A multitude of thoughts tended to tumble around and out of our minds as we read today’s chapters. Verse 20 in Jeremiah ch. 23 was one that particularly captured our attention: “The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.” And we are understanding more and more clearly, but we must admit there are limitations, we must be faithful to what is written and discern what time they apply to.
There were ‘prophets’ trying to compete with Jeremiah and the LORD says through him, “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people …” [v.21,22] And so today, there are those who ‘prophecy’ but “do not stand” in God’s “council”. This is only reliably found when one carefully reads and compares the words that God has preserved for us, and we are careful of the context in which they occur.
The book of Jeremiah is quite a challenge in this regard – but we will soon encounter words God gave him which are clearly applicable to “the latter days.” In Paul’s words to the Romans today he writes of the Jews being “broken off” [11 v.17] so that the Gentiles as branches “ cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree” [v.24] might be grafted in. Paul is primarily writing to those who have been grafted in.
But note the warning Paul gives to the Gentile believers, “lest you be wise in your own conceits” he says, “I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in “ [v.25] We must ask, is the salvation of true believers from among the Gentiles just about complete?
Truly we are living “in the latter days” and the “fullness of the Gentiles’ is just about complete. The word “fullness” is not in common use, the same Greek word is translated as “fulfilling” in ch.13 v.10, it has the sense of completion.
We must admit the limits to our understanding, but as we survey the marvel of the works of God in history down to the present – then we can echo the words of Paul in v.33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”