Honest Faith
Tim Temple

Introduction

I'm sure you have heard the story about the world famous tightrope walker who had accomplished all kinds of special feats of tightrope walking, starting out in the circus, but eventually stretching the tightrope between tall buildings and walking across. Finally, for his ultimate fear, he decided that he would stretch a tightrope across Niagara Falls and walk across the falls on a tightrope. He did that. It was publicized and there were hundreds of people there to see it. He daringly walked across the falls, and even though it took him a long time and it was very shaky, he made it to the other side. The people were just delirious with their praise of that, and so that day he announced that the next day he would not only walk across the falls on a tightrope, but he would push a wheelbarrow in front of him as he walked across the falls.

The next day there was even a bigger crowd there and many people were there mainly to see him fall. They couldn't imagine that he could do it. Sure enough, even though again it was a shaky process, he made it all the way across the falls on that tightrope pushing a wheelbarrow. Again, the crowd was just delirious. When the crowd had calmed down, he announced that the next day he was going to walk across the falls on a tightrope, not only pushing a wheelbarrow, but with a person in the wheelbarrow.

Of course, the crowd all made their plans to be there the next day. The next day the announced time came and the crowds were gathering and the wheelbarrow was there. A reporter came up to the tightrope walker and said, “Let me get this straight. You are going to push a wheelbarrow with a person in it across the falls on a tightrope. Is that right?” He said, “Yes, that is right.” The tightrope walker said to the reporter, “Do you believe that I can do this?” The reporter said, “Well, I have seen you these other times and I know of your reputation. Yes, I think I do believe that you can do this.” The tightrope walker then said to the reporter, “Well, then would you be willing to be the person to go across in the wheelbarrow?” The reporter said, “Oh, well, no I wouldn't do that.” The tightrope walker said, “I thought you said you believed that I could do it.”

That little story, as familiar as it may be to some of you, is a perfect illustration of what faith is. Faith is being willing to get in the wheelbarrow. Faith is being willing to put ourselves into what we say we believe.

As we come to Jeremiah, chapter 32, we have tucked away here in this Old Testament book which is about a nation coming to its end and about God's people and particularly God's man, Jeremiah, as he lived through that time of coming doom. Surprisingly enough, toward the last third of this book, there is this story that really illustrates some very important principles about faith.

Conditions Which Call for Faith

The first thing that we want to notice, as we look at Jeremiah's exercise of faith in this chapter, are the conditions which call for that faith. It will help us understand this situation in which Jeremiah becomes a lesson about faith for us if we understand the conditions that prevailed. Those conditions are recorded in the first five verses of Jeremiah, chapter 32.

The first of those conditions was some restrictions under which Jeremiah and the people of Judah were living at that time. Notice, beginning with verse 1:

Jeremiah 32:

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.
2 For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house.

Verse 2 sums it up. There were restrictions on the city. The king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem. It was just about all over for Jerusalem. Besides that, though, there were restrictions on the prophet also. It says, “And Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison.” This was a time that really would have called for faith. The nation was about to be taken captive and the one prophet of God who had been faithful to warn about that and was seeing his very own prophecies coming true was in jail. He was locked up in the court of the temple. Not only were there restrictions, the situation was worsened by this renunciation which Jeremiah faced. Look at verse 3:

Jeremiah 32:

3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;

The next two or three verses go on to quote the whole prophecy which Jeremiah had given to Zedekiah. We have been talking about those prophecies for the last several weeks, about how Jeremiah kept telling the king and telling the people, “If you don't turn back to God, He is going to have to, by His very nature, bring judgment on you.” In verse 3, Zedekiah is repeating a prophecy back to Jeremiah, and Zedekiah's reaction to that prophecy was to lock Jeremiah up. As we have seen before, Zedekiah hated the message so much that he locked up the messenger. That has been typical of the people's response and of the other kings that Jeremiah has ministered to through his, by now, thirty plus years of ministry. So it certainly looks like things couldn't get very much worse for Jeremiah. Not only were they not listening to him, but they had locked him up for continuing to be faithful to give the message. His beloved city was under siege and about to fall into the hands of the enemy, but as we have seen many times in the Scripture, it is often in just such conditions as those that God teaches us some of His most important lessons. That is what is about to happen here to Jeremiah.

