Randy and I have done our fair share of remodeling the homes we have purchased in our lifetime! We actually like demolishing what was to clean, tear away the old and unusable, to redesign and rebuild for greater purposes. But I don’t like the mess in the middle of it all! Remodeling is not as fun as the makeover shows depict on media streams! A huge mess is made before the beauty of the remodel plan comes to completion. Inexperienced people don’t consider the mess and can’t handle the mess made in the remodeling and cleansing process. My grandpa, a carpenter, always said, “You have to make a mess to make something beautiful.”
Mess before beauty. I think of this as I read our next episode in our continuing series of Jerusalem and Judah’s cleansing and restoration. God’s people have turned their backs on God completely and turned their hearts toward making a complete and utter mess of their lives and the lives of their children. They worship whatever they make. They worship Baal along with any god that comes along. God’s people hit rock bottom when they sacrificed their own children by burning them at the altar of the god, Molech.
To say God’s people needed a cleansing and remodel of their hearts, minds and souls is an understatement. God is heartbroken for his children, angry at the lives they lead against Him and now will intervene by tearing down and cleansing by fire what was in order to rebuild and restore what should be. “I will restore everything that was lost. God’s Decree.”
Jeremiah 32, The Message
Killing and Disease Are on Our Doorstep
1-5 The Message Jeremiah received from God in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah. It was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was holding Jerusalem under siege. Jeremiah was shut up in jail in the royal palace. Zedekiah, king of Judah, had locked him up, complaining, “How dare you preach, saying, ‘God says, I’m warning you: I will hand this city over to the king of Babylon and he will take it over. Zedekiah king of Judah will be handed over to the Chaldeans right along with the city. He will be handed over to the king of Babylon and forced to face the music. He’ll be hauled off to Babylon where he’ll stay until I deal with him. God’s Decree. Fight against the Babylonians all you want—it won’t get you anywhere.’”
6-7 Jeremiah said, “God’s Message came to me like this: Prepare yourself! Hanamel, your uncle Shallum’s son, is on his way to see you. He is going to say, ‘Buy my field in Anathoth. You have the legal right to buy it.’
8 “And sure enough, just as God had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me while I was in jail and said, ‘Buy my field in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, for you have the legal right to keep it in the family. Buy it. Take it over.’
“That did it. I knew it was God’s Message.
9-12 “So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I paid him seventeen silver shekels. I followed all the proper procedures: In the presence of witnesses I wrote out the bill of sale, sealed it, and weighed out the money on the scales. Then I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy that contained the contract and its conditions and also the open copy—and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. All this took place in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses who had signed the deed, as the Jews who were at the jail that day looked on.
13-15 “Then, in front of all of them, I told Baruch, ‘These are orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: Take these documents—both the sealed and the open deeds—and put them for safekeeping in a pottery jar. For God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, “Life is going to return to normal. Homes and fields and vineyards are again going to be bought in this country.”’
16-19 “And then, having handed over the legal documents to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to God, ‘Dear God, my Master, you created earth and sky by your great power—by merely stretching out your arm! There is nothing you can’t do. You’re loyal in your steadfast love to thousands upon thousands—but you also make children live with the fallout from their parents’ sins. Great and powerful God, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, determined in purpose and relentless in following through, you see everything that men and women do and respond appropriately to the way they live, to the things they do.
20-23 “‘You performed signs and wonders in the country of Egypt and continue to do so right into the present, right here in Israel and everywhere else, too. You’ve made a reputation for yourself that doesn’t diminish. You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders—a powerful deliverance!—by merely stretching out your arm. You gave them this land and solemnly promised to their ancestors a bountiful and fertile land. But when they entered the land and took it over, they didn’t listen to you. They didn’t do what you commanded. They wouldn’t listen to a thing you told them. And so you brought this disaster on them.
24-25 “‘Oh, look at the siege ramps already set in place to take the city. Killing and starvation and disease are on our doorstep. The Babylonians are attacking! The Word you spoke is coming to pass—it’s daily news! And yet you, God, the Master, even though it is certain that the city will be turned over to the Babylonians, also told me, Buy the field. Pay for it in cash. And make sure there are witnesses.’”
