I learned in language arts class that repetition is a literary technique that conveys to the reader importance of the thing that is repeated. If books are not your flavor than let us look at sports or art because even in these seemingly different worlds, the concept of repetition is very important for growth. We have to constantly practice and train our techniques and principles of whatever field we are in and we usually do it with the areas of our “game” that are important.
For the past eighteen chapters, the theme has been consistent and the conversations seem to be a copied and pasted over and over but despite the repetitive overall theme of the passages, there is something quite unique here that is hidden within the repetition. In ancient Israelite way of thinking, they think in circles in that they will constantly revisit a topic or an idea but every time they circle back, they look at the same thing but from a different angle. Therefore, it is tempting for us who think in a very linear fashion that nothing new is being said but the reality of it is that the topic and theme is the same but there is something new being presented to add unto the full picture of what is being portrayed.
So what are some new things?
V.17 like the east wind, I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.”
To see the face of God is to be intimate with God but to have His back turned to you is one of judgement but more importantly a sign of a broken relationship. God has talked a lot about judgement but here we see that God Himself is not only talking about judgement but it was one thing for the people to turn their back on Him but now it has gotten to the point where God too will turn His back on them. Yet as we have said in the past, this was a choice that the Israelites made and God is honoring their wishes; they didn’t want God so God is removing Himself from the picture. The greatest and scariest thing that you can experience is not when God is disciplining you but when He turns His back from you because you effectively have turned away all goodness.
V.18, 22 Then they said, “come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words… For they have dug a pit to take me and laid snares for my feet.
We hear a clear indicator and dialogue of the Israelites to actively plot against Jeremiah and we see from their own lips and not accusations of how far their sin has taken them. As Jeremiah is complaining about them once again, what stuck out to me is that they have metaphorically dug a pit to destroy Jeremiah but the reality is that they are only digging their own graves. I’m going to get a little nerdy here for a second and talk about a particular item in League of Legends. It’s a computer game but in it you can buy an item called a “thorn mail.” When an enemy attacks you, they have damage reflected back unto them and their ability to even heal themselves is reduced so that in a sense when someone attacks a person with this item on, they are hurting themselves in the process. It is the same way in this situation where neglect of God or even coming against God is not buying you any type of freedom but is only damaging yourself and even preventing the effectiveness of any healing that you actually need from sin.
So what is the important theme that must be taken away in light of new information given in this repetitive series? Let us guard our hearts and be continually humble before God. Let us not choose to dig our own graves but allow His word to teach us and guide us in choosing God above all else. The judgement of God is scary but when we choose to abandon God for good, we must realize that He too can turn His back on an unrepentant heart, let us while we still can turn to Him to be embraced by His grace.