Jeremiah’s worst nightmare
Jeremiah 37: Please don’t send me back to that dungeon.
In this passage, the story of Jeremiah returns to Zedekiah and the attack of the Babylonians. The prophet has made many enemies with his gloom and doom preaching. Ultimately, he’s imprisoned on trumped up charges. The prison he finds himself in is his worst nightmare. He’s imprisoned in a cistern. There, we’re told, he stays for a long time. Jeremiah’s out of sight, but he isn’t out of Zedekiah’s mind. The king hates Jeremiah’s sermons, but, somewhere, deep inside himself, he knows that Jeremiah’s telling the truth. Finally, Zedekiah sends for Jeremiah and, in spite of his misery, Jeremiah tells the king, not what he might want to hear, but the truth: Judah will fall and Zedekiah will be handed over to the king of Babylon. Even though the prophet has just given more bad news, Jeremiah pleads with Zedekiah for mercy. He’s done nothing to bring such inhumane treatment upon himself. He begs Zedekiah to not send him back to that terrible dungeon. To his credit the king has mercy on Jeremiah and, while Jeremiah’s to remain under guard, he’s put in a better place and given rations for food. A couple of things come to mind. First, in spite of his fierce messages, Jeremiah’s just a man. He’s miserable and afraid in the cistern. He isn’t too proud to beg for mercy. Even the spiritual giants in my life are still human and in need of compassion and mercy. Second, even though Zedekiah’s deeply flawed, he shows mercy to Jeremiah. We’re created in the image of God and that means that from the most unlikely of candidates there’s the potential of the reflection of his image.
Take Away: Even spiritual giants remain human beings with the accompanying weaknesses and flaws of humanity.
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