Today I want to focus on the end of the reading:
This is what the Lord says:I believe we may have found another one of those passages which deeply influenced Paul. Paul uses both the idea of boasting only in one's knowledge of the Lord and the imagery of being circumcised in body but not in spirit.
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
“A time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”
Paul's use of this imagery in Jeremiah is interesting. First, it helped provide a connection between the Hebrew scriptures and the message that he was preaching. By giving his message the shine of tradition, he probably was giving it additional legitimacy.
The the existence of this Pauline imagery in Jeremiah also points out a larger point, one that I think that Christians often miss. Many of the ideas which are considered Christian actually come from the Jewish tradition that Christianity spun off of. The ideas of Jesus and Paul are not nearly as radical as they seem. The ideas that seem radical when compared against the New Testament caricatures of the Pharisees often have root in Jewish tradition. Whether it's the idea that religious observance is pointless if the heart is not in the right place (as both Jeremiah and Isaiah express) or the idea that people should not boast about their own strengths but instead should boast about their relationship to the Lord, many seemingly Christian ideas evolved from a Jewish context. (And many of the ideas that did not evolved from Greek philosophical thought.)
Paul describes the way that believers should shape themselves.
Psalms and Proverbs
I think we've done this, but it's hard to know how preparation of fields translates into modern parlance. In any case, I think we can start our house.
Do your planning and prepare your fields
before building your house.