Read: Jeremiah 14-17
From prayers for relief during a drought to remembering the Sabbath, Jeremiah reminds us to turn to God for all of our needs. He even pauses to ask God for consideration for himself as his ministry is not so popular (to say the least). No doubt there are seasons in our lives when we just want to ask God for some assurance that we’re really doing that which he has called us to do.
There is a period of drought in the land, things are not going well at all,
her cities languish;
they wail for the land,
and a cry goes up from Jerusalem.
Although our sins testify against us,
do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.
For we have often rebelled;
we have sinned against you.
Do something, Lord! How many times have I made that plea? Looking around as everything seems to be going to dust, things are falling apart — do something, only do not forsake us.
This is what the Lord says about this people:
“They greatly love to wander;
they do not restrain their feet.
So the Lord does not accept them;
he will now remember their wickedness
and punish them for their sins.”
We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
and the guilt of our ancestors;
we have indeed sinned against you.
For the sake of your name do not despise us;
do not dishonor your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us
and do not break it.
It’s somewhat surprising to read the next few verses:
Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! Jeremiah 15:1
Four destroyers will come and winnow the people with a winnowing fork at the city gates; God will not be mocked anymore by the very people he rescued.
Jeremiah continues to preach the message God has given him, but it seems that he is troubled by the response, or lack of response, he gets as a result.
Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth,
a man with whom the whole land strives and contends!
I have neither lent nor borrowed,
yet everyone curses me.
I would not want to be Jeremiah! Yet God assures him he will take care of him, though his enemies will increase.
“I will save you from the hands of the wicked
and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.”
Day of Disaster
From bad to worse, the message simply doesn’t improve: “Both high and low will die in this land. They will not be buried or mourned, and no one will cut themselves or shave their head for the dead. (Jeremiah 16:6). When the people ask why, the response suggests this is a multigenerational problem:
‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. Jeremiah 16:11-12
When we look at our current generation and wonder if it could get worse, the words here give me some indication that the answer is yes, it can get worse as the next generation builds on the shaky ground of the current. God’s promise and hope is that of restoration–he will restore his people eventually.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
Psalm 139 comes to mind (yet again). Search me and know my heart, Lord, but remember that I’m merely a man stumbling along trying to make a way in this world, attempting to make a small difference in the garden I’m planted in.
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
Remember the Sabbath
It’s fitting to end today’s reading with a reminder to keep the Sabbath, words I say to myself over and over again. God is serious about the Sabbath, but our busy lives, well, in the life I have perhaps made so busy, it seems the Sabbath gets little attention. Lord, help me to figure out how to get this rhythm into the weekly routine for my life. I have a lot to learn!