One of my favorite verses from Jeremiah:
They will come with weeping in repentance and for joy,
And by their prayer for the future, I will lead them;
I will make them walk by streams of waters,
On a straight path in which they will not stumble,
For [now catch this] I am a Father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn (Jeremiah 31:9).
Cool, isn’t it? Now, what you need to understand is that the people of Ephraim, which was the largest tribe of Israel, were also, believe it or not, the closest to Yahweh’s heart. The Lord had an eternal plan for this powerfully blessed tribe but, I am sad to say, Ephraim kept backsliding and grieving their God. The reality is that the people sinned more than anyone in Israel! But, you know, after all of their great (and persistent sin) did Yahweh ever abandon Ephraim? Nope. Amazingly, it was just the opposite: The Lord said that they were to be a free and ransomed people! They would live among fatness meaning, Yahweh’s greatest blessings (see Jeremiah 31:14 KJV).
With all of my studying and all my reading, I could never figure out what the Lord ever saw in Ephraim. The only thing that I could finally figure out is that what made David unique, Ephraim had a repentant heart. That’s right. They had a shame for sin, a willingness to return to the Lord and seek forgiveness. And in spite of all their failures, this one trait attracted the Lord’s heart more than anything! Whenever there was a strong, prophetic word proclaimed, they responded, and when He rebuked them, they wept over their sin. No, not some weak pantywaist kind of thing. No, no. It was a profound and sincere repentance.
At the height of their rebellion, Yahweh said,
“Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child?
Even though I have often spoken against him, I still think fondly of him.
That is why my heart longs for him,
and I will certainly have compassion on him,” declares Yahweh (Jeremiah 31:20).
The Lord was saying, “In spite of Ephraim’s shortcomings and failures, I see a contrite spirit and I will not take away My tender love. My eternal purpose for Ephraim will go on as I have planned!”
My dear friends, our Father has been assuring me that He has a plan for each of our lives! He is going to accomplish whatever He plans for each of us, no matter what we are going through or how severe our trial. He has put a lot of thought into planning your future!
I even have a prophetic word for some of you who are reading this message right now:
“You cannot judge our Father’s eternal purpose for you by what you are feeling or thinking. God wants to say to you, “Keep your heart humble before Me. Trust My Word about My nature — that I am a tender, loving Father who has invested much in you and I am not about to let you go. You are my delightsome child, and I will deliver you!”
As Jeremiah said,
“ I know the plans that I have for you, declares Yahweh. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
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