Devotional on Jeremiah

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.

Devotional on Jeremiah

Business, but not quite “as usual”
Jeremiah 32: I will restore everything that was lost.
When I think of parts of the Bible that were written in jail it’s the Apostle Paul and several letters of his from the New Testament that come to mind. However, many years earlier Jeremiah was locked up and continued to declare his messages from God. In this case Jeremiah is in jail for insisting that the invading Babylonian army is going to be successful. He urges everyone to surrender and take their punishment. Even as he’s proclaiming this message, the Lord tells him that he needs to conduct some family business. It must have seemed odd to his fellow prisoners to see this man who’s been saying their nation is about to fall stop to buy some land from a relative of his. If everyone’s going to be taken away as Jeremiah claims, why in the world would he take time to buy property? Jeremiah does his business and then asks that the deed and other paperwork be sealed in a jar and buried. That deed won’t be of any use for a long time but someday it’ll be dug up and still be good when God’s people return to their homeland many years hence. Even as Jeremiah proclaims coming disaster he does so with hope for a brighter future. Today, my message may, at times, be more negative than positive. My nation can’t expect to continue down the God-ignoring road it’s on and think that God won’t notice. Still, though, my message should, in general, be a positive one. What happened at Calvary brings the hope of salvation to the whole human race. Even when there’s plenty to be concerned about, that’s the really big news.
Take Away: What happened at Calvary brings the hope of salvation to the whole human race.