Let me just say at this point that if things are looking dark for you now, and no doubt there are some of you for whom things are looking very dark, you may be thinking, “Well, you may think Jeremiah had it bad, but if you just knew my situation.” As we have read some of these things which surrounded Jeremiah, even though obviously the city is not under siege and you are not locked up, things may look dark for you. Let me remind you that if that is the case for you, you should stop and think about the possibility that this is a great opportunity for you to see God work in your life. He often shows Himself most clearly in those difficult conditions such as Jeremiah was in and such as you may be in.

Nowhere does the Bible promise us that we will have peace and safety and an easy time after we accept Christ, that there won't be any problems and there will always be smooth sailing when we put our faith in Christ. It is pretty much the opposite. Many times when we trust Christ, many times when we have been walking with the Lord for a long time, problems come that God deliberately allows to come into our lives. In some cases, He deliberately brings them into our lives to teach us important lessons and to demonstrate to us how strong or how weak our faith may be. If, like Jeremiah did, we say what God wants us to say to other people and live like God wants us to live, there may very well be people around us who don't like it just like they didn't like it with Jeremiah. Some of those people may even be in a position to do us harm, as Zedekiah was with Jeremiah; but as I say, those are the times and the situations in which God can work most effectively in our lives. It was in those conditions that God gave a command to Jeremiah to act in faith. Look at verse 6:

Jeremiah 32:

6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.

In other words, God said to Jeremiah, “One of your cousins is going to come and offer to sell you some property, and Jeremiah, I want you to buy that property.” This would have been the worst possible time for you to buy property, don't you think? The city is under siege and on the very brink of captivity and who knew, at this point, whether they would even come out of that captivity or not. But the way Jeremiah goes about obeying this instruction from the Lord indicates the great faith that he had. His action in obeying teaches us some very important principles about acting in faith in obedience to God. That is important because very often the things that God is telling us to do are things that really don't seem to make very much sense from a human standpoint. In the situation that we are in and out of the background from which we come, for various reasons God sometimes leads us to do things that really don't seem to make sense.

In Hebrews, chapter 11, which is the great faith chapter, we have a chapter full of people who acted in faith; and in most of those cases, they were doing things that didn't make sense. You remember Abraham. Hebrews, chapter 11, tells us and the book of Genesis records for us that he went out from his homeland, going to a place where he did not know. He left his homeland, took his family, and moved, not knowing where he went. Noah, by faith, built an ark in a place where it had never rained because God told him to do it. Moses forsook the throne of Egypt to become the leader of a rag-tag bunch of Nomads. All of them did that simply because God told them to do it, and none of it made any sense at the time they were doing it.

We could go on and on. The book of Hebrews, chapter 11, goes on and on with other examples of people who have acted in faith; and in most of those cases, as I say, it really didn't make sense from a human standpoint.

The Caution in Faith

In verses 8-15, we find Jeremiah's consent to exercise his faith, and there are three specific aspects of faith spelled out in these verses. The first factor in acting in faith that we have recorded here is what I call The Caution in Faith . Look at verse 8:

Jeremiah 32:

8 So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.

Notice this: “Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.”

The terminology about the right of inheritance and redemption and those kinds of things may sound kind of strange to you if you are not familiar with Old Testament law. If it is unfamiliar to you, let me just take a moment to tell you that these are references to the fact that in the book of Deuteronomy, God had set up very clear guidelines for the sale of property. God had given to the Israelites all of that property that was in the land that He had promised them, which we call The Promised Land . God had given them this huge amount of real estate, and He had given it specifically to the different families of the different tribes. Naturally, He gave very clear instructions about how they were to sell that property if they ever wanted to. The basic rule was that if you wanted to sell a piece of property, you had to offer it first to your nearest relative. If that relative didn't want to buy it, you had to offer it to the next nearest relative. Only if none of the relatives wanted the property could you sell it to anybody outside the family, certainly to anybody outside of Israel. This was God's way of safekeeping the promised land, making sure that the promised land stayed in the hands of the Israelites. He wanted that to be their land and He was protecting them from themselves in setting that up.

