Jeremiah 40 to 43 In the NT, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites meaning one who has the form of godliness without the power. But these religious leaders were not the first; Jeremiah meets them in our reading today. They came to Jeremiah feigning piety seeking God’s counsel about the next step.
Standing before him, they said: please pray to the Lord “your” God that He will tell us where we should go. We promise that whatever he says we will do. Ten days later Jeremiah emerges from his prayer closet with God’s counsel and it is resoundingly rejected. Those who were so pious showed their true heart when they said the Lord “our” God did not send you to tell us to stay here. How quickly they changed from ‘your’ God to ‘our’ God.
Setting piety aside they said, we are going to Egypt and guess what, you are going with us. How often are we like these people? We ask others to pray but when the answer comes we say no way did God say that. That is the height of hypocrisy!
God demands that we listen and obey. Proverbs 3 says ‘trust in the Lord’ with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. We say the first phrase but omit the second. God is not pleased.
Jeremiah 37 -39 The Hero is the Man of the Hour
Novels and mysteries have cliff hanger episodes to keep us riveted to the plot. Jeremiah’s book is no different and chapter by chapter we are privy to the plans of the villains and the heroes. First is the cowardly vacillating king, Zedekiah. The villains seek to keep the king from making a decision to surrender to the Babylonians. The hero is the man behind the scene yet to be discovered.
King Zedekiah vacillates between keeping the prophet Jeremiah safe but in the next moment lets the villains plot his demise. Jeremiah makes a fateful mistake-or so we would surmise-to leave Jerusalem. The villains catch him and throw him into a muddy cistern and place a cover over it. End of Jeremiah, right?
While the villains are busy slapping each other on the back for getting rid of Jeremiah, our man of the hour, our hero, Ebed Melech, a court servant, is busy convincing Zedekiah to get Jeremiah out of the cistern. Some time later he and thirty men use with ropes, rags, and towels to raise Jeremiah out of the cistern. Ebed Melech is the man of the hour.
Jeremiah probably thought he made a fateful mistake by trying to leave Jerusalem, but God was looking to demonstrate a lesson of what a faithful servant looks like behind the scenes. Ebed Melech just cared about Jeremiah, he wasn’t looking for any credit but God cared about Ebed Melech. As a reward, God told Jeremiah to tell him that he could be rescued and saved when the Babylonians take Jerusalem.
You never know when God will use you to be the man or woman (think Esther) of the hour but God’s eyes see and He rewards faithfulness.
[picture of a cistern, 1500 yr old, found in Jerusalem courtesy of Pinterest ]
Jeremiah 33 If you read or watch the news it can be pretty daunting. But, we who are His children know that God has the world in the palm of His hand and He orchestrates it all for His glory. Yet, even so, God reminds us “call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know.”
What great things are you yearning to know? God wants to open your eyes, your ears and your heart to understand the wonderful things He has for you as His child. What he told the people of Judah then is as true for you today.
Are you carrying a burden today? Do you need strength and wisdom? Remember these words from James: ask in faith without doubting. Doubters are like the wave of the sea. Doubters will not receive anything from the Lord because a doubter is a double-minded person. They vacillate between believing and doubting. God wants those who will trust Him on His team. God promises that if we truly call on him and do not doubt, He will open the windows of heaven and pour forth His blessings.
Call on Him today and believe.
Jeremiah 29 Mail call has to be the very best time in a college student or a service man’s life. It is sweet to get that snail mail that has been lovingly sent with thoughts of news of home and family. Parents and friends want us to remember that whether life is good or bad, these two important principles must be on your mind always: “don’t forget who you are and don’t forget whose you are.” Don’t bring shame upon the family name and on the name of Jehovah. Remain faithful to both.
Jeremiah was trying to instill those principles in the lives of the Judahites in Jerusalem but his words fell on deaf ears. Even hundreds of miles away the exiles were hearing—don’t worry, it will end soon. Our wealth will be returned to the Temple and our kings will rise again. Instead, life dragged on day after day after day. Lovingly, God sent them Ezekiel to explain it all and then out of the blue, the exiles received this love letter from Jeremiah.
The news here is the same; King Zedekiah is stubborn. But you can know this; you are loved. So, don’t listen to the false reports of this ending! They are not from me! I want you to remain faithful. and live as if you were in Jerusalem. The Lord told me that He has “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. [He has] plans to give you a future filled with hope.” God will take care of you each day.
Loving you, Jeremiah.
PS don’t forget to pray for the Babylonians.
PPS: Don’t forget who you are; you are an Isaac, or a Joshua or a Rahab.
Don’t forget whose you are, you are a child of the Most High God.
What would you do with that letter; save it or toss it?
Jeremiah 21:8 The phrase great minds think alike is often used when one or another come up with the same thought. Moses, Joshua, Elijah and Jeremiah thought alike, talked alike, and wrote alike in many ways. Listen to their words:
Jeremiah: ‘I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death.[Jer 21]
Moses: Today I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life. [Deut 30]
Joshua: Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve [Josh 24]
Elijah: How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. [1Kings 18]
The people were at a crossroads. They could choose God’s way or the world’s way. Moses said: It is in your mouth and in your mind so that you can do it. [Deut 30:14]
But men do not like rules; they can delay or choose their own way. Jesus said; For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Choose God and life or Baal and death. What will you choose?
