Jeremiah 9:23-24 - Holy Boasting
You have two choices: worship God in His holiness, or be separated from Him because of His holiness.
Read / Listen
Read Jeremiah 9:23-24
23 This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 122
Q. What does the first
A. “Hallowed be your name” means,
Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you
for all your works
and for all that shines forth
your almighty power, wisdom,
kindness, justice, mercy, and truth.
And it means,
Help us to direct all our living—
what we think, say, and do—
so that your name will never
be blasphemed because of us
but always honored and praised.
If you look at the context today's passage comes in, you'll immediately notice how dark and depressing Jeremiah's prophecy is. In the verse that comes right before today's passage, the LORD declares in His judgment that "dead bodies will lie like dung on the open field." These will not be the bodies of wicked pagans; God is speaking about His own covenant people here!
Israel had become overconfident in their relationship with God. God had graciously committed Himself to them with His covenant promises, so they just assumed He was unconditionally obligated to protect and provide for them. They had neglected to learn God's Word, so their knowledge of Him had grown dim, they mixed in pagan ideas to their religious practice, and ended up concluding that their wisdom, strength and riches were of their own making, and not a gift from God.
In short, they had no idea that God was holy; that is, separate and above all things.
God is about to bring severe punishment on His own people by allowing the Babylonians to take them into exile. But even in handing down this terrible punishment that the people fully deserve, God still offers them grace.
He reminds them that true wisdom, strength and riches come from knowing Him: knowing that He is the LORD, that He exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth.
Sadly, Israel ignored Jeremiah. What will you do with him?
The Heidelberg Catechism presents a rich irony in this answer: that we only truly know God is when we confess that, in a sense, He's unknowable. This is what it means when we pray that our Father's name is hallowed - made holy - amongst us. Something that's holy is different, set apart, and consequently unknowable when applied to a divine being like God.
This underscores our primary problem as fallen, sinful people. Even though we're image bearers of God, Hebrews 12:14 says that "without holiness, no one will see the Lord."
So thank God for the gospel - that our Father does not remain unknowable! He reveals Himself through His Word, His Son, who is also fully God, became incarnate and provided you with the holiness you need to see the Lord, and now through the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, God lives within you!
Acknowledging God's holiness when you pray will bring you comfort and peace in two big ways. First, you'll be reminded that God is over and above all of our earthly problems and concerns and that He has the power to control all things. Secondly, doing do reminds you that you would not even be able to speak to your Holy Father except for His grace and mercy provided through Christ which has made you holy as well.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that in God's name would be hallowed in the way you live;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 1 Thessalonians 5