The point of this particular passage is that Jeremiah's cousin comes and offers him this piece of property, and God tells Jeremiah to buy it even though it was the worst possible time to buy a piece of property. Jeremiah, acting in faith, agrees to purchase it. The way that Jeremiah goes about that purchase demonstrates a very important principle of living by faith. First, as I said a few minutes ago, it demonstrates the caution of faith.

Go back to the first part of verse 8, and notice the phrase, “according to the word of the LORD.” Let's think about this for a minute. Back in verse 6, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, he tells us. We don't know exactly how God spoke to these prophets. We would assume in reading through the Old Testament records that He spoke to them audibly, and probably He did. Apparently He did, but I think at other times it was very much like it is when we say that the Lord speaks to us today.

Probably most of us, at one time or another, have thought, and some of us have said, “The Lord is telling me to do this.” If you have had that experience, you know that the Lord didn't speak to you audibly, but He spoke to you in some way that you felt sure was the voice of the Lord. There are times when He speaks so clearly that you would almost think it was audible. I think that there were times like that when God would speak to the prophets and other people in the Old Testament. I think that because Jeremiah was locked up in the courtyard of the temple, in a kind of a public place, that God probably spoke to Jeremiah in that same quiet way that He speaks to us. The bottom line is that Jeremiah didn't just jump out and do something on a whim. He waited to make sure that it was the Lord's voice. It says there that his cousin came to him according to the word of the Lord. He heard the word from the Lord, but he waited to have confirmation about that. That is a very important principle for us, especially in this day when God rarely, if ever, speaks audibly because He has given us the completed canon of Scripture and so most of His speaking to us is through His Word or through an elaboration on His Word.

He doesn't need to speak to us audibly, but it is important, even when we think we are hearing a message from the Lord, to wait for confirmation. That voice that you think you are hearing from the Lord may just be those extra peppers that you had on that pepperoni pizza before you went to bed last night. Or it may be something that you wish the Lord would say, that you are hoping that the Lord will say, and you want to hear it so badly that you decide the Lord is saying it. Believe it or not, most importantly of all, it may be that it is the voice of Satan trying to mislead you.

I John, chapter 4, verse 1 says:

I John 4:

1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

It may be, whether you want to think so or not, that you have fallen prey to some false teaching and that the thing you think is from the Lord is actually Satan trying to mislead you. There is a very important need for caution as we seek to obey the voice of the Lord. When you think you are hearing from the Lord, it is always a good idea to be very cautious before you just jump into that thing that you think God is telling you to do. God won't mind if you take time to be cautious because He is the One who tells you to do it there in I John.

At the end of verse 8, we find another important principle of faith. Not only do we find the caution that Jeremiah exercised, but in the last part of verse 8, we find the confirmation of his faith. As we read a few minutes ago, the cousin came and offered him the land as the Lord had said to him. Jeremiah said, “Then I knew that this was the Word of the Lord.” The Word of God to Jeremiah in verse 6, was confirmed in the last part of verse 8, by the fact that the very thing God had said came true. The cousin that God had told him about actually did show up.

You see, the Lord will always give us some kind of confirmation about that thing that we are wondering if He wants us to do. It may not be as obvious a way as this, but if you tell the Lord you want to be cautious and ask Him to give confirmation of his leading, He will give it to you in some way. It may be by seeing in some passage of Scripture a confirmation or hearing a message from God's Word that will confirm what you think God is telling you. It may be through some outward circumstance. God knows best how to confirm His Word to you, but in one way or another, he will give confirmation of what He is telling you to do.

The Consistency of Faith

That brings us to the third principle of faith that we learn from Jeremiah in this situation. That is the consistency of faith. Look at verse 9:

Jeremiah 32:

9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
11 So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
12 And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.
13 And I charged Baruch before them, saying,
14 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.
15 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

Let's stop there with verse 15. The general perception most people have about acting by faith is that it is something that is kind of hare-brained and off-the-wall. If someone tells us that God is telling them something, sometimes we think of it as something that is kind of crazy. But look how carefully and methodically Jeremiah went about this acting in faith. In verse 9, he weighed out the money in the presence of witnesses. In verse 10, he signed the deed and sealed it. Apparently, there were two copies of the deed, one that was sealed and one that was unsealed. In verse 12, he gave these two copies of the deed to Baruch, who was a kind of country clerk, and he gave clear instructions to Baruch in verse 14 to secure those copies in earthenware jars which would have been the safety deposit boxes in those days.

