17 October 2011

"I will make an end of all the nations among which I have banished you, but I will not make an end of you!" (v. 28)


This passage comes towards the end of the prophecies of Jeremiah, just when it all seems to have gone wrong both for the prophet and his people. He has warned for many years of a coming judgement upon Judah for its faithlessness, and its people haven't listened to him. That destruction of Jerusalem has now taken place and the prophet is surrounded by the resultant carnage. But the position gets still worse, as the leaders of that remnant which hasn't been taken off into exile approach Jeremiah to ask the prophet what God tells them to do now.

Jeremiah's response is to say that they should accept their punishment as judgement from God and remain in Judah; but once more the leaders ignore him. They declare that he is telling a lie (Jeremiah 43:2) and take him away with them into exile in Egypt, "for they did not obey the voice of the Lord" which Jeremiah had spoken (Jeremiah 43:7).

Our passage today is taken from a series of prophecies which Jeremiah addresses to the nations from his exile in Egypt. It's a warning that there is no security to be found in Egypt; that just like Judah, its people will be handed over to destruction at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his officers (verse 26).

But despite all these tragic events, despite the faithlessness of Judah and its leaders, Jeremiah remains convinced that God has not given up on them. "For I am going to save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity," says God through the prophet (v. 27). The end may be near for Egypt and the other nations around them; but God still intends to deliver his people Israel.

To Ponder

There are many voices warning of coming judgement and disaster in our world today; how easy do we find it to listen to them?

Is it possible to hear God's word in the warnings, for example, about global warming and environmental degradation? What instances can you think of?

It's sometimes said that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes; is that true for the people of Israel? To what extent has that also been true for you?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dr Stephen Wigley

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