The Scriptorium

Bad Figs

God's patience is not indefinite. Jeremiah 24.8-10

Promise and Wrath (2)

Pray 140.6-8.

I said to the LORD: “You are my God;
Hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation,
You have covered my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked;
Do not further his wicked scheme,
Lest they be exalted.”

Sing Psalm 140.6-8.
(Old Rockingham: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
You are my God, O God, my Lord!
Give ear, show mercy to my pleas!
Salvation grant by Your strong Word;
grant not their wicked, evil schemes.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 24.8-10.

Prepare.
1. Who are the “bad figs”? What will happen to them?

2. How do you see that God is sovereign in the fate of the “bad figs”?

Meditate.
The second part of Jeremiah’s vision reaches from Jeconiah’s day to the present, where the “bad figs” represent the people of Judah and Jerusalem under the kingship of Zedekiah (v. 8). God is finished striving with Zedekiah. He will “give up” the king and all his family and retinue into captivity, scattering them among various kingdoms within the Babylonian Empire.

God’s patience with sin is not indefinite. Zedekiah had already witnessed three deportations of people because of their sin – one to Egypt and two to Babylon. God was striving with His people through each of these periods of judgment, because He only gives His people up reluctantly. He strives with people, by various means – especially the preaching and sharing of the Word – to turn their hearts unto Him (Gen. 6.3; 2 Pet. 4.5). But He will not strive forever; in His time, He gives people up to their sinful choices and the destructive consequences that issue from them (Rom. 1.18-32).

And His time had come for Zedekiah and his generation. They would know “trouble” and “harm” at the hands of the Lord (v. 9). They would be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse to the people among whom they were sent as captives (v. 9). And whatever was left of them in the land, God would eliminate by various forms of terrible judgment (v. 10).

It is truly a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10.31), especially when you have disregarded or denied His Word, thinking you know better than He how you ought to live. Even for the believer, when we stray from the Lord, or neglect the disciplines that enable us to grow in and follow Him, He will strive with us to bring us back to the path; and that striving can be unpleasant at times (Heb. 12.3-11).

It’s best to keep listening to God’s Word and resting in His Spirit, so that He can shape us increasingly into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Good figs – that’s what we want to be.

Reflect.
1. Have you ever experienced God striving with you? If He did strive with you about a matter, what do you think that would look like?

2. What is it about God that requires Him to act decisively against sin?

3. Jesus was both the good figs and the bad figs before His Father. Explain.

The meaning then is, that though the condition of those who had been driven into captivity was for the present harder, yet God would deal more severely with those who remained, because he had for a time spared them, and they did not repent, but hardened themselves more and more in their wickedness. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 24.8-10

Help me to follow the example of Josiah and other faithful believers, Lord, as I…

Pray Psalm 140.1-5, 12, 13.

Ask the Lord to guard you from sinful thoughts, wicked temptations, and the evil intentions of spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. Commit yourself to walk uprightly before Him today.

Sing Psalm 140.1-5, 12, 13.
Psalm 140.1-5, 12, 13 (Old Rockingham: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
From evil, violent men, I pray,
deliver me, preserve me, Lord!
Their hearts they bend to evil ways,
and serpent’s venom is their word.

Guard me, O Lord, from wicked hands,
from violent men preserve my life!
They sow my path with wicked plans,
with nets and snares and cords of strife.

The Lord, I know, my cause shall take,
and justice for me surely do;
The righteous will thanksgiving make,
the upright e’er shall dwell with You.

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