Ezra 3: People couldn’t distinguish the shouting from the weeping.
Joining the young adventurers in returning to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem are some who, as young children, saw the Temple before its destruction. When they hear of the expedition to Jerusalem they bravely sign up to return to the land of their birth. These people have stories to tell of what life was like in Jerusalem before it was destroyed. When they stand before the pile of stones that was the center piece of the city their memories are almost more than they can bear. More than anyone else these senior adults realize all that’s been lost. Now, as the foundation for the new Temple is being laid and the dedication celebration is taking place, the younger people shout in excitement. These “remember-ers,” however, begin to weep aloud. Their weeping is a mixture of sadness and joy. They join with the younger people in rejoicing over prospect of the place of worship being rebuilt but they’re saddened as they remember just how much has been lost. The rebuilding of the Temple means a return to God. For the younger people, this is something new and thrilling. It takes the senior adults, those who’ve been “around the block” a few times, to fully appreciate the power of this event. As I hear these white-haired people weeping aloud I’m reminded of the depth some precious “senior saints” provide to my life.
Take Away: Senior Christians offer a depth of perspective that won’t come from any other source.
The weeping prophet
Jeremiah 4: My insides are tearing me up.
If Jeremiah was a modern film maker this portion of his writings would be rated “R” for violence. In one disturbing scene after another he describes the utter destruction that’s coming. Adam Clarke says this is “imagery scarcely paralleled in the whole Bible.” Jeremiah’s not untouched by his own prophecy. We don’t know exactly how this word of the Lord came to him, but if it was in a dream, it was a nightmare and if it was a vision it was a very disturbing vision indeed. He reports “I’m doubled up with cramps in my belly — a poker burns in my gut.” I can’t say that Jeremiah is my favorite Hebrew prophet to read, but his humanity does draw me in. Jeremiah didn’t want to be God’s spokesman in the first place. However, he accepts the Lord’s appointment and his journey begins. When he sees the coming destruction he isn’t a disconnected reporter. Instead, he’s part of the story. As wave after wave of visions of destruction wash over him he’s sick to his stomach. He says to the Lord, “How long do I have to look at the warning flares, listen to the siren of danger?” All he wants is out of this. As a “proclaimer” of God’s Word in my generation I need some of his spirit. Otherwise, I (and other Christians) sound hard and hateful and am easily rejected by the very people who must hear the message. If I can interact with lost people without being moved by their plight something’s wrong with me and I need a spiritual transfusion from this “weeping prophet.”
Take Away: Judgment, when it must be preached, must be preached with tears in our eyes.