In the agricultural economy of Israel the blesses of prosperity and the curses of poverty, drought, and infertility were seen as directly proffered from the hand of God as a result of man’s obedience or disobedience respectively. 06 not deceivedIsrael’s current situation is of course the consequence of turning away from the covenant of Sinai that Israel entered into upon deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As Moses reminded them of this covenant in the book of Deuteronomy he closed his statements with a refresher on the blessings of obedience and the cursings of disobedience. The blessings of obedience brought Israel houses they didn’t build, water from wells they didn’t dig, and food from crops they didn’t plant. Indeed, Israel was blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey. But Jeremiah explains that the lack of rain, the poor yields from the fields, and the famine in the land is a direct result of Israel’s sin. In Jeremiah 5:25 he says, “Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you.” Dearman says, “Jeremiah 5:25 then underscores the correspondence between act and consequence: ‘Your sins have deprived you of good.’[1]

Job teaches us that not all suffering is a result of our sin. Sometime it’s the result of an invisible battle designed to test our faith and confidence in the goodness of God. Sometimes hardships come as a normal part of living in a fallen world. Jesus also taught that sometimes disaster may fall upon us in ways that seem rather random and unexplainable by our goodness or our badness (see Luke 13:1-5).

But I have found over the years that my mother was right; “your sins will find you out.” They always come back to you it seems in one form or another. Surely, Jeremiah is right; our sins will always “deprive us of good.” Jeremiah uses this truth to point out that God’s everlasting love is expressed to us not only in His blessings for obedience but also in His cursings on disobedience. Our sins make life much less than what God has planned for us. God’s everlasting love is expressed in His positive intentions for us. Jeremiah 29:11 is going to summarize God’s love to a sinful, wayward people; “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” God always has our best interest foremost in mind regardless of our situations. He only wants the absolute best for us, yet, like Israel, we often are willing to settle for so much less.

[1] J. Andrew Dearman, Jeremiah and Lamentations, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002), 88.