20 March 2018Jeremiah 30:1-17
“I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the LORD.” (v. 17)
Psalm: Psalm 119:65-80
The passages for the rest of this week, as we prepare for the Holy Week story of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest and crucifixion, come from the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah is a prophet for troubled – even terrible – times. He comments on a period from the late 7th century to the early 6th century BC, when rival empires clashed across the area that we now call the Middle East and in where Israel was only fleetingly able to assert its independence from these great powers. Although his words have been edited by those who followed him, Jeremiah gives us a glimpse of an age when a brief time of national hope and religious reform under King Josiah gave way to the awful experiences of warfare, siege, defeat and exile. As he says in verse 5:
“We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.”
In chapter after chapter Jeremiah vocalises the deep fear and hurt of a traumatised people. Whether they were in exile in Babylon or still living in devastated Judah, the Jewish people were gripped by fear, doubt and the temptation to despair. It was all too easy to feel abandoned by God. Jeremiah spares us none of these negative feelings; indeed, he puts them into excruciatingly painful language. But there is more to Jeremiah than the language of despair. He has a word of promise even in a time of threat. He looks forward to a future when God will vindicate Israel, when slavery will be replaced by freedom, when humiliation will give way to self-respect and when deep dis-ease will disappear in the face of restored health.
- Where do you hear the cries of panic and terror in our time?
- How do you find space to hear the pain and suffering of the world?
- What word of hope does your Christian faith articulate?