Our passage begins: “At that time, declares the Lord.” What comes next is an announcement of tremendously good news to a people who have been exiled for their rebellion and apostasy. While this was not written to me directly, I find great inspiration in what Jeremiah reveals about God’s heart, which must be true both then and now. In her song “Flicker,” Rosi Golan has a line:
“Well my heart’s in two places and I’m feeling like a candle/ burning at both ends till it flickers.”
With his people, God is in a similar predicament. At one end, the candle burns like this: “Behold, the sweeping tempest of His wrath has gone forth and it will not be turned back until He has accomplished the intent of His heart.” On the other end, God’s passion also burns, but differently:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!
Again you shall take up your tambourines,
And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.” (from Jeremiah 33:3-4)
The candle burns at both ends because God is trying to draw his people back to Himself while they are bent on squandering his kindness and spurning his loving correction. In this book, God uses Jeremiah to reveal the root issue—man’s heart: “The heart is deceitful above all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” The good news is this: God understands the problem and has resolved it by way of offering both new hearts and a new covenant!
Considering this was written to Israel, we might wonder what we have to dance about. We need to keep in mind that the “at-that-time” with which this passage begins, refers to a glorious day when Israel receives her new heart and is finally capable of responding to God’s love. In his stunning grace, God opened the door in advance to us gentiles to “that-time.” He opened His heart to us, sending His own Son who enabled us to become the dwelling place of God. Christ in us makes our hearts brand new. This is radically good news! The question is: Are we blasé, or are we dancing?
God’s candle is not going to burn from both ends, flicker, then die out. His love is a fire that cannot be extinguished. I want to lay down any reluctance I may have to dancing in light of the amazing status I have before Him as an adopted and beloved child. Any conflicting predicament between God’s wrath and His love has been resolved. The tempest-end of the candle was absorbed, in Christ.
Father, may the light of your love’s intense fire consume our reluctance to dance. Even if we have never shuffled our feet, may we dare to dance by faith in the unquestionable merit of your Son. Amen.