* * *
26-30 Then God’s Message came again to Jeremiah: “Stay alert! I am God, the God of everything living. Is there anything I can’t do? So listen to God’s Message: No doubt about it, I’m handing this city over to the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He’ll take it. The attacking Chaldeans will break through and burn the city down: All those houses whose roofs were used as altars for offerings to Baal and the worship of who knows how many other gods provoked me. It isn’t as if this were the first time they had provoked me. The people of Israel and Judah have been doing this for a long time—doing what I hate, making me angry by the way they live.” God’s Decree.
31-35 “This city has made me angry from the day they built it, and now I’ve had my fill. I’m destroying it. I can’t stand to look any longer at the wicked lives of the people of Israel and Judah, deliberately making me angry, the whole lot of them—kings and leaders and priests and preachers, in the country and in the city. They’ve turned their backs on me—won’t even look me in the face!—even though I took great pains to teach them how to live. They refused to listen, refused to be taught. Why, they even set up obscene god and goddess statues in the Temple built in my honor—an outrageous desecration! And then they went out and built shrines to the god Baal in the valley of Hinnom, where they burned their children in sacrifice to the god Molech—I can hardly conceive of such evil!—turning the whole country into one huge act of sin.
* * *
36 “But there is also this Message from me, the God of Israel, to this city of which you have said, ‘In killing and starvation and disease this city will be delivered up to the king of Babylon’:
37-40 “‘Watch for this! I will collect them from all the countries to which I will have driven them in my anger and rage and indignation. Yes, I’ll bring them all back to this place and let them live here in peace. They will be my people, I will be their God. I’ll make them of one mind and heart, always honoring me, so that they can live good and whole lives, they and their children after them. What’s more, I’ll make a covenant with them that will last forever, a covenant to stick with them no matter what, and work for their good. I’ll fill their hearts with a deep respect for me so they’ll not even think of turning away from me.
41 “‘Oh how I’ll rejoice in them! Oh how I’ll delight in doing good things for them! Heart and soul, I’ll plant them in this country and keep them here!’
42-44 “Yes, this is God’s Message: ‘I will certainly bring this huge catastrophe on this people, but I will also usher in a wonderful life of prosperity. I promise. Fields are going to be bought here again, yes, in this very country that you assume is going to end up desolate—gone to the dogs, unlivable, wrecked by the Babylonians. Yes, people will buy farms again, and legally, with deeds of purchase, sealed documents, proper witnesses—and right here in the territory of Benjamin, and in the area around Jerusalem, around the villages of Judah and the hill country, the Shephelah and the Negev. I will restore everything that was lost.’ God’s Decree.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
We believers and the not yet believers, are still in the habit of making a mess of our lives as we live for self and follow the voices, opinions and temptations of the world led by the Prince of Darkness. Dear friends, we could always use a “remodel” in our daily lives that turn our messes into messages of hope, forgiveness, love, and grace that repair and restore us. This is only accomplished by Jesus who lives in us. This is the secret to remodeling! “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Colossians 1:27
In fact, Paul tells us we are God’s masterpiece of His creation when we allow Him to do His work in and through us, molding and shaping us like a Potter with clay, to be beautifully made with a purpose. This is the beauty made from a mess of clay! “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) God knows who we are and who we will become!
An extreme makeover is possible by embracing our transforming God!
We are constantly under construction on earth! He is not finished with us yet—not until we see Him face to face in glory. “So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2, MSG)
Pray without ceasing! True prayer begins with worship and focuses on the greatness of God. No matter what our problems are, God is greater; and the more we see His greatness, the less threatening our problems will become. Constant communication with God is communion in His Presence.
Say yes to Jesus who will turn our ugly mess into something brand new and beautiful for His glory and our good. Always.
The Lord affirmed to Jeremiah that the situation wasn’t lost, for He would gather His people and bring them back to their land. The application of this Scripture for believers today is obvious: The world laughs at us for our faith and our investments in the future, but one day God will keep His promises and vindicate us before people and angels. Instead of living for the sinful pleasures of this present world, we seek the joys of the world to come. We refuse to sacrifice the eternal for the temporal. The unbelieving world may ridicule us, but ultimately God will vindicate His people.
Thank you for remodeling my life daily. Thank you for teaching me and not giving up on me. Thank you for turning my messes into your message of hope for others to see you glory at work! I’m yours and I’m listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen