“Out of This World”
Jeremiah 31:22, “How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.”
This morning, one of my favorite pastimes is “people watching.” We are funny creatures at best, and man in his natural habitat is a strange sight to consider. One thing that I have noticed during my years in the workforce is the variety of greetings and responses that all amount to the same thing. For example, when people see each other for the first time during a work day, they say something to the effect of “How’s it going?” or “How are you?” Most of the responses boil down to the same thing “Same old same old.” In other words, it is a new day but full of the same old, familiar things. Most of life fits into that category. When considering the overwhelming majority of the items in our lives, they really are “same old same old.” This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is just a fact of life. People yearn for the new and different though so much of life is comprised of the same old same old.
Considering life under the sun (as Solomon did in Ecclesiastes), there is not much to say about it that is good. Solomon boiled down the “under the sun” existence to “vanity of vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Why is this the heart and soul conclusion of this life? Sin. Plain and simple. Suffering, sorrow, sickness, and death all bear forth from the fact that sin exists in this old world. Without sin, life under the sun was declared by the Maker as “good and very good.” Therefore, we see that sin has touched all the facets of life from our existence to the general state of things around us. We see nature fading and dying. We see death in those around us, and we see the travails that life brings. All that is in this world bears the scars and prints of sinstains.
Because of this ever present reality, any cure for this condition must come from an external source. When poison exists in a system, the antidote must be supplied externally to counteract the effects of the poison. Therefore, we cannot look to ourselves or those around us for any kind of remedy to sin’s toxins. Any antidote to this situation must come externally from this system. Considering all the remedies that man has for this condition (belief, acceptance, baptism, etc.) to wash away sins, they all fail this general premise. A system once poisoned is incapable of being healed itself. It must come from an outside agent. Therefore, whatever the remedy for this problem, we cannot be involved actively as we are part of the poisoned system.
Jeremiah here describes something that is rather fascinating. He describes a “new thing” that God will do in the earth. This new thing is described as a woman compassing a man. We see in nature that women bear children every day. I was present in the hospital when my wife gave birth to all 4 of our children, two of which are boys. One could say that while she carried them, she compassed them. But, there is nothing new about that. Women have been compassing male children in such a fashion since Eve gave birth to Cain. However, women do not truly compass a man the way Jeremiah describes. This “new thing” is not of this world, because God has inserted a Divine hand of power to this particular case. In all conceptions and subsequent births, the woman does not compass the man by herself. In all cases, the woman conceives and gives birth because a man was involved. My children are as related to me as they are to my wife, and she carried “our children” not just “her children.”
In the case that Jeremiah describes here, he prophesies of the same thing that Isaiah did (Isaiah 7:14) and God Himself did (Genesis 3:15). In this case, the woman truly compasses the man herself as no earthly man was involved. This literally came to pass some 2,000 years ago when Mary conceived and gave birth to the GodMan Jesus Christ. No earthly man was involved, and she compassed a man through nothing short of being overshadowed by the Holy Ghost Himself. This event provided the antidote for the problem of sin that we previously discussed. One could truly say that Christ was “out of this world” as His incarnation defied the state of things in this broken system. He came to earth in the form of a real man with real flesh and blood. However, due to the new thing that the Lord affected, He was free from the curse and poison that dwells with every other living being on this planet.
What is interesting about the case of Christ can be seen – in some small way – through the efforts in recent years of combatting natural toxins. Many times, the antidote is developed as a serum that begins with the poison itself. People learned how to combat the poison of snakes by extracting parts of the poison from the snake’s fangs to develop the antivenom. The effects of the poison are combatted by using part of the compound itself to counteract it. Consider Christ. Paul says that man brought death, so the resurrection of the dead had to come by man too. (I Corinthians 15:21) Since man had offended God by bringing sin and death here, it took man as well to bring about the cure. However, all men were incapable due to their stains. But, Christ – as a man – fulfilled the requirement of being related to the people with the problem but also fulfilled the requirement – as Divine – to be as spotless and unstained as God Himself.
This is a situation that man could not bring about, and God had to work a new thing in the earth. When His Son was compassed by a woman in Mary’s womb, something was in the earth that was out of this world. People today will use an expression like “out of this world” to express awe about a situation. No situation in this earth has ever or will ever equal the awe that came from this situation. God and man dwelling in perfect harmony in one Being. An unspotted man coming forth in natural birth. A woman compassing a man without a natural man involved. This Man having the fullness of the Godhead in His body! Wow and double wow! Small wonder then that Paul should describe this as a great mystery. (I Timothy 3:16)
Friends, we all lay a-dying like a poor soul bitten by a terrible asp. The venom caused swelling, pain, and eventual death. With no agent to help us, we were without hope. However, God in His mercy sent the antivenom to heal us of our ugly and vile condition. He caused us to live through His Son. He washed our stains away in Christ’s blood. He took our burdens and sorrows upon Himself. By Him and through Him, we have been healed. Nothing in this world could have helped us. But, heaven’s very best came “in the earth” to give us something out of this world: eternal life. Though I truly do not understand the fullness of Christ, I praise Him for this matchless gift. Though I cannot wrap my brain around why He would do such a gracious thing to such ugly wretches, I thank Him for such merciful goodness. May we not be as the backsliding daughter that the Lord describes, repeating the ugly pattern of revolting. If we do, all we will feel is the stings of sin’s effects in this world, which bring about compounded sorrow and pain. Rather, let us look up out of this world where our help and all blessings have originated.