Wednesday 28 July 2010

Bible Book:

"In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult." (v.15)

Jeremiah 15:10-21 Wednesday 28 July 2010


It was not a good time to be a prophet when God called Jeremiahto the task. Not only was he a mere teenager ("Truly I do not knowhow to speak, for I am only a boy" - Jeremiah 1:6) but also, formost of his 40-year career, the people to whom he spoke lived underthe threat of imminent disaster - political and natural. Virtuallythe first message of God that Jeremiah relays is one of foreigninvasion: "Out of the north disaster shall break out on all theland" (Jeremiah 1:14).

Fifteen chapters later, little has changed - except perhaps this...The fates of Judah and of Jeremiah have become inextricablyentwined; their experiences virtually indistinguishable. In much ofthe book of Jeremiah we have to keep asking ourselves, who isspeaking? God? Jeremiah on behalf of the people? Jeremiah on hisown behalf? When the prophet pleads with God not to take him away,he seems to be talking about an exile that threatens himpersonally, agonising that his ministry has been in vain.

Yet, when God responds to Jeremiah's distress, it is with wordsthat have universal relevance. They seem to speak to the nation aswell as the prophet, offering words of hope to those who startlistening to God's word: "If you turn back, I will take you back... I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked". Nowhereamong the prophets of the Hebrew Bible is there anyone whoexpresses their emotions more openly than Jeremiah. He is a man whoshows us how to be honest to God. At the same time, his experienceof suffering and rejection seems to mirror the pain of God to suchan extent that when we hear Jeremiah's words of complaint, we feelwe are hearing God's word too. In Jeremiah, the medium becomes themessage.

To Ponder

Think of a time when you have been particularlyhonest with God about your pain or despair. To what extent didbeing honest help?

How do you keep an honest and open conversationwith God going in the good and mundane times as well as in times ofcrisis?

To see and hear Jeremiah is to see and hear God.How do people see God in you when you are out shopping, dealingwith a stroppy toddler or argumentative teenager, or perhapsfinding work difficult?

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