“When the Judeans in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the other nearby countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few people in Judah and that Gedaliah was the governor, they began to return to Judah from the places to which they had fled. They stopped at Mizpah to meet with Gedaliah and then went into the Judean countryside to gather a great harvest of grapes and other crops.” – Jeremiah 40:11-12 NLT
The land of Judah had fallen. Jerusalem had been sacked and destroyed by the Babylonians. The best and the brightest of the nation had been taken captive and deported to the land of Babylon, and only the old, the poor and the helpless had been left in the land. Things could not have looked any bleaker. Even Jeremiah, the despised prophet of God, chose to remain in Judah with the few who were left in the land. Asaph, the Psalmist, records just how bad things seemed to be in Psalm 79. “O God, pagan nations have conquered your land, your special possession. They have defiled your holy Temple and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins. They have left the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of heaven. The flesh of your godly ones has become food for the wild animals” (Psalm 79:1-2 NLT). From a human perspective, things did look desperate. It did appear as if God had completely abandoned His people. The unthinkable had happened. A pagan, godless nation had completely destroyed the nation God had set apart as His own. The land of promise lay desolate and ruined. Or did it?
Even in the aftermath of the destruction of Judah, God was still extending grace to His people. Slowly, those who had fled to the hills in anticipation of the coming judgment at the hands of the Babylonians, began to return. Yes, many of the cities lay in ruins and the land had been stripped bare by the invading army of Babylon. But Gedaliah, who had been appointed governor of Judah by the Babylonians, encouraged the people left in the land to “settle in the towns you have taken, and live off the land. Harvest the grapes and summer fruits and olives, and store them away” (Jeremiah 40:10b NLT). And as they made their way into the Judean countryside, they found “a great harvest of grapes and other crops” (Jeremiah 40:12b). The Land of Promise was still fruitful and abundant. God was still providing blessing in the midst of even the curse of destruction. His promise of a land of abundance and blessing was still true and He was still providing for His people. Once again, the people of God were going to harvest crops they didn’t plant and drink wine from vineyards they didn’t cultivate. God was going to provide for His own even in their need. Those who had been left behind or who had hidden themselves during the siege of Jerusalem, were not more deserving of God’s blessing than those who had been taken captive. This was not about one group being more deserving than the other. This is a picture of the mercy and grace of God. He mercifully left a remnant in the land and graciously provided for them. He showed them His undeserved merit and favor, in spite of their rebellion and resistance to His will.
I am reminded of the words of Paul, when he tells us to consider just how fortunate we are as believers to have been chosen to be a part of God’s redeemed remnant. “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 30:26-29 NLT). We are like that remnant – a small, helpless and seemingly hopeless group of individuals, left behind after the fall. But God has graciously showed us favor and extended to us His grace through His Son Jesus Christ. As a result, we can experience blessing and spiritual abundance even while living in a world that is suffering as a result of their own sinfulness. We reap the rewards of a relationship with God that we didn’t cultivate but that was provided by the word of Jesus Christ on the cross. We were weak, powerless, foolish, and despised, but God has chosen to reveal His power through us. God has always worked through a remnant. He has always kept His promises alive by keeping a remnant alive. We may be in the minority. The odds may seem overwhelming. But God will provide. And He will get all the glory.
Father, I am so grateful that You chose to make me a part of Your remnant. Thank You for choosing me in spite of my weakness and foolishness. Thank You for providing for me when I couldn’t provide for myself. May I live for You because Your Son died for me. May I recognize each day that my presence here is because of You, and not because of anything I have done to deserve Your favor. Your blessings are undeserved by me, but certainly not unappreciated. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men