God’s People, part 89: Jeremiah

Read Jeremiah 1

“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’ For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.'” (Jeremiah 32:14-15 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

JeremiahPart 89: Jeremiah. Jeremiah is one of my favorite prophets. In our last devotion we talked about how he was prophet during the time of King Zedekiah, who refused to listen to Jeremiah’s counsel on how to deal with King Nebuchadnezzar II. Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of God, told the king that he ought to submit himself, and all of Jerusalem with him, to the will of Babylonian King. This would have meant that Zedekiah would merely have been a vassal, or puppet king, of Nebuchadnezzar.

Zedekiah had other ideas and, not only did he not listen to Jeremiah, he detested his advice. How dare this prophet tell him how to handle the Babylonian King! How dare this loud-mouthed, whiny prophet tell him to submit to the will of a foreign empire. Zedekiah was not going to let that happen if he could hep it.

Well, we all know now that Zedekiah really couldn’t help it. Jerusalem didn’t have the forces to stand up to the great Babylonian army; therefore, they had to rely on the enemy of their enemy for military support. We all know how such alliances end up, or at least many of them. They ended up allying themselves with Egypt (a former enemy themselves) who never, in the end, came through for them because it really wasn’t in their interest to. In the end, all that alliance did was anger the Babylonian King and cause him to set off for Jerusalem to beseige, conquer and exile them. We all know how that ended: it was utterly catastrophic for Jerusalem, its king, his family and the people of Jerusalem as a whole.

In the process of standing up to the king and warning him of the destruction that laid ahead, Jeremiah endured all sorts of abuse. He was mocked, beaten up, thrown into cistern where he sat for days, and imprisoned. The king and many of his other advisers did not take him seriously; however, Jeremiah’s prophecy did end up getting fulfilled in the end. Sadly, that meant the destruction of everything that was dear to the Jews, as well as the exile of countless people to Babylon. Jerusalem and Judah would never, ever be the same again.

But Jeremiah was not always so bold. When God first called him into the role of prophet, he could not believe that God would actually choose him. “But Lord,” Jeremiah protested, “I cannot speak for you, for I am too young” God would not have any of those excuses.

“The LORD replied, ‘Don’t say, “I’m too young,” for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!’ Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, ‘Look, I have put My words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.’” (Jeremiah 1:7-10 NLT)

God’s appointment of him as a prophet, I am sure, was not comforting to him; however, he did, inevitably, say yes to God. The rest is history, as the phrase goes, and the prophet does end up witnessing the end of one kingdom all the while ensuring the future of another kingdom, yet to come. The question for us is this, do we automatically reject God’s call on our lives? Do we fail to see the potential God sees in us? Perhaps, like Jeremiah, it is time to trust that God knows what God is doing and say “yes” to God’s call.

God knows us better than we even know ourselves. Trust in God’s call.

Lord, while I do not see in me what you see in me, I put my trust in you. Amen.

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