May 17, 2020, Jeremiah 21:8-14 – ISSL Reflections

The words we hear from the Prophet Jeremiah this week are set up by the inquiry King Zedekiah sends to the Jeremiah,

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, saying, “Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon is making war against us; perhaps the Lord will perform a wonderful deed for us, as he has often done, and will make him withdraw from us.” Jeremiah 21:1-2

If it’s true as I have heard before that most questions have the answer – or expected answer – held within the question, is it too much to see what the King wanted to hear? Or maybe even expected to hear?

What answer did the King receive?

As you spend time with this passage notice not only the answers that Jeremiah give, but also the different parties to whom he directs the Lord’s answers.

Jeremiah 21:8-14 (New Revised Standard Version)

And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out and surrender to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have their lives as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for evil and not for good, says the Lord: it shall be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

To the house of the king of Judah say: Hear the word of the Lord, O house of David! Thus says the Lord:

Execute justice in the morning,
and deliver from the hand of the oppressor
anyone who has been robbed,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
and burn, with no one to quench it,
because of your evil doings.

See, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley,
O rock of the plain,
says the Lord;
you who say, “Who can come down against us,
or who can enter our places of refuge?”

I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings,
says the Lord;
I will kindle a fire in its forest,
and it shall devour all that is around it.

As we begin our reflections on this passage, I can’t help but wonder about two things.

First, how do we handle disappointment with God?

Does that sound irreligious to you? Or maybe you think it borders on the blasphemous?

But have there been times when you expected one thing of God, or God’s people, and an entirely different thing came about? Something you thought was wrong to happen? Especially to happen to you?

When God’s people disappoint us, do we sometimes blame not just the people but God for that?

Second, as we hear Jeremiah speak of the “disaster” awaiting the nation, what aspects of this are worthy of us applying to situations today? Said in another way, how do we know what in a passage such as this is time/place specific and what should be universalized as we understand our lives lived as God’s people?

Would you give that some thought, before we get back together?

We’ll talk,

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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