Those earthenware jars were very long lasting because it was those kinds of jars that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in thousands of years after they were sealed and put in place. The point is that Jeremiah acted very, very, carefully and very, very consistently. Why did he do all of that? Because faith always has a purpose even if other people can't see it. In this case, verse 15 tells us what the purpose was. Look back at verse 15:

Jeremiah 32:

15 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

The reason that God had Jeremiah do this seemingly crazy thing of buying a piece of property is because God knew and Jeremiah believed that someday property would be worth something again even if no one else at that time could envision it being possible. Therefore, because Jeremiah believed what God was telling him, Jeremiah acted just as carefully in handling all of that as any business transaction he would have handled if those conditions weren't there. A work of faith does not need to be handled in a shoddy manner. It should always be handled carefully and thoroughly and professionally, even though it might look silly or pointless to the world.

Let me digress a bit from this to say that we are talking about the kinds of things God may lead us to do, but it could be that there is someone in some ministry or some other work of faith who is asking for you to help them financially in that work of faith. One of the things to always look for when a faith ministry asks you to help, maybe when an individual asks you to help them financially, or even in some other way with something that he is doing by faith, is this principle that faith always acts consistently with any other kind of business. A work of faith that involves finances ought to always be handling those finances just as carefully as they would if it were strictly a business deal. It is a shame that God's people many times have given Christianity and have given the Lord a bad name by their shoddy business practices. Just because it is a work of faith does not mean that it doesn't need to be handled carefully with accountability and with good judgment and all those kinds of things that are illustrated in the way Jeremiah handled this deed and the purchasing of that property. We have talked about the conditions calling for faith and God's command to Jeremiah to act in faith. Now we will talk about his consent in acting in faith in that way.

The Confession of Doubt in Faith

Perhaps the most significant principle of all, the fourth principle, is the confession of doubt in faith, which we find in verses 16-44. That may sound very strange to you if you are new to the idea of acting in faith or if you have heard a lot about acting in faith. Here is something that we don't talk very much about because we don't like to recognize it, but many times when God leads us to do something by faith, it will arouse doubts in our minds. Don't you agree? Haven't you experienced that? In fact, the interesting thing is that there is a sense in which doubt or questioning or maybe even fear is a mark of true faith. Many people have the idea that anything done in faith is done with absolute confidence, no questions at all, no fears at all, but that kind of an attitude is the mark of immaturity.

There is a sense in which, as I said, doubt is a mark of faith. The classic passage about faith that we talked about a few minutes ago begins in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1, saying that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”—in other words, things that we can't prove, things that we can't put our hands on. That is what faith is all about. Paul, writing in Romans, chapter 8, talks about that same principle from a little different standpoint. He says in Romans, chapter 8, verse 24, “For hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? For if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

You see, doubt is a part of faith, or hope, as Paul refers to it. If you see something, you don't have to accept it by faith, so any time that God tells us to do something that we can't really prove and we can't really see tangibly, don't be surprised and don't be hard on yourself if you have some doubt about that. Don't be discouraged if you don't quite see how God is going to do this thing that you think He is calling you to do. That is the nature of the game. It just goes with the territory. Do what Jeremiah did. Take those doubts to the Lord in prayer and confess to Him that you have doubts. The atmosphere of this confession that Jeremiah is going to make is shown, beginning in verse 16, where we read:

Jeremiah 32:

16 Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,
17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
18 Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name,
19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

That is a beautiful passage of worship, isn't it? If you are not familiar with it, you might want to mark it in your Bible, make a note to yourself somewhere and learn that passage. You can memorize whether you think you can or not, and this is a verse worth memorizing. Or at the very least, it is worth writing on a note card and when you get ready to spend some time with the Lord in prayer, turn to the passage or pull up that note card or quote if you have memorized these words to the Lord. It is a beautiful way to begin any communication with the Lord. You see, Jeremiah reminds the Lord of what he does know about Him. This is not a rebellious prayer. This is a very worshipful, loving prayer.

