How Long, O Lord
Loving Lord, today I want to carry with me the remembrance of my Savior’s suffering love on my behalf.
Read JEREMIAH 12:1-17
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.
Our God is no stoic, detached deity. The tender heart of the Father is bruised by the cries of his suffering children and all whose cry is, “How long…?” (Psa. 13:1).
“The prophet is a man who feels fiercely … God is raging in the prophet’s words.” There is a striking contrast at the heart of this chapter, in vs. 7 and 8. God speaks of “my house,” “my inheritance,” “the beloved of my soul” (literally) and in the next verse, “I hate her.” For Jeremiah, God is not some passionless abstraction, remote, distant, detached; nor is God senile and powerless, reduced to wringing his hands at his people’s misdemeanors. This risky language reminds me that God is active, God is always the subject, God’s love and justice are the world’s redemption—finally he accepts the Father’s will, whatever that entails for him, accepts the Father’s will, whatever that entails for him (Matt. 26:39).
Perhaps not many readers of Encounter with God work on the land; have soil under our fingernails. Reflect on all the farmer’s images in this chapter—parched land, wild animals, berserk shepherds. The word “inheritance” denotes “God’s special acre.” But “there is no one who cares” (11). Look at the verbs: forsake, abandon, uproot, devour, swarm. It is as if creation is going backwards; all is reverting to thorns and thistles. Pray for those who work in conservation, for the renewal and stewardship of the natural world.
The formatting of your Bible shows, perhaps, that vs. 14-17 are in prose. These astonishing verses show, in the distance, an amazing reversal; the Lord’s fierce anger (13) is not his last word. The wicked neighbors (14), whom the Lord has used to uproot Judah and who have in turn been uprooted, will be compassionately restored (see chs. 46,48,49). They are offered incorporation into God’s own people, if they will give him their allegiance. For God’s purpose always was that his people should be a means of blessing to the whole world (Gen. 12:3).
What stranger might God mean to bless today—through me, my word, my life?
Lord, refresh my barren life, my society, my nation, and Your good earth. I thank You that Your renewing can bring new life in the most barren circumstances.
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