“A NATION SUCH AS THIS”
1. One of the most famous paragraphs in American history is from George Washington’s Circular Letter of 1783, the last of his annual letters to the state governments as commander in chief.
a. It was written just after the Treaty of Paris confirmed the military victory over Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.
b. It was a moving expression of his vision of the potential the young nation had, given all its resources and advantages.
c. Washington wrote......
2. Notice the thought of having been “placed in the most enviable condition...by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.”
a. I have thought of that phrase as I have been reading what Jeremiah the prophet so earnestly said to his countrymen in Judah and Jerusalem.
b. Scripturally speaking, the parallel to is between that people and the church of the Lord (cf. Gal. 3:29; Rom. 3:29), not between them and the United States of America.
c. There are in the prophet’s words, however, principles about how the sovereign God deals with nations that we would do well to appreciate.
1. The Providence of God for a Nation
a. He set the boundaries we depend upon.
i. Jer. 5:22 – “...I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea...”
ii. Acts 17:26, 27 – “And he made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find them.”
b. He gives the rains and keeps the seasons we require.
i. Jer. 5:24 – “...who gives the rain in its season...and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.”
ii. Jesus pointed out that whether people are evil or good, just or unjust, they require what the Father gives out of love: the energy of the sun and the refreshment of the rain (Matt. 5:45).
iii. Acts 14:16, 17 – “In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
c. He provides the blessings we enjoy.
i. Jer. 5:7 – “...I fed them to the full...”
ii. Jer. 2:6, 7 – “...the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells...And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things...”
2. The Expectations of God from a Nation
a. He expects the love and loyalty of such a nation.
i. Jer. 3:19
ii. Notice that he is not saying he does all this as if to manipulate people so that they will love him; he is saying he did it all out of love because he wanted to, but that he thought grateful love would be the response of those so loved.
b. He looks for truth and justice within the citizens.
i. Jer. 5:1
ii. The next verse indicates that what he was expecting to take him seriously enough to be honest and fair, as if in his presence.
c. He thinks moral honor will exist among the people.
i. He finds, however, that where people have sworn by false gods they begin to dishonor themselves as if they were animals and to use other persons as if they were meaningless objects.
ii. Jer. 5:7, 8
d. He wants to find what is good and right in the material dealings of the nation.
i. Jer. 5:26-28
ii. “Justice” is to be understood in the light of God’s own dealings: each person is to be treated with the dignity of one made in the image of God; each one should have an opportunity to provide for himself; compassion should be extended from one person to another without the enabling of a way of life that would be harmful to personhood or to community.
e. He expects such a nation to know that he will do what he says.
i. God certainly expects those who owe their existence to the fact that he has acted to reverence the fact that he can still act.
ii. Jer. 5:11-14
3. The Judgment of God upon a Nation (“How can he not do so?” the prophet asks. 5:9, 29)
a. He allows the nation to do without what they had because of him.
i. Jer. 5:25
ii. Jer. 3:3 – “Therefor the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come...”
iii. It is important to remember that this was something God’s covenant with them specified (Deut. 11:13, 14).
b. He hopes the people will take correction so he can bless them.
i. Jer. 5:3-5
ii. Whatever else happens is a “therefore” for “foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not “ and do not fear the LORD (5:6, 21, 22).
c. He makes the very things the nation has counted on into expressions of judgment upon their faithlessness.
i. Jer. 5:19
ii. Jer. 5:17
iii. Jer. 4:23-26
4. Still, the most frequent refrain through the text is, “But even in those days, declares the LORD, I will not make a full end of you” (5:18; 5:10; 4:27).
a. What amazing grace that is!
b. It leads to his rescuing a few for himself, through whom he made a new covenant for us all, at the cost of the blood of his own Son!
c. Through the gospel, in his Son, he turns us into his people (1 Pet. 2:10; 1:22, 23).
5. May appreciation for that costly privilege fashion our way of life!