the covenantal terms of the relationship, is actually remaining faithful to the relationship terms by sending Israel into Exile.

Hope for the future: After YHWH explains through Moses how Israel will be exiled from their land when they refuse to follow through with the covenant, He goes on to say: “And when all these things come upon you… and you call them to mind among all the nation’s where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your hearst and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the people’s where the Lord your God has scattered you.” Dt. 30:1-3 YHWH has a plan to restore Israel if Israel rejects Him. Even in their exile, they can find God, His favor, their fortunes restored, and hope for a future entering once again into God’s kingdom.

I bet you and I have both been where Israel is. We’ve experience God’s freedom from slavery, and then chose to be controlled by our idols, denying God’s power and undermining the freedom He fought to give us. We’ve known very clearly the difference between living faithful to YHWH and living unfaithfully, and chose unfaithfulness. The beautiful part about YHWH is that whether we have been enslaved by others or enslaved by ourselves, whether we have been sinning ignorantly or knowingly, He will bring us back into freedom and intimate relationship if we trust in the blood of the lamb.

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