Sunday, January 22, 2023

“Great and Unsearchable Things” [Matt's Messages]

“Great and Unsearchable Things”
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
January 22, 2023 :: Jeremiah 33:1-26

Would you like to hear a good secret? A secret about something good? Of course you would! Everybody does! 

We all want to be let in on a good secret, especially a secret about something good.  There isn’t enough good news going around, and we’re all thirsty for it.

Solomon says that good news from a distant land is like cold water to a weary soul (Prov. 25:25 NIVO). We are all thirsty for good news. Especially for good news that we did not know before.

Well, in chapter 33, the LORD has secrets that He wants to share with Jeremiah. Things that Jeremiah hasn’t heard before and can’t hardly imagine. And they are not just good. They are great! He calls them (in verse 3), “Great and Unsearchable Things.”

Let’s start at verse 1. This story takes place at the same time and place as the story in the last chapter–when Jeremiah was offered the chance to “buy the field,” to buy that less-than-worthless field of Cousin Hanamel’s in Anathoth. It was less-than-worthless because, at the time, it was probably crawling with Babylonians who were besieging the city of Jerusalem and about to take the people into exile!

So if Jeremiah was going to buy that field, his decision would have to be based on some inside-knowledge of the future. To buy it, he’s got to know a secret that nobody else knows to value that land! Because on the face of it, it looked crazy.

And on top of that, Jeremiah was imprisoned at the time. Look at verse 1.

“While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him a second time: ‘This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know'” (vv.1-3). 

We learned last week that Jeremiah was under house arrest in 588 BC because King Zedekiah did not like what Jeremiah had say about him, and he didn’t want Jeremiah’s message to spread. Of course, that wasn’t really stopping him from sharing the LORD’s messages, and it obviously didn’t stop the LORD from giving Jeremiah messages like He does here.

Did you notice that LORD uses His own name three times in verse 2? He wants us all to know that this message comes from Him and nobody else.

“This is what the LORD [Yahweh] says [the powerful Creator God], he who made the earth, the LORD [Yahweh] who formed it and established it–the LORD [Yahweh] is his name [here’s the message]: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'”

What an invitation! The LORD invites Jeremiah to pray and ask God to share with him even more of His amazing plans. He has told us that He knows the plans He has for us, amen?

What kind of plans are they?

They are plans to prosper (Hebrew “shalom”) His people.
They are NOT plans to harm His people.
And they are plans for a hope and a future.

But here the LORD says, more than that, they are plans for great and unsearchable things.

The LORD has extraordinary plans. They are great. They are marvelous. They are wonderful. And He says that they are “unsearchable.” Anybody have the old King James Version with you this morning? What does it say? “Great and mighty!” 

The Hebrew word there was often used for fortifications. It’s the word for making a wall strong so that nobody could break in. These great things that the LORD is willing to tell Jeremiah are behind the firewall. They are encrypted. They are safely locked in the blackbox unless the LORD hands you the encryption key. 
Nobody knows these things on their own. They are unsearchable.Because they are the future. And nobody knows the future but God. Unless He tells us. And they are unsearchble because they are too great to be grasped!

We would never guess these things. I think that’s the basic sense of it. “Jeremiah, you would never guess what I’m going to do. It’s too mighty for your little mind to truly comprehend.”

But just ask me, and I’ll tell you.

And then He tells him. Look at verse 4. It starts with some really ugly bad news. Verse 4.

“For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians: 'They will be filled with the dead bodies of the men I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness” (vv.4-5).

That’s not a secret at this point. Jeremiah has been saying that this is coming for 40 years. And it’s about to happen. Apparently, the people of Jerusalem have been tearing down their houses and even their royal palaces to try to fortify the wall against the Babylonian invaders. But they will fail.

They will fail. And those houses will instead be filled with corpses. Because the LORD through the Babylonians is bringing judgment upon Judah’s sin. Instead of turning His face toward them and giving them peace (Numbers 6), He is hiding His face from them and bringing them to justice.

But here’s the secret: That’s not going to be the end of the story!

It seems like their wound is incurable (Jer 30:12), but the LORD is the Great Physician. Look at verse 6. “'Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'” (vv.6-9).

Want to hear a good secret?


The Lord is going to turn everything around. He’s going to fix everything. He’s going to heal His people. He’s going to bring them back from exile. He’s going to rebuild the city. It has even fallen yet–it’s about to but it hasn’t happened–but right here before it goes down, the LORD says that He’s going to bring it back!

He does that play on the word “shuv” again. That word that means to return or to repent or to turn. He says that He is going to “turn the turnings” for them. He’s going to “reverse the reversals.” He’s going to fix everything so that it’s how it was supposed to be in the first place.

Which requires that their sins be forgiven. How great and unsearchable is that?! 

