Reading through the Bible together
Whereas in previous chapters the heathen were faced with the foreknowledge of God, now the wayward children of Judah are made to do so. “I have declared the former things from the beginning” says God (v.3). Why? “Because I knew that you were obstinate,…lest you should say, “my idol has done them” (vv.4-5).
When the armies of Nebuchadnezzar would descend upon Judah, those folk could not complain that God had left them without protection. Long ago He had told them what would happen and why. He had even told them how to handle the invasion (Jer.27:6-11). It must have been a great disappointment to the Lord: “Surely you did not hear, surely you did not know; surely from long ago your ear was not opened” (v.8). Nothing is more deadly to the soul as the stubborn refusal to listen to God and yield to His will. “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!” says God, “Then your peace would have been like a river” (v.18). Instead, “there is no peace,…for the wicked” (v.18).
How often we forfeit available inner peace because we respond more promptly to the loud voices of our surrounding circumstances, rather than the sure voice of the Lord. We must admit that trusting God does not come naturally to us. It never has, and while on this earth, we will always need to choose to believe what God says over what we feel.
But all of heaven is on our side. In verse 16 we discern the entire Godhead at work on our behalf! “Come near to Me [the Son],…from the time that [I predicted what I did] I was there. And now the Lord God [the Father] and His Spirit have sent Me.”
“All heaven is watching with intense interest to see whether we will look unto Jesus and submit ourselves to His will, or whether in the temptation we shall follow the inclinations of the natural heart and the solicitations of the evil one. Let those who are perplexed with temptation go to God in prayer…. Persevere in prayer and watch there unto without doubting, and the Holy Spirit will work in the human agent, bringing heart and mind into subjection to right principles” (That I May Know Him, p. 276).
Submission to God, in faith, is the victory (1 John 4:5). It is then we will experience “peace like a river.”
Ron E M Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and Theology
Andrews University Seminary