Dr. Roger D Duke
Where’s Your Boast? What Do You Have to “Brag About?”
Where’s Your Boast? What Do You “Brag About?”
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on the earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23–24).
Hope in the darkness breaks forth in these verses. The prophet sees through the spiritual charade in Judah. He writes on the cusp of crisis as Israel, the northern sister, has long been scattered by the Assyrians. Judah’s survival against that nation of ruthless conquerors left them arrogant at this point rather than humbled by the Lord’s great mercies. They thought that since they had the temple in Jerusalem all would be well. Their confidence rested in a place, a sacred building, but not in humble, dependent relationship with the Lord God who was to be worshiped in the temple. The temple was nothing without the Lord. So lopsided was their confidence in a building that they popularly sang, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” (7:4). Yet through Jeremiah the Lord warned, do not trust in such deceptive words as that popular aphorism. Instead, the Lord calls for repentance, justice toward one’s neighbors, towards aliens, orphans, and widows, turning from shedding innocent blood and walking after other gods (7:4–7). They had a warped religion: one that lauded a building while acting destructively and oppressively toward others. They broke all of the Ten Commandments in their daily lifestyles yet thought that the presence of the temple obligated the Lord to deliver them from the judgment due them (7:8–11). But a short history lesson of judgment on Israel should have shaken them but for the stubborn, self-righteousness and presumption in their hearts (7:12–15).
The rebuke and declaration of judgment against Judah continues in chapter 8. It exposes the ongoing idolatrous practices that had lain below the surface of their supposed devotion to the Lord. Jeremiah describes it as they have turned away in continual apostasy. “They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return” (8:5). They were like horses charging headlong into certain destruction in battle, but unflinching in their rebellion against the Lord (8:6–7). Their scribes, wise men, and prophets told them with superficial words, “Peace, peace,” but the Lord warns, “But there is no peace” (8:11). “We waited for peace,” they said, “but no good comes; for a time of healing, but behold, terror” (8:15). Their spiritual presumption left them relying on what they wanted to hear rather than on the words of God spoken through the prophet; that’s still a danger.
Jeremiah laments, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” (8:22–9:22). Then, out of darkness breaks forth hope, not due to Judah’s sudden righteousness, but out of the Lord’s mercy and grace (9:23–24). What Judah needed was not shrewd prophets or cute sayings or turning over new leaves in behavior or a new style of temple worship or security in wealth and power. But rather, they needed the simplicity of humbly knowing the Lord, making Him—not what they owned or what they could accomplish—but Him the focus of their lives. Jeremiah describes this as boasting in the Lord, so that the point of glorying turns away from self to dependence upon Him “who exercises lovingkindness [covenant mercy or grace], justice and righteousness on earth.” Jesus put it so clearly in similar fashion in His high priestly prayer. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). That’s why Paul agrees, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31). The way of peace is only in relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Where’s your boast?
From the “Leather Journal” of Pastor Phil Newton of the South Woods Baptist Church Memphis, Tn located at https://www.southwoodsbc.org/
This is edited and offered by Dr. Roger D Duke of The Inverted Christian located at https://www.invertedchristian.com/