10 October 2011

"Neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all the words, was alarmed, nor did they tear their garments." (v. 24)


The book of Jeremiah is set in a fascinating period of history; many of the issues of that time are startlingly relevant to our own day. As was so often the case, the little nations of Israel and Judah were caught up in conflicts between much weightier players on the international scene. Israel collapsed first, but their Assyrian foes were already under threat from elsewhere - Babylon; the people of Judah thought themselves immune, and tried to flex their muscles. Their mistake can be summed up briefly as 'my enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend'. That error of judgement led in time to the collapse of Judah at the hands of Babylon.

Like all the prophets, Jeremiah saw the big picture more clearly than his contemporaries; he saw through the delusions of power in a small country, and directed his secretary, Baruch, to write down his warning of disaster. King Jehoiakim did not approve of this message. When it was delivered to him, written on a scroll, he shredded the scroll, threw the fragments on the fire and ordered Jeremiah to be arrested. Thus began the prophet's life 'on the run'.

Seeing things clearly can be very dangerous.

To Ponder

In today's world who might be 'my enemy's enemy'? How might we be misled in our judgements about them? And how do we arrive at sound judgements?

Jeremiah's message clearly upset the establishment. It also proved to be correct in its assessment of the geo-political situation. Is it inevitable that these characteristics mark all true prophets?

The Church's proclamation of the gospel (good news) can cause upset. How might it be proved correct?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dr John Ogden

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