Jeremiah 15 “Jeremiah’s Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”
Alexander is a storybook character where nothing goes right in his world. Mother assures him that no matter where you are there will always be such days. That is where we find Jeremiah. He is having an Alexander Day and it is terrible, no good and very bad.
“I wish I never was born; Lord you know how I suffer; everyone treats me with contempt. I am all alone and have not one friend. Oh, woe is me!” Can you hear his whining? It was just at that moment God came and said: ‘You must repent of such words and thoughts!’ We might say it like this: “stuff it, or get over it!”
Jeremiah then took time from his pouting and went to God’s Word. His “words came to me, I drank them in and they filled my heart with joy and happiness.” God provides experiences to make us strong as a wall to whatever comes our way. The enemy will not be able to overcome us; He will be with us to rescue and deliver us.
God was his encourager and he lifted him from the miry clay of despair.
We all at times have an Alexander/Jeremiah day. If you can relate, God has heard your plea and He is saying return to Me. Repent of such words! Get over it! Remember, I am your joy and I will be your deliverer.
Jeremiah 9:23 “What Do You Boast In”
One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped where contestants are given sundry food items from which they are to craft a dish in a prescribed time frame. Then the taste test begins and with each round the judges “chop” one contestant until there is only one left. To that person goes the “bragging rights” along with a financial reward.
As believers we are not in a contest nor do we have to fear being “chopped” but do we have bragging rights? Jeremiah says unequivocally no! We have no bragging rights to ‘our” wisdom, power or wealth. We may be wise, but it is only partial for God knows all. Power or strength is temporary or someone else will prove stronger than us. Wealth ebbs and flows with the market and it cannot buy love joy or peace and even wise people die and leave their wealth to others.
What then can we “brag” or boast about? It is this: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence” [1Cor 1] To have a personal relationship with the living God is something we can boast about. God says boast that we know and understand the attributes of God of faithfulness, fairness, and justice.
We haven’t been “chopped.” Go and brag about God each and every day giving Him the glory He deserves.
Jeremiah 6 Heeding Instructions
Ezekiel was told to pay attention, watch closely, and listen carefully and Jeremiah echoed those words! He reminded them that they were standing at the crossroads and must decide; God’s way or the world’s way. He also reminded them that the ways of their forefathers who chose the ‘good way’ or the ‘right way,’ they were now calling old fashioned. Like many even today the glitz and glamor outweigh the prudent and wise ways of God.
The nation was standing at the crossroads of life. They must consider their path—there is the narrow way that leads to God or the wide path that leads to destruction. A funny but true story of a prophet teaches that principle.
Balaam refused to listen to his donkey that had been empowered by God to speak. Balaam was both deaf and blind to the wisdom of the donkey until the angel opened his eyes when the donkey was in a narrow place with nowhere to turn. This story illustrates that if we fail to follow God’s way we may too find ourselves in a narrow place with nowhere to turn. Jeremiah is saying to his people and to us: Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it.
Smart advice: Don’t be stubborn like the prophet but choose God’s way. Remember the words of Proverbs: The one who wanders from the way of wisdom will end up in the company of the departed.
Jeremiah 5 Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet and as you wander through his diary you can see the tears on every page. Being sold out for God means you weep with those who weep and smile with those who smile. It is a mixed bag. It isn’t easy being God’s disciple in an angry world. God calls him because He knows Jeremiah will be faithful to the end. Are we?
As he walks the city streets of Jerusalem God is saying, I need you to be My eyes. What do you see? You live there. Is there even a single person who is dealing honestly? Is there even a single person who is trying to be truthful? If the answer is yes I will refrain from punishing.
Remember Abraham with God overlooking Sodom? Instead of God asking, it was Abraham. He asks God will you really sweep away the godly along with the wicked. What if there are 50 godly people and so on the argument went. In the end, Abraham’s pleading saved Lot because as Peter notes that he was righteous and in anguish over the debauched life of Sodom.
It isn’t easy being a disciple in an angry world. Does God count us faithful to be His eyes and ears? Are we willing to plead for God to spare the righteous?
Isaiah 61 Have you heard or even voiced: what does God want me to do? I feel like I am spinning wheels and have no direction. Messiah didn’t have that problem so why do we? Perhaps the key is in knowing that you have been anointed – selected, elected for the service of the Lord. Peter writes: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. John wrote: Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, [1Jo 2:20]
Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, the reason God chose Him. He was sent to see into the hearts of men the desperate need for healing of the soul, mind and the body too. You, as His child, are also anointed to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you. It might be a mother who sees a child who has made a wrong choice, a father who has lost his job, a pastor who is drained from the heavy responsibilities of his position, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely.
Remember, if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit’s anointing so do we so we can fulfill the great commission. You are anointed precious believer!