Steps Along Hope Street
Dear God, Your life is my peace, Your love is my hope. I wait on a word from You today.
Read JEREMIAH 15:1-21
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.
There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it; always hidden, always leaving room to recognize or not to recognize him” (Frederick Buechner).
In 14:11 the Lord told Jeremiah not to pray for Judah because he is not listening. Now Jeremiah is told that the greatest intercessors in history cannot save Judah. Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, was one of Judah’s worst kings. He repented, but the results of his sins followed him in his society. Look at all the verbs of God’s actions beginning with the words, “I will…” Usually God’s strong hand and outstretched arm are mighty to save, but not here (6). Consider how, to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, Jeremiah’s preaching about God’s judgment might actually have been good news—reminding them that it was the Lord who was at work in these catastrophes, not a stronger Marduk, god of Babylon. It seems from v. 9 that there will be no survivors, but later (e.g. 31:7) we see that a remnant will be saved. I reflect on my own society—how things happening now, legislation now being passed, may have shocking effects far downstream of today. I pray, and take what action I can.
The worst aspect of Jeremiah’s struggles with his vocation is that, although the Lord knows about this (15), he seems to do nothing. Lord! You are like a dry wadi, an unreliable spring! What use are they to a thirsty desert traveler! The Lord’s reply is bracing as well as comforting: four times in v. 19 the same verb is used: repent, restore, turn. I hold these verses up as a mirror for myself. I turn to the Lord with all my struggles, my issues and my questions. It is Jeremiah’s prophetic honesty which has brought his words down to us. He was the wall of bronze (20), not Babylon, the overwhelming iron from the north (12).
“Kindle a flame of sacred love / on the mean altar of my heart. / There let it for thy glory burn / with inextinguishable blaze.” Ponder the lyrics of this Charles Wesley (1707-88) hymn and apply them to yourself.
Lord God Almighty, I marvel that You have chosen to use me. May my words and life give testimony to the difference You have made in my life.