Jeremiah 32

Long term investment.

Jumping back to the seize of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is being held in the kings palace because of his negative talk. The King asks him why, why does he keep saying they will lose?

God has prepared him for this moment by getting him to do a sign showing his long term investment, literally, in the promised land. He’s got him to buy a field during the siege. He’s hidden the deed away, because God has promised one day it will mean something.

The King probably knew they would most likely be defeated. But he just didn’t want to hear it. Jeremiah became an external thing to focus his own fear on.

God and by extension Jeremiah are putting their money on Jerusalem in a tangible way that sort of turns the table on who is the fear monger and who is not.

But it also demonstrates the inequality of power, the king is losing his grip on his, but God never will. Why do we always fall for the earthly power?

Jeremiah is a book about listening to God. He often says the last thing you want to hear.

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Jeremiah 26

Jeremiah is threatened with death. His sermon is apparently the same as in chapter 7. But this message that “burns in his bones” aggravates the people and the officials so much that they want to kill him.

Thank goodness for the rabbinical tradition of scholarship, at his trial priests can quote word for word Michah from 100 years earlier, saying much the same message. They figure they might be going against the word of God to execute him.

But the text notes the king did not hesitate to track down and kill another prophet who spoke a message of doom like Jeremiah.

So a few things to note:

God told him not to diminish the message. Spin/couching not an option when it’s God’s truth at stake.

His “defense” was to simply trust God. He blamed God, in the sense that he said he had no choice but to deliver his message. He continued to call for their repentance during the trial.

He had a protector, we’re given the name of someone who made sure he was safe. After all, it’s clear the mob were after him as well as the big wigs.

So there’s a guidebook for if ever your faith requires you to go out on a limb.

Jeremiah 20

Rock bottom

Jeremiah is put in the stocks and beaten, probably whipped, by one of the priests. His humiliation occurs in one of the most prominent parts of the city, next to the temple.

We see his pubic and private response. In public he is unmoved. He continues preaching it from the moment he is released.

Privately he is devastated. He talks about his deep desire to stop preaching, but complains that when he does the message burns in his bones.

This is my favourite part of the chapter and worth a song “burn in my bones Lord!”

He compares himself to a bride seduced under false pretences into an abusive marriage.

He really hits rock bottom with the final miserable poem about wishing he’d never been born.

The language is so extreme. He curses his father essentially for not aborting him as a fetus because if his mother’s womb had been his grave it would have been forever praised instead of cursed.

That’s someone who really wishes they hadn’t been born.

And that’s where he’s left for today. The are 30 more chapters so I’m guessing he carries on.

But it’s worth considering when you let the promptings of the holy spirit slip by, when you don’t say or do that action that would increase God’s grace in someone’s life. You aren’t the first person to ask “why me”? But the question doesn’t justify letting yourself off the hook. Unfortunately,  most likely, it is you.

Jeremiah 12

Sucks to be God’s messenger. Last chapter Jeremiah discovered there was a plot to kill him for speaking God’s word.

This chapter he argues with God’s over the fairness of his message. He asks why God people have to suffer. He’s the meat in the sandwich, but such is his calling I suppose.

God’s answer is a) there are a lot less good people than you think, and b) there will be a restoration and compassion after the invasion.

I’m now being paid to write about God’s work and his nature, it’s an extraordinary privilege for a believer. May I remain faithful and true like Jeremiah.

2 Kings 18

OK so while the kingdom of Israel is dying, the kingdom of Judah gets the best King arguably since David. 

Hezekiah finally not only serves the lord personally but leads the people right, he takes down the sacred poles and high places of worship to other Gods.

God does not actually intervene in this chapter. The Assyrians arrive and trash talk the lord and any thought of resistance. It’s psychological warfare. Or bullying.

The chapter ends with messengers running to the king, tearing their clothes in distress and telling him all that the Assyrians have said.

I had a sleepless night tonight. Nothing in particular to worry about, just the sense of being trapped by being overcommitted at work and at home. 

Cooking for home group tonight. I’ve been thinking about a song I wrote called “don’t forget to pray” and, for all this Bible reading I do, I do often forget. 

I’ve been doing this of and on for a few years now, and it’s well and truly a habit, but it can almost be an escape. I’m a timid person in many ways, prayer leads to a more motivated appreciation of God’s will. I wonder if I’ve been avoiding that.

Numbers 27

A family of five daughters gets the inheritance rules changed so that the family name doesn’t only pass though the male line.

Not only another example of the Israelites being one of the more progressive ancient cultures as regards women, it shows how much the family stake in the promised land meant to them. 

Their parents, as punishment for being faithless after the Exodus, could not see the promised land. But they had enough of a journey in belief that they believed their children would, and it was important to them that their family name continued to be part of that. 
Moses commissions Joshua to lead the people. We are set for reaching the holy land!

Numbers 13

An advance party of representatives from the tribes does recon in Canaan.

The are three reports in a sense.

The uncoloured one says it’s a great place to live but the people are strong and in fortified cities.

Caleb from Judah gives the pro spin: we can beat them, it will be great. The tacit message accepts that they probably can’t beat them on their own, but accounts for having God’s promise on their side.

The rest give the negative spin: the people are Giants (lie), we’ll never beat them (faithless), and the land isn’t that great anyway (lie).

So its a spiritual issue, because its not any land, it’s God’s promised land. The negative reports can’t imagine God’s help. They are defeatist and exaggerate the danger. They must have been crushing for morale and faith. They come as a killer blow after two chapters of stories of unrest and doubt.

I went to my first parish council meeting last night and it’s tempting to wonder at the organisation God’s has entrusted his great mission to.

A tiny group of people, saddled with a magnificent but crumbling building we can’t imagine (or probably even justify) keeping maintained. $350,000 needed for the belltower. Meanwhile, making tiny dents on a vast spiritual and social task that seems insurmountable.

The size of the problems vs. our resources for them – seems preposterously unequal.

Wandering in the wilderness really doesn’t work on any level without a promise and hope in it.

Numbers 10

The practicalities of leaving camp and setting up again. The Silver trumpet sounds and it’s time to go.

So they set off, 3 days and then camp in the desert of Parhan. Sounds great!

Moses calls on God for security whenever they leave ‘may God scatter his enemies. They are very dependent on God for security, totally for food. It a striking walk of faith, this whole nation.

Genesis 37

Now the story of Joseph, one of the greatest. 

It puts the brother’s behaviour in perspective knowing what a cruel bunch his brothers are, after the incident with Dinah a few chapters ago. 

Though that involved them killing a whole village from is a misguided sense of loyalty, and this involved extreme sibling rivalry.

So much comes back to Jacob’s character flaws. The brother’s are sneaky and heartless. It took Reuben, who we last saw committing quasi incest, to talk them out of actually killing him.

Joseph is comfortable at 17 bragging about being the preferred younger son. Jacob’s history repeats there.

Of course it was more than just jealousy, the family wealth was at stake. Joseph in telling his dreams about the brother’s bowing down to him was intentionally or not rubbing his brothers noses in his favoured state with their father.

It’s hard to know what to deduce about Joseph’s character from this. He’s telling the truth about his dreams about god’s future blessing on him. Was he bragging or merely honest. 

We have blessing, we aren’t to let shame about our unearned salvation mean we avoid telling others they need it. But we do. Damnation is an awkward subject with non-Christian friends. 

Was he foolish to speak of his blessedness, given his brothers history of violent greed, or simply faithful, knowