Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thoughts On Jeremiah 33.3

The most popular song in our house at the moment, (and for the past two years, actually) is "Call to Me," a song put out by Seeds Family Worship. It's a very catchy tune that has for its lyrics the NIV rendering of Jeremiah 33.3: "Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

My kids love this song. I've taken to singing with them on my guitar every night before bed, and this is the first song they ask to sing every night. Even Han tries her best to sing the words, and it gets especially cute when she tries to say, "Jeremiah 33.3."

I've been thinking about this verse more in-depth recently, and actually the whole idea of learning verses through songs. While helpful with memory work, learning a verse in the form of a song can tend to rip the verse out of context and make a person think that it means something that the context never even remotely hints at. For example, I hope my kids won't grow up thinking that God will give them great and unsearchable test answers that they do not know! Don't get me wrong - I probably know at least 50 verses by heart from listening to G.T. & the Halo Express when I was a kid, and I really value the fact that I was able to learn those verses through song.

So what are these "great and unsearchable things" God promises to reveal to those who call on him? The seven habits of highly successful people? How to strike it rich? Vast scientific knowledge? Nope. You have to read the verse in context for Jeremiah 33.3 to really make sense.

In chapter 32 Jeremiah relives God's faithfulness to the nation of Israel throughout the ages. This reminiscing is in stark contrast to the fact that God is in the process of meting out severe judgement against Judah. But while this just judgment is taking place, God is talking about restoration: the restoration of his people and their land, and the bringing of both back into his good graces. So then, what are the great and unsearchable things you do not know?" God's plan of salvation through repentance and faith.

But this is something the sinner under judgment can't "know." If you think about it, the sinner - only concerned with himself - has no need for forgiveness or restoration, because he doesn't believe he has done anything wrong. In fact, the sinner is not able to "know" salvation through repentance and faith because the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. Presumably, those in Judah didn't "know" about these things because they were so blinded by their own sins that they couldn't see the will of God (although they certainly saw enough of it to justify their punishment).

Sometimes it takes judgment to be able to see these things. God's goodness contrasted against man's sinfulness can prove to be a serious wake up call. In most cases, it takes judgment (or knowledge of impending judgment) for sinners to call out to God. It's only when a person realizes how worthy they are of God's judgment that they are open to hearing about how to escape judgment and be restored. Put simply, you won't care about a Savior unless you know you need to be saved.

God was telling the people of Judah to call out to him while they were in sin so he could tell them great and unsearchable things they did not know: restoration and forgiveness. They certainly had no knowledge of these things while they were in sin. In order to learn about them, they had to call out to God.

It's so cool that God has put this verse in the hearts of my kids, and that they love it so much. They have no idea what it means at this point in their lives, but I pray they will. It's so vitally essential. My kids, like the people of Judah, are in sin and need to call out to God, and he will be faithful to tell them of the way of salvation - the "great and unsearchable things" they do not know.

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