When you picture these people being taken into exile, away from everything that’s familiar, the vision is not pretty. Imagine the despair and longing for how things used to be! In today’s reading, God uses the vision of figs as more than just a depiction of good and evil. Jeremiah now has a much different picture of how God sees those living in exile. They represent the good figs.
Have you ever stopped to think about what the people left behind in Jerusalem must have been thinking? Did they feel victorious because they weren’t the ones whisked away into the unknown? Perhaps they felt superior having been spared this brutality. According to the fig story, their reality is quite the opposite.
If there was any rivalry at all between the two groups, this vision would set the record straight. Who was truly favored and who was judged? The arrogance felt by those remaining in Jerusalem would soon be extinguished. Those in Babylon feeling dejected thinking God didn’t care about them would soon realize they had not been abandoned.
It would make sense that judgment should fall especially on those who have been exiled. But from this vision, it appears God has chosen to extend grace to them, the future remnant of his people. I love how God surprises us here.
God is the active one in these visions. For those “good figs” in exile, God is moving. God is going to “watch over,” “care for,” “bring back,” “build up,” and “plant them.” I especially like what God promises. “I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.” After being disillusioned for so long by evil kings, prophets, and priests, God is going to use this time in captivity to get reacquainted with his people.
That’s really the heart of things, isn’t it? God wants to be active in our lives. He often allows things to happen so he can make himself known to us. I think of all the people walking around our world today that don’t know God. They’ve never met him, and if they have, many aren’t ready to turn to him “wholeheartedly.”
God offers his grace in an unexpected fashion to the very people who had turned from him. God’s choice to do so was just that. His choice! We’ve seen time and time again when God has given power to the rejected. Think of how often Jesus spent time with the outcasts and sinners.
God has also chosen to extend his grace to us through Jesus Christ. We can also be “good figs” who recognize God as Lord of all. Reflect also on Ephesians 2:8 which reads, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Are you ready to accept this gift of grace?
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for how you watch out for me and provide for me each day. I am so grateful for your love. Knowing that I am covered in your grace is the best news of all. Give me the boldness to proclaim your goodness so others can recognize you as Lord of their lives, too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.