Believing the Paradox
Ever-attentive Father, help me to pay attention to the whisper of Your Spirit as You speak to me through Your Word.
Read JEREMIAH 39:1-18
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22-23). This is a wonderful promise to claim.
Yesterday we read Jeremiah’s final words to Zedekiah: “Obey the Lord…and your life will be spared” (Jer. 38:20). The possibility of survival remains to the end: God’s offer of life rather than death. This was a real choice. We must not read the Bible as if Zedekiah or anyone else were irrevocably locked into a preordained future. We must not underestimate God by thinking that he offered Zedekiah a false choice because God knew what Zedekiah would do. Since childhood I have struggled to hold together the paradox that an all-knowing God may perceive the future yet still offer us the absolute and unlimited freedom to choose him. Like much which we apprehend by faith, these are two eternal realities which we must believe. I have come to understand that what I deem a paradox is only paradoxical in my small mind, not in the infinite mind of God.
Zedekiah could have chosen otherwise. A history now better known since being so graphically depicted in the TV miniseries “The Bible,” shows us he did not. A shameful surrender was a painful choice, but the shame would have brought the opportunity for life. This is a cameo of the whole Old Testament. No matter how far people go down the path of disloyalty and disobedience, God is always willing to keep the door open a crack.
In these choices we see both possible outcomes of Jeremiah’s prophecy, the chance to submit or not, to live or die. Zedekiah does not submit and dies. Jeremiah submits and lives. Jeremiah was neither a deserter nor a traitor. He “remained among his own people” (14) and lived. So did another good man, Ebed-Melech (18). God’s love exceeds God’s anger. God’s mercy and offer of life are larger than God’s judgment.
Is there anyone you know who is in a tough spot (i.e. Ebed-Melech)? How can you show kindness to them (i.e. Jeremiah)?
Thank You, God, for always leaving open the opportunity to choose You and Your way. Help me to know and choose the right path, even when it seems painful.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.