Father, You are my hope and joy. Give me a vision of Your truth and an assurance of Your love.
Read JEREMIAH 11:1-23
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
When God’s love truly touches our lives, it ignites a fire in us that lights up our lives and shines out to of all those around us.
I have never actually experienced a forest fire but I can picture one in my mind: the conflagration, the sounds, the sights, the smell. This is what v. 16 predicts. Now I try to imagine what it means to be the target of an assassination plot (19). Both these experiences provoke strong language. It would be odd if they didn’t! I sit quietly, picturing the trees in these two verses.
Deuteronomy (6ff) describes the covenant between the Lord and Israel, which Josiah’s reforms were meant to renew. Jeremiah, a man of similar age to the good king, was an eager preacher of these reforms, but Judah was not listening. They took the Lord’s steadfast love for granted. They thought the land flowing with milk and honey was theirs for ever. They were ignoring the repeated commands: listen; pay attention; obey; follow. “Covenant” occurs five times in this chapter and sixteen times in chs. 31-34. Although I am not literally building Baals and burning incense to these false gods, how is the “special relationship” between me and my Lord today?
The raw, violent language—curses (3,8), decreed disaster (11,23), vengeance (better translated “retribution,” v 20), punish (22)—assaults my senses like a forest fire. So does the refusal of God to listen to the people’s prayers (14). This is Old Testament law-court language. It is not a personal program of revenge. How is my life and my society’s life in relation to God’s law and his love today? Do I care enough to complain or lament in my prayers to the Lord Almighty? Jeremiah was forced to live for years between God’s announcement of judgment and its delivery, unable to stop Judah’s stampede to destruction. I feel the pain, the sorrow, the heartache.
Jeremiah committed his long struggle to the Lord (5,20). You can do the same, whatever encouragements or setbacks you may be experiencing today.
Forgive me, Lord, because I often become so preoccupied with temporal things that I neglect the things of the Spirit. Lift me to a higher level, I pray.
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