And what emotion will you feel if your sins are forgiven, but joy?

Joy will return.

The LORD says that He will experience joy. Look at verse 9 again, “Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'” (vv.6-9).

It’s almost too good to be true! The nations will go “Wow! Would you look at that!”

And joy will return to the people of God. Look at verse 10. “‘This is what the LORD says: 'You say about this place, ‘It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.’ Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, ‘Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,' says the LORD.”

Joy will return.

Weddings will happen again.
Worship services will happen once more.
They will sing Psalm 100 and Psalm 136 once again.

That’s the lyrics there in verse 11.

“Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.”

They will be singing it in the streets of Jerusalem.

It doesn’t feel like it. None of this seems true or even likely or even possible. These folks are headed into the worst thing that has ever happened to them. Soon the bodies will pile up, and everyone will weep their eyes out. Trauma in every direction.

But joy will return.

Do you need to hear that this morning? Joy will return. It might not seem like it. Your situation right now might seem like you’re going to be stuck in gloom forever. But the LORD promises to restore everything. This restoration that is coming for Jerusalem is just a foretaste of the Great Restoration that God is planning for the whole world! To be enjoyed by His own restored people!

In the New Jerusalem. Let me read to you again where this is all going. Revelation 21, the fullest fulfillment of Jeremiah 33. John the Revelator writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Rev. 21:1-5 NIVO).

That’s a great and unsearchable thing! Believe it. Joy will return.

In the last book of the Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, the character Sam Gamgee wakes up at the very end of the story. He thought he was going to die and he thought all of his friends had died, too. But he was alive, so were his friends. (I hope that’s not a spoiler for anybody.) The wizard Gandalf is there when he wakes up, and Sam says to him, “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?”

I love that. Because that’s what’s going to happen at the end of the story we’re living in. Everything sad is going to come untrue. Joy will return and return forever.

And here’s why. Because the LORD is going to send the Messiah. The Christ. Let’s look at verse 12. “‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In this place, desolate and without men or animals–in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,' says the LORD” (vv.12-13).

That’s the shepherd counting his flock. One, two, three, four. All night long.

The presence of shepherds once again means that this place has been restored. The exile is over. There are “pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.”

What does that remind you of? We just came through it a few weeks ago. Luke chapter 2, verse? “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Lk. 2:8 NIVO).

I think that Jeremiah 33:12 is at least one of the reasons why the angels came first to the shepherds! Because they were out there counting sheep, and the LORD was fulfilling His promise to send the Christ to them. Verse 14. Listen for those familiar words. Last time Jeremiah uses them in his book. 

“'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness'” (vv.14-16).

Sounds a lot like the passage we focused on during Advent doesn’t it? And Christmas Eve? 

“The days are coming.” They aren’t here yet, but they are surely on the way. The days are coming, when the LORD will provide a righteous king. He calls him a Righteous Branch sprouting from David’s line. Remember, the kings of Judah were all from David’s line. King Zedekiah who has David imprisoned right now is from David’s line. And Jeremiah has said that he’s never going to have a child sit on this throne!

It looks like Zedekiah is the end of the line. The great tree of David’s family is being chopped down right now before our eyes. “Timber!”

But out of the stump, a shoot is going to rise up. And it’s going to have a Branch on it that lives. And that Branch won’t be like any of these wicked sons of David. He will be righteous. Verse 15 says that He will do “what is just and right in the land.” We had a candle about that back in Advent when we studied chapter 23. A candle of righteousness.

This king will be a good one. A righteous one. Chapter 23 said that His name would be “The LORD is Our Righteousness.” And here in chapter 33, it says that He gives us His righteousness so much that the city becomes called by that name! He is that righteous!

Do you want to hear a good secret?


When the Messiah comes, so will righteousness. That means that everything will be made right again. Everything will not just be joyful. It will be right! Everything will be right and righteous. Including you and me. Do you feel how wrong the world is right now? The world is broken. It’s beautiful, but it’s broken. And so are we. Fundamentally. Inside. We sin because we’re sinners. We do unrighteousness because we are unrighteous.

But Jesus has given us His righteousness at the Cross. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21 NIVO).

And He’s going to give us a new world that is all righteousness all the time. I can hardly wait. The Apostle Peter says in his second letter, “ keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13 NIVO).

When we sing, “Almost Home,” we’re singing that we’re almost where we will be right with God in a world that is right with God. That’s a great and unsearchable thing! Believe it. Righteousness will reign. Forever!

Because Jesus will reign forever. Look at verse 17. “For this is what the LORD says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel...”

He’s promising what seems impossible right then and there. King Jeconiah is in exile in Babylon, going to die there. King Zedekiah is going to soon be in exile in Babylon, going to die there.

