Summary: CHRISTMAS 1(C) - Proclaim God’s word to the nations because all mankind is redeemed which means that every believer can rejoice.
PROCLAIM GOD’S WORD
JEREMIAH 31:10-13 DECEMBER 29, 2002
10"Hear the word of the LORD, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: `He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
11For the LORD will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
12They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD-- the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
13Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Maybe if you’re like me, you might feel like you get a little bit short-changed or gypped. Let me explain. That first Christmas, what excitement and joy there must have been as first of all the angel came and spoke to Elizabeth and Zechariah about John the Baptist being born. Then the angel came and spoke to Mary and Joseph about Jesus being born. Everybody was getting more and more excited. On that Christmas day, Christmas evening, the angel came and spoke to the shepherds. At first they were a little bit scared and frightened, but then they listened and they understood. So they went to see what had all taken place, which the angels had told them about. Then we are told the reaction after Christ was born…that Mary pondered all of these things and treasured them in her heart. And the shepherds? “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told"(LUKE 2:20). Now you and I don’t get to see all of those things visibly as those first participants did. They saw the angels; they saw God’s glory revealed to them. But, like the shepherds, like Mary, like Zechariah and Elizabeth and Joseph, we get to hear those great and glorious things. Maybe we aren’t as short-changed as I often think. In our text, the prophet Jeremiah reminds us of what the people of the Old Testament looked forward to and how they were able to hear God’s message and then as He says:
PROCLAIM GOD’S WORD TO THE NATIONS
I. All mankind is redeemed
II. Every believer rejoices
I. All mankind is redeemed
Jeremiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes great words of encouragement for the children of Israel. He reminds them that the Lord is always on their side. Our text begins by saying, 10"Hear the word of the LORD, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands.” The Old Testament people didn’t see the angels either on that first Christmas. They lived long before that all took place, but they had the Word of God. Jeremiah tells them to listen to it and then proclaim it. Then he tells them what this Word says: `He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ From time to time throughout the history of Israel, the people were scattered—scattered from their homeland, scattered from the Promised Land because of their disobedience and their rejection of God. Yet even though they were scattered throughout the world and the countryside, the Lord said He was still with them.
And he says He will gather them together once again. Their sins would not separate them forever. God was with them to gather them together. Certainly at the end, they would be gathered together in heaven. Even on earth He gave them that promise. He doesn’t just say that He’s going to gather them together so they can all be together, but He says then also that He will watch over them like a shepherd who tends his flock. We may remember that the people of the Old Testament for the most part were shepherds. They knew how much they cared for each and every one of their sheep. What a joy it was for them to hear Jeremiah say, ‘and now the Lord is going to do the same for you. He’s going to care for each and every one of His sheep as much as a shepherd does on earth, and even more so.’
Then he goes on to tell them that because He, the Lord, is with them and will gather them and will watch over them, they will find comfort and joy. Toward the end of our text he says: ‘I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.’ How was he able to do that? He was able to do that because He would gather them together and He would redeem them. 11For the LORD will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. Here we have one of those words ‘redeem’—most of us grew up knowing what that means, yet this is a beautiful example of where scripture explains that for us. In that same verse it is used as a synonym. It uses ‘ransom’. You and I understand the word ‘ransom’…to buy back at a price. That’s the same meaning for ‘redeem’.