Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26 - Jeremiah, Prophet, Prisoner


To be fair, he had seen it coming. Jeremiah had stood among the people of God and yelled as loud as he could. As they went about their days and the activities therein, they failed to notice the waterfall this river of humanity was approaching. Ignorant of where their path was leading them, they didn't understand what Jeremiah was saying. To be fair, though, God had told Jeremiah to expect this. God had said, "You will go to them; but I know them--they will not listen." So, Jeremiah stood in the middle of his friends and family and screamed distasteful and disagreeable things--true things. Many ignored him because they couldn't begin to understand what he was saying. Others understood what he was saying but refused to believe that it could be true. "No," they thought, "God is still with us. Didn't he just recently turn away those Babylonians?" Jeremiah alternated between tears for their ignorance and disgust for their hardheartedness.

Jeremiah was thrown in jail for telling the truth to people who didn't want to hear it and had the power to punish him for saying it. Jeremiah was beaten, mocked, and abused. Jeremiah even knew he would fail from the beginning. Yet, Jeremiah continued to share the message of repentance and faith in God because God had called him to do so. He lamented his calling. He disliked his calling. But, he lived into it because doing so was what his life of faith and trust in God demanded.

Knowing that people were hearing his words but not hearing his message, Jeremiah tried reaching out to them in different ways. He hoped desperately to break through the walls the people had constructed around themselves. He walked around town wearing a yoke around his neck. When people were shocked out of their apathy enough by this strange sight, they learned that Jeremiah was making a statement about the coming enslavement of the Jews by the Babylonians. When Babylon had laid siege to Jerusalem, Jeremiah made the ridiculous gesture of repurchasing the land of his family--the same land that was currently underneath Babylonian feet. This was a sign of hope for a day when the people of Israel could return again to Jerusalem. Jeremiah tried to reach out to the very people that God had assured him would not listen to him. God was right and the people ignored Jeremiah and Jeremiah's God. They had fallen away and no longer knew a life of faith and trust. They needed to wander until they realized they needed to led.

Jerusalem did fall to the Babylonians and the Jews were exiled. Wealthy and influential Jews were carried away to Babylon to serve the Babylonians there. This was the beginning of one of the greatest wounds in Jewish history--the attempted destruction of a people. The Jews who were not powerful enough or influential enough were left behind in Israel to suffer under Babylonian oppression and domination. Life had changed much as Jeremiah had said it would. Yet, he had left them with the hopeful image of his purchase of the land. For some, perhaps, this served as a comforting thought that even though things had changed and God had allowed the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem, God still cared for Israel and was still working out its salvation and redemption.

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