How can this be? Well, this afternoon, maybe take a gander at the genealogy in Matthew chapter 1. Jeconiah had six sons, and at least one of them lived.  His name was “Shealtiel” (Matt. 1:12 NIVO). He had a son named “Zerubbabel” whom some of you know “rebuilt the rub-able.”  And He had a son and he had a had a son.  And eventually, a son was born named Jesus.

And He was crucified and then came back to life! So now He lives in the power of an indestructible life! Jesus lives forever, and so this promise will be fulfilled forever. And righteousness will reign forever. 

And it’s more than just a forever kingship. There is also a permanent priesthood. Look at verse 18. “David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.” 

There’s going to be a priesthood forever. Verse 19. “The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘This is what the LORD says: 'If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant–and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me–can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne.

I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore'” (vv.19-22). Stop there for a second and let’s think about this promise. 

That’s a big promise! Notice how He takes the language of the Abrahamic covenant and adds it to the Davidic Covenant. He says that He’s going to make the offspring of David as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore! That is great and unsearchable!

And he says the same thing for the Levites! What’s going on here? I think that He’s pushing the boundaries here so that our minds get blown, and we have to think beyond the categories of the sixth century BC. We have to think beyond the categories of the Old Testament. And we have think about the mind-blowing categories of the New Testament. My best guess is that those descendants of David are the children of God through faith in David’s Son Jesus. And the permanent priesthood is the royal priesthood that we learned about in 1 Peter 2 and is referenced in Revelation 1. Spiritual children of David and royal priests to our God.

All because of the gift of His righteousness. John the Revelator says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Rev. 1:5-6 NIVO).

The New Covenant picks up the promises and themes of all of the ongoing covenants that came before it and weaves them together and transposes them into an unimaginably more wonderful key that is great and unsearchable!

And unbreakable. All of these promises, which sound too good to be true, are completely trustworthy and unbreakable forever. 

Want to hear a good secret?


Every one of these promises will be kept. You can be certain of it. Did you see how sure these promise are, according to Yahweh? How He brings in his covenant with the day and his covenant with the night in verse 20?

“If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, os that the day and night no longer come at their appointed time...” then all of these other covenants are in danger.

Let’s take a quick poll. How many times has the night failed to come? Sleep may fail to come, but the night always comes, right? How many times has the day failed to come? It might stay dark gloomy, but the earth keeps going around and around, right? “Bet your bottom dollar.” Look at verse 23.

“The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Have you not noticed that these people are saying, 'The LORD has rejected the two kingdoms he chose'? So they despise my people and no longer regard them as a nation” (vv.23-24).

There’s a reason for that. The LORD has sent Israel into exile, and He’s about to do the same thing to Judah. None of these good secrets seem likely. They hardly seem possible. Buying that field in Anathoth seems crazy. It doesn’t seem like the LORD has good plans for us. It seems, sometimes, like His plans are to harm us. But even the harm He lets come our way will not harm us.

Faithfulness will remain. The LORD will keep every single one of His promises. “Bet your bottom dollar!” Verse 25.

“This is what the LORD says: 'If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them'” (vv.25-26).

That’s a great and unsearchable thing! The LORD is going to keep every single one of His promises forever. He’s doing it right now. 

He’s in the process of bringing back joy for His people. 
He’s in the process of establishing a kingdom of righteousness.
He’s keeping every one of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.

And you and me in the New, unbreakable, Covenant. And He’s going to do it forever. 

Want to know a good secret? Everything sad is going to come untrue. Forever.

That’s a great and unsearchable thing.


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25
10. "Conspiracy" - Jeremiah 11:1-12:17
11. “My People For My Renown” - Jeremiah 13:1-27
12. "I Can No Longer Show Compassion" - Jeremiah 14:1-15:21
13. "I Have Withdrawn My Blessing, My Love and My Pity" - Jeremiah 16:1-21
14. "I the LORD Search the Heart" - Jeremiah 17:1-27
15. "Go Down to the Potter's House" - Jeremiah 18:1-19:15
16. “Insult and Reproach All Day Long” - Jeremiah 20:1-18
17. "Woe to the Shepherds" - Jeremiah 21:1-23:8
18. "I Did Not Send These Prophets" - Jeremiah 23:9-40
19. "“My Eyes Will Watch Over Them For Their Good” - Jeremiah 24:1-25:38
20. "This Man Should Be Sentenced to Death" - Jeremiah 26:1-24
21. “Under the Yoke” - Jeremiah 27:1-28:17
22. “I Know the Plans I Have for You” - Jeremiah 29:1-32
23. "I Will Surely Save You Out of a Distant Land" - Jeremiah 30:1-24
24. “I Have Loved You With An Everlasting Love” - Jeremiah 31:1-26
25. "A New Covenant" - Jeremiah 31:27-40