The theme of this prayer, the atmosphere in which it is prayed is here in these first verses because the prayer goes on for many other verses, but notice the atmosphere is the power and the majesty and the love of God: “Ah, Lord God! Behold You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power.” He is not coming to the Lord rebelliously, questioningly, because the passage goes on to describe more specifically how God has worked in the hearts of the people all down through the years. He gives a kind of a history of Israel, of how God has led them and worked in their hearts, even down to the punishment that they are now taking with the city going into captivity.

The Attitude of His Confession

That sets the stage for the attitude in his confession. Look down in verse 25:

Jeremiah 32:

25 And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses;

In the Hebrew text there is what amounts to just a dash here. He just had a moment of speechlessness. In the New King James there is an exclamation mark to indicate that. Think what he says here. “After all Your faithfulness, Your great power, all of these things You have said to me—buy the field for money and take witnesses, and yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”

You see, the idea is, “Lord, You are so mighty and so wise and so loving and so just. You have proved that all through the years, but now You have just told me to do something that I simply don't understand.” Many of us feel that way from time to time, don't we, about something that we think God is telling us to do, something that we read in His Word that He is telling us to do? We think, “Why would You ask me to do this kind of thing, Lord?” We don't want Him to know we feel that way, but Jeremiah is a beautiful picture of honesty. He says, “Lord, I just simply don't understand. I know how good You are and how great You are and how loving You are. You are a history of faithfulness. I know all of that, Lord, but I don't understand why You would ask me to do something like this. Why would You tell me to buy land in a nation that within days is going to be in captivity? If it is about to be destroyed, how can it ever be inhabited again? Can both these things be true?” He started his prayer with the affirmation that nothing is too hard for the Lord, and he ends it as if to say, “unless it would be this thing that You are telling me to do right now. I am not sure about that.”

I think, too, that Jeremiah's problem was not with the rebuilding of the city. If God has made the heavens and the earth, as he started his prayer in verse 17, then surely He can rebuild the city; but I think Jeremiah's problem was that God was saying that He was going to rebuild the people, too, and Jeremiah had been preaching to these hardhearted people all these years with not any kind of response. That is where he stumbled because for nearly forty years he had not seen any kind of repentance on their part. Nobody had received his messages, not the kings, not the people, nobody. I think Jeremiah was saying, “Lord, I don't think that there is any way to change these people. They are too stubborn.” Aren't we that way sometimes? We don't see how God could possibly do the thing that He is telling us He is going to do and the thing that we want Him to do.

The Answer to Jeremiah's Confession

The answer to Jeremiah's confession is in verses 26-44. We are not going to read all of those verses, but God begins by reaffirming His power and His plan for Jerusalem. He gives, in verses 26-35, a repetition of the promise of wrath. Look at verse 27 as an example of that:

Jeremiah 32:

27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Think with me for a minute as I remind you of something. I believe this is a place where God's sense of humor comes through. There are a lot of places like this in the Bible that it is easy to read right past them. I think God is just kind of kidding around with Jeremiah a bit, at least being a little bit humorous. See what he does in verse 27? He repeats what Jeremiah had said in verse 17. He says, in so many words, “Jeremiah, you said there is nothing too hard for Me, and you are right. Remember how you started your prayer, Jeremiah. Now I am giving you your answer. I want you to remember that. Is anything too hard for Me?”

Interestingly enough, that is exactly what God had said to Sarah, the wife of Abraham, back in Genesis, chapter 18, when God had told Abraham and Sarah that they were going to have a child, and He repeated that promise when they were far past the years of child-bearing. Sarah laughed, and God said these very words to her; “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

That is what He says to Jeremiah in this seemingly equally impossible situation. That is a vitally important question for you and me to ask ourselves when we face an impossible situation. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Remember that if you are facing an impossible situation today. You cannot imagine how God could solve this problem and it doesn't seem like God is going to because He has waited so long to do it.

Let me ask you and you ask yourself the question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Look what He says in verse 27:

Jeremiah 32:

27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh…

“All flesh.” I think He is saying in so many words, “Jeremiah, you are worried about people being changed. Jeremiah, I am the God of all flesh, even the rebellious flesh, even the wicked, godless flesh. I am the God of all flesh.”

