‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
Based on the first couple verses of this chapter, I would be tempted to call chapter 33 “Jeremiah’s Prison Prophecies, Part 2”. This is the second time God has spoken to Jeremiah while the prophet is basically imprisoned while Jerusalem is under siege. This morning’s verse is how God begins His chat with Jeremiah.
God begins with an invitation. Call to Me. Often, when I find myself in a place like the one Jeremiah is in — confined by circumstance — I am tempted to stop talking altogether. I do not want to talk to friends or family or, worst of all, to God. But it is in precisely that kind of circumstance that God invites Jeremiah to call to Him.
The invitation to call comes with a promise: I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. The invitation to call is followed by a promise to answer. Not just to answer, but to tell Jeremiah great and mighty things — things he does not know. Sometimes, I think that intelligent people particularly need to hear this promise. It is a simple matter to get so wrapped up in what we do know that we forget how much we do not. And there is much that we do not know, no matter how intelligent we might be.
Why would God promise knowledge to a captive? If I read the rest of the encounter; the rest of chapter 33, I find that there are promises of restoration and more — promises concerning the Messiah. The Messiah — Jesus — sets free the penultimate captives: those who are held captive by their sin to death. God did not comfort Jeremiah with temporary release from a physical prison, but with eternal release from bondage to sin. God did not comfort with a restoration of the city that would last until Israel’s next rebellion (and there would be another), but with the restoration that lasts.
God is still issuing this invitation to us. Call to Him and He will answer us and tell us great and mighty things; things we do not know. The things unknown to me are beyond numbering. But I can say from experience that when I avail myself of this promise and call to God, He invariably answers me with things unknown; things that comfort me and sustain me through the difficulty.
Years ago, a relationship fell apart in spectacular fashion. It was messy and painful and other relationships fell as collateral damage in its wake. It was a hot mess and I often questioned what was going on. When I called to God, He answered and His answer brought with it peace. What I learned in that time is that His peace is contingent on my obedience. While I obeyed Him, I had a peace I cannot explain or make sense of. When I disobeyed, the peace departed and the chaos that had seemed so far removed proved very near. I called and He answered that His peace comes through my obedience. I am not sure I could have understood it on so deep a level in any other way. It is a bone deep conviction.
Any time any of us is in difficulty, it is in the midst of that difficulty that God invited Jeremiah to call to Him. It is in the midst of our difficulty that God extends to us the same invitation. Will I sit in my difficulties and trials and wallow in the things I know or will I call to God and be answered with things unknown?