Wednesday 17 March 2021

Bible Book:

] Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them” (v. 20)

Jeremiah 18:18-20 Wednesday 17 March 2021

Psalm 112


It is hard not to feel sorry for Jeremiah. Compelled to speak the truth to power, Jeremiah is already aware that obediently telling people what God needs him to say comes at a great personal cost. Here, in verse 18, it becomes clear that as well as the people of Judah ignoring his warnings and rejecting God’s call to repent and change, the unnamed leaders in Judah now want to punish him.

 People who challenge the 'status quo' are rarely welcomed  by the powerful with open arms and minds! Such individuals are a threat to an ordered, often privileged group who have been used to making all the decisions. The stand against apartheid, environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, the American Civil Rights Movement, the Fair Trade organisation, Jubilee 2000, LGBT rights' movements,  and Black Lives Matter, are just a few organisations that in more recent history have challenged the prevailing 'wisdom' of international bodies, governments and individuals. So many movements like these have encountered apathy to begin with; followed by verbal intimidation and abuse; and often, usually as the ethical argument is being won, actual violence. Challenging the powerful rarely comes without a cost, as we have seen across the globe.

 Jeremiah’s formidable enemies now set out to destroy him. In verse 18 they say: “Let us not heed any of his words”  and “Let us bring charges against him.” What awaits Jeremiah? Will it be trumped up charges, a show trial, and a lengthy spell in prison or exile? The very people that Jeremiah has desperately been trying to help, for whom he has been praying to see the light and pleading that they turn back to God, these are the leaders who now want to be rid of his message by removing the messenger. As we read in verse 18, Jeremiah’s adversaries can find their own prophet or priest or wisdom to fit their own purposes, no doubt an early example of 'fake news'.

Six hundred years later Jesus said to Pilate, “What is truth?” Fundamentally, not a lot changes when truth confronts power.


To Ponder:

  • The 18th century cleric Charles Caleb Colton said: “The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.”  In the 19th century, the poet Robert Browning wrote, “I thirst for truth, but shall not reach it till I reach the source." Are these quotations helpful as you as, like Jeremiah, you contemplate ways of speaking truth to power?
  • How possible is it to pray for someone who has wronged you, or for a leader who has turned out to be abusing power, unless you also believe in repentance and forgiveness?
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