On God's Side
Lord God, You are wise, strong, patient, and loving. Pour Your wisdom, strength, patience, and love into me today.
Read JEREMIAH 27:1-22
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.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29,30).
Today’s series of messages around the visual aid of an agricultural yoke comes about ten years after the events in ch. 26. Jeremiah speaks in the reign of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar’s puppet, during which there was a lively debate over what to do about Babylon: rebel with the help of Egypt, or acquiesce? Zedekiah himself was inclined to rebel. Even after national humiliation (20), though, Jeremiah still hears the message that Nebuchadnezzar is God’s servant. He still has his eye on the endgame, the ongoing life of the people (17). The people of God were more significant to him (and to God) than the corrupt kingdom of Judah. The life of the people of God is still more important than the flawed institutions within which we express that life.
As befits a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah preaches the same message of servitude to Judah’s neighbors (3). By reporting that he has done so, he reminds his own people that God’s attention to them is part of a much wider concern for all peoples. God is not uniquely on their side—and it is just possible that God may not always be on our side either.
In another sense, God never stops being on the side of Israel, and on our side. The hurt caused by Nebuchadnezzar’s theft of the temple treasures runs deeply through the text like a running sore on the Israelite psyche (see v. 16). In promising that they will one day be returned (22), God reassures his people of his ongoing interest in them. When Ezra was allowed by Cyrus to take the treasures back with him to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:7) it was a moment of joy. It symbolized God’s care and his ongoing permission for human expressions of knowing God, imperfect though they be.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). Think of those whom God has used, positively or negatively, to bring growth into your life.
Lord, preserve me from throwing off the yoke of Christ in the name of false hopes.
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