The Scriptorium

Change of Heart

God requires it, and only He can perform it. Jeremiah 4.1-4

Judgment: Jeremiah 4-6 (1)

Pray Psalm 33.13-17.

The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.
No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Sing Psalm 33.13-17.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God from His throne looks down on men; He knows our works and made our hearts.
Let not Your Church, let none depend on strength or skill or human arts.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 4.1-4.

Prepare.

1. What did God promise through Jeremiah?

2. What did He require of His people?

Meditate.
This looks to me like the end of the sermon that began in Jeremiah 3.6, Jeremiah’s second sermon to the people of Jerusalem. So this is part of the message that may have stirred Josiah to lead the people in renewing covenant with the Lord. It is a message of hope and promise; and it makes a powerful demand on the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

Through the prophet, God calls the people to return to Him (v. 1). They must put away all their false gods and the practices that went with them (v. 1). They must declare faith in the Lord, to the effect that He lives “in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness” (v. 2). He only is the source of blessing for the nations (v. 2; cf. Gen. 12.1-3). This is covenantal language, and further suggests that this is what led Josiah to renew covenant with God in a public service of proclamation and of destroying idols (2 Kgs. 23.1-25).

But it was too little, too late, and too shallow. The judgment of God remained on His people, as Jeremiah will elaborate in chapters 4-6 (cf. 2 Kgs. 23.26, 27). The people went through the motions of revival, but evidently their hearts were not in it. God called them to break up the hard, thorny ground of their hearts, and to “circumcise” their hearts – to get a new heart, a clean heart, a heart for God; but they did not (vv. 3, 4). Moses had promised a coming day when God Himself would circumcise the hearts of His people, so that they would obey His Law (Deut. 30.1-10). Here we see that God has not changed His mind about that requirement. But the people of Judah and Israel could not accomplish it. If they would not get their hearts right with God, the people would know His judgment like unquenchable fire (v. 4).

God Himself would have to do this great work of giving His people a new heart; and Jeremiah will, in due course, assure the people that God will do just that (Jer. 31.31-34). He has given us a new heart by sending His Spirit to dwell within us (cf. Ezek. 36.26, 27; Gal. 4.1-6). We must daily be renewed in this new heart, so that we learn the ways of Jesus and have the power to follow Him (Eph. 4.17-24).

Reflect.
1. Meditate on Genesis 12.1-3. What did God promise in this covenant? Now read Romans 4.13-17. To whom are these promises offered?

2. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 1.19, 20. What is the fulfillment of all the promises of God? What does that mean?

3. How can we keep our hearts from straying from the Lord and His covenant?

By the likeness of our faith, therefore, we become the adopted children of Abraham. And consequently by our faith, like him, we receive the spiritual seal, being circumcised by the Holy Spirit through the font of baptism, not in the foreskin of the body, but in the heart, according to the words of Jeremiah: “For the sake of the Lord, be circumcised, remove the foreskins of your hearts.” Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386), Catechetical Lectures 5.6

Thank You for my new heart, Lord. Today, let me live out my covenant faith in You as I…

Pray Psalm 33.18-22.

Thank the Lord that He watches over you. Call on Him for mercy and a greater measure of salvation. Wait on the Lord, and hope in Him.

Sing Psalm 33.18-22
Psalm 33.18-22 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God watches those who fear His Name, who hope upon His grace and love;
He keeps their souls from death and shame who trust in Him Who reigns above.

God is our Helper and our Shield; upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You; to You we yield; we trust in Jesus to the end.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore