Devotional on Jeremiah

A heaping helping of humble pie
Jeremiah 21: I’ve giving you a choice: life or death.
It’s doubly hard for the priest, Pashur, to come to Jeremiah with the request. He’s Jeremiah’s sworn enemy. Just recently he put the prophet in stocks for the night to teach him to mind his tongue. Still, things aren’t going well for the nation. They’re at war with the juggernaut Babylon and barring a miracle they face certain defeat. Even that, though, isn’t why Pashur finds himself in this humiliating conversation with Jeremiah. He’s here because King Zedekiah ordered him to go to Jeremiah and ask this troublesome man to pray for God’s intervention. Pashur protested, sputtering out that Jeremiah has already stated God’s judgment on him and his household. Maybe the king should send someone else. Zedekiah, though, ordered and didn’t ask, so the priest finds himself, hat in hand, asking Jeremiah to pray to God for the deliverance of the country from their powerful enemy. Jeremiah’s response is exactly what Pashur expects: more gloom and doom, more defeatist talk. The prophet says he won’t pray for them, in fact, he’s throwing his support to Nebuchadnezzar and his army. The stubborn prophet declares that not only does God refuse to help them but that he’s actively working against them. God’s offer of mercy is not that he’ll deliver them in battle, but that, if they surrender, they’ll live, carried off as captives. As I read this, I can’t help but think that bargaining with God is never a smart thing to do, but doing so while still rebelling against him, well, that’s just plain crazy.
Take Away: Bargaining with the Lord is never a smart thing to do.

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