We recently went out to France to see the new house our son has bought over there. After a day out enjoying the beautiful area of the Dordogne, I was excited to see one of the French neighbours had left a dish of fresh figs by the garden gate. Not realising whether to peel them or not I sought information from Google, and found out they can be eaten unpeeled. But I also learned they go off quite quickly and should be kept in the refrigerator. As nobody else liked figs, I was able to enjoy eating them for breakfast the whole week and they were delicious.
Shortly after this I was reading the message from God to Jeremiah about two baskets of figs.
‘After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the skilled workers and the craftsmen of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the LORD. One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. Then the LORD asked me, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘Figs,’ I answered. ‘The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad that they cannot be eaten’’ (Jeremiah 24:1-3).
It appears that God always expected His people to respond to Him and love Him with all their hearts, but so many of them didn't. After the judgment had come upon them and many had been taken away into exile in Babylon, God said He would watch over the exiles for good, bring them back to the land and build them up and plant them. He said 'I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart' (Jeremiah 24:2).
In the days of Jeremiah God was putting the people in two categories. They were either good or bad figs. 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:1-2).
The bad figs were God's people who didn't listen to God and followed false prophets. They persecuted Jeremiah for speaking God’s messages and they thought they could shape their own destiny. They didn’t want to return to God with all their heart and were unwilling to repent of their sins.
There was always a choice. In Jeremiah 17 God said the choice was for His people to trust in man or trust in Him. Using a different metaphor God said whoever trusted in Him would be like a tree planted by the water, but, sadly, those who didn't trust in Him would be like a bush in the dry desert. God said He examines the heart of each person and holds them responsible for what is there. 'The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.’ (Jeremiah 17:10).
Now Jesus has come, the way is made for us to have our sins forgiven and washed away by trusting in Him as Saviour and Lord. We can ask Him to change our hearts and make them new. This will be a continual process of sanctification throughout our whole life until we see Jesus face to face in eternity. It will require us to humble ourselves and keep asking God to search our hearts. Then we will be like a basket of good figs, good to eat.
Prayer: ‘Change my heart, O God. Make it ever new. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You. You are the Potter. I am the clay. Mould me and make me. This is what I pray’ (Lyrics by Eddie Espinosa).
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