You know, that is one of the most comforting statements in all of the Word of God to me because people cannot change people. Most of you have learned that from hard experience, haven't you? You cannot make another person do what you want him or her to do. Oh, we might pressure them enough or bug them enough or bribe them enough to change their actions, but listen to me: Only God can change people's hearts. Only God can change people. That is exactly what He says here. “I specialize in flesh. I change hearts, Jeremiah, and I make them into what I want them to be.” In Proverbs, chapter 21, verse 1, He said it this way, “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. As the rivers of water, He turns it where ever He wishes.”

What is the king of your life today? What is that thing that seems so important and so impossible? Remember that even the king's heart is in the hands of the Lord. He can change that person or that situation according to His own will.

The promise of the wrath of God that Jeremiah has preached about continues on down to verse 35. We are not going to read those verses, but if you read those verses, you will see that he was very justified in pouring out His wrath on them. Verse 28 is an example:

Jeremiah 32:

28 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it:

It goes on to tell again why He was doing that. But, beginning in verse 36 and going all the way to the end of chapter 33, He changes His tune and He gives a reaffirmation of His promises of future restoration to Israel. This is all one passage. The chapter division really isn't necessary to the flow of the text here. I hope you will read all of those verses when you have time. It is really a beautiful passage of all those things that God plans to do in restoring Israel.

I want to call your attention to the way He starts chapter 33. Again, the chapter divisions are manmade and it is really just all a part of what He has started saying in chapter 32. Look at chapter 33, verse 1:

Jeremiah 33:

1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name;
3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

You see, God wasn't through with His answer to Jeremiah's prayer. One of the disadvantages we have of not going verse by verse and trying to summarize this is it is easy to get mixed up. He is going to tell Jeremiah in those next verses about His plans for restoration, but what He is saying here is, “Jeremiah, since you have come to Me with your doubts, I am going to show you some things that you do not know.” Then He begins to give those beautiful verses about how He is going to restore Israel, and some of that hasn't even taken place yet. He is going to bring them to that place of blessing that He had promised to Abraham and to David, that place in which the whole world will revolve around Israel and her King, Jesus Christ, the son of David. The point I want to make is this: The person who takes his doubts to the Lord as Jeremiah did, is the one who will be admitted into the secrets of God.

Our problem is that we take our doubts to each other, don't we? When we say things like, “Well, you know, that verse just doesn't work for me,” or, “That's just a matter of how you interpret a verse. I am not sure I can apply it the way you do.” When we talk like that, we are really saying, “I don't really believe God can do that. At least, I don't believe He can do it for me.” We take our doubts to each other and that is the reason our faith doesn't grow. To the man or the woman who will take their doubts to the Lord, as Jeremiah did, lovingly, honorably, not rebelliously, but in that beautiful way that Jeremiah did, “Lord, I know how wonderful You are, but I don't understand this,” God's promise is that God will reveal His secrets to us.

That is exactly what we have in the following verses of chapter 33. God shows Jeremiah how He is going to change the hearts of Israel. All through the Scripture we find other men and women who brought their doubts to the Lord, and there is never even a suggestion of rebuke from the Lord when they do that. There is that anxious father in Mark, chapter 9, who asked Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son, and Jesus said, “According to your faith, so be it.” Remember what that father said. He said, “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

There is Habakkuk, another prophet of Jeremiah's day, who said, “Lord, how can You use wicked people to judge Your chosen people?” And when Habakkuk brought Him his doubt, God said, “Behold, and wonder marvelously, for I will work a work in your day which you will not believe though it be told you.” Jeremiah himself, on several other occasions, brought his doubts to the Lord and simply said, “Lord, I don't understand this,” and received from God the comfort of His own presence and the revelation of His own secrets.

Conclusion

We have been talking about honest faith. Really, there is no other kind. This passage demonstrates to us that faith is not a flash-in-the-pan scheme that somebody cooks up and then blames it on God. Faith is hearing a word from God, awaiting for His confirmation, carefully, meticulously doing the activities and the actions that are necessary to accomplish what God has promised—above all, bathing the whole thing, doubts and questions and all, in open, honest, loving prayer. That is the work of faith, honest faith.


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