Blogging the Bible 199 – Jeremiah 8-12 – The one valid boast

I’m not sure what it would mean to boast of knowing the LORD. But that’s what he tells us to do.

Thus says the LORD: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD; I act with steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the LORD. (9:23-24)

Boasting of this doesn’t seem to make sense – for one thing, our idea of boasting is very much about ‘look at me’ and ‘see what I can do’, whereas the knowledge and understanding of the LORD is a gift, unmerited and simply accepted. For another thing, boasting is generally pretty unpleasant and unattractive. 

Perhaps the point is that this boast by its nature points away from ourselves to the LORD, and to something far more stable and enduring than any achievement on my part, real or imagined. The whole result is less ‘Look at me’ and more ‘Look to him’. 

At the same time, the honesty of the boast is that the knowledge of God is indeed the most powerful and important aspect of our nature. My education, position, ordination and everything else in which I could take confidence have their place, but they are next to nothing compared to knowing and understanding the LORD.

The whole idea of ‘boasting’ about knowing God does suggest that we should have confidence in declaring that we know and understand him – even when it’s tempting just to get on with the part of witness that’s just about quiet service. If our boasting is meant to signpost the way to the LORD, it needs to be clearly lettered.

Mind you, I’m still working on the ‘understand’ part.

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