9 April 2011

Jeremiah 11:18-20

"But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause." (v. 20)


In today's passage Jeremiah is at the early stages of a challenging and dangerous ministry. A priest from the tribe of Benjamin (Jeremiah 1:1), Jeremiah is called to prophesy to a nation resisting the efforts of their King to reform. Following the discovery of a long forgotten scroll of laws found in the temple, King Josiah calls his people to reject their idolatrous practices and seek God again but they are slow to change their ways. Consequently, Jeremiah finds he must challenge the people with the truth about their failings. He talks of destruction and exile to a nation reluctant to hear and seeks to encourage them to restore their covenant relationship of love, obedience and trust with God.

God promises Jeremiah that the people will not overcome him and that he will be protected throughout his ministry (Jeremiah 1:18-20) and chapter 11 is the first of many occasions in which God's promises are fulfilled. The passage is essentially Jeremiah's realisation that God has warned him and saved him from a plot against his life.

Within Jeremiah's response we see two very distinct attitudes to God. On the one hand he is quick to recognise God's protection in the face of his own powerlessness (verses 18-19) and to realise that God knows our private as well as our audible response to that love. He is quick to commit himself into God's care once again (verse 20). On the other hand there is a distinct desire on Jeremiah's part to see his enemies avenged. This raises interesting questions about the way we pray for situations and individuals that we perceive to be unjust.

To Ponder

How comfortable are we with the concept of praying for God's vengeance? Why?

How should we pray for those individuals we see as exploitative and unjust?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Pryde

Jenny Pryde studied at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham. She is stationed to the United North East Circuit and was ordained in July 2009.