“I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed” (Jeremiah 33:8)

Pastor Ino

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Good morning, everyone. Today is the 5th Sunday of the month. I’m thankful to God for Kitazawa-sensei, See Huang, and Park-sensei’s help in preaching at IBF. My prayer for this new year is that all of us will look to our Savior and be grounded and mature in our faith.

In my previous message, I focused on Jeremiah chapter 32, verses 39 and 40: “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them …” The singleness of heart and action points to the sole path of salvation that lies in Jesus. Jeremiah prophesies the beginning of a new path, one where believing in Jesus enables us to be made righteous in God’s eyes. Jeremiah also talked about an “everlasting covenant.” In other words, this new covenant made through Jesus will last forever. Jesus’ birth led to the start of the New Testament era. In this new, everlasting covenant, those who believe in Jesus will most certainly be saved.

And now we enter Jeremiah chapter 33. Verse 1 says, “While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time.” Just to recall what the previous chapter was about: during this time of confinement, God led Jeremiah to purchase land from his relative. It symbolized how God would redeem and restore his people.

Now, in Jeremiah 33, verse 2 says, “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name.” It emphasizes God’s desire to restore and reform the world he created. Truly, God is a Restorer, a Renewer.

Then in verse 3, the Lord says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Here, God invites Jeremiah to call out to him. God will answer with great things beyond Jeremiah’s understanding. What kind of things, we shall see in verses 5 to 9.

Among the great and unsearchable things God told Jeremiah were, first of all, the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon as described in verse 5. Because of the people’s great evil, God hid his face from the city. When people intentionally stray from God and choose not to listen to him, God may hide his face from them.

Secondly, however, God promises restoration. Verse 6 says, “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” God will not fail to bring a time of healing. God will heal the wounds of Jerusalem, his chosen city, and of the people who live there. They will enjoy abundant peace and truth.

In terms of peace, it is both spiritual and material abundance, according to God’s covenant. Not only a peace of the heart. God promised to prosper them materially as well. God desires to heal not only individual hearts but where they live.

In terms of truth, it is the truth that God always keeps his promises. Today God has promised to save those who believe in Jesus’ work of redemption on the Cross. God keeps his promises; therefore, as we continue believing in Jesus and living in obedience we will be changed and experience his grace.

Thirdly, as verse 7 says, “I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.” Both north and south kingdoms will be reunited as one people and rebuilt. It is a promise that Israel will be rebuilt. Its people will be restored into the holy nation and kingdom of priests that God intended them to be when he first gave them the Law of Moses (see Exodus 19:5-6).

Fourthly, as verse 8 says, “I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.” Cleansing and forgiveness. That is a precious work of God. At some point each of us does wrong, but no matter what we have done God can cleanse and forgive. Those who know they have been forgiven will be able to thank God from the bottom of their hearts. They can worship God with joy and one day be fully sanctified.

Fifth, as verse 9 says, “Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it.” Believers will bring God joy and glory. When Jerusalem is rebuilt, its people will be God’s joy and glory. They will receive God’s blessing and live in peace. Others will be awed at what God has done for his people.

So these are the promises that God gives to Judah through his prophet Jeremiah. We believe that these promises also foreshadow the end times.

In verses 10 to 11, this is what the Lord says, “‘You say about this place, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.’ Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before.”

A time is coming when people will praise God in the ruined towns of Judah and Jerusalem, saying that he is so merciful and his grace is everlasting. They will worship anew.

Then verse 12 shows the lands restored: the desolate lands of Judah will once again have flocks and shepherds to guard them.

At the center of these promises is a Savior. Verse 14 prophesies the birth of Jesus: “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.” This is the same “good promise” mentioned in Jeremiah 29:10. Specifically, this promise was freedom from captivity. But we can also read it through the lens of Christ the Savior’s birth and reign.

In chapter 33, verse 15 goes on to say, “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.” Jesus, born as a descendant of David, will bring the start of a new era. Not only will Christ restore the people of God but also fulfill God’s justice, will, and covenant. In the new era brought by Christ’s birth, people will be forgiven their sins and saved. That is how we can understand these verses, I believe. Furthermore, when Christ returns in the future, he will bring justice and righteousness to our land. I believe this can be read as a promise for the end times, as well.

Verse 17 says, “For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel.” Jesus, the descendant of David, will reign eternally. Then the people of God will gather to worship him forever.

Verse 18 goes on to say, “nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.” In the Old Testament, the people appointed to be God’s priests were all from the tribe of Levi. Today, all of us who believe in Christ as God’s priests. The promise in Jeremiah has been fulfilled today; as we believers constantly offer our worship to God.

Christ has ushered in the New Testament era. Long ago, Jeremiah gave a picture of what that would look like. Indeed, we have now begun to live out the promises Jeremiah heard from God. Let us be grounded in faith, receive forgiveness, live with joy, and live for the glory of God.

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