“If you will return, O Israel,” says the LORD, “Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved. And you shall swear, ‘The LORD lives,’ in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; The nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him they shall glory.”
At first, the declaration that ‘The LORD lives’ might seem a bit out of place coming from Jeremiah 4. After all, this Old Testament passage seems so much like the gospel. It calls for repentance in a very direct way. It calls for faith in an inferred way, and it calls for a declaration that the God we are returning to… Lives!
What a declaration. One could almost ask: “isn’t just the fact that we have the recorded words of the LORD proof enough that He lives?” Yes, it is enough. But there is something remarkable that takes place in the life of a person who goes from being lost and spiritually dead, to being alive. The moment this miracle of new birth occurs, the reality of the LORD, in the Old Testament, and the Risen Savior in the new, becomes real to the believer.
This was one of the most remarkable realizations of my own conversion. Yes, I was a sinner. I knew that long before the Holy Spirit moved in my heart. Yes, I was repenting of my ways and turning to the LORD. All these things were true and did happen. But the biggest realization was the Spirit working in me to help me see that Jesus was real, and He had been raised from the dead.
He was not a dead god of ages past, but the living and true God of both Scripture and creation. All the things the Bible was saying about Him, were true. I could honestly say, “He lives!”
And that is what happens when there is true repentance unto salvation. Notice that the text isn’t saying that the LORD says “He lives.” He is saying that we will say ‘The LORD lives!” This is one of the results of the new birth, the realization that Our God is the living and true God of the Bible and He always has been.
Only those who have been born again will truly realize this precious truth. So many mistake the new birth that takes place in salvation for an emotional feeling they have had, or an intellectual realization. That is not new birth. New birth is completely done to us and outside of us, it is not something we can manufacture through our emotions or intellect. It does affect both of those but they are not the root of the new birth.
This is why in the Old Testament the proclamation of the gospel is so similar to the the proclamation of the gospel in the New Testament. Both proclamations are of the living and true God. The difference is that in the New Testament we are given the fulfillment of the Old Testament shadow, which is what we find in Jeremiah 4. Jeremiah was giving us a glimpse of the gospel in his proclamation to errant Israel. He was calling for those in his day to repent and turn to the LORD. The same call is made today, only now, we are blessed with knowing that the LORD is Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and LORD of lords. Repent, turn from your ways, believe and confess with your mouth: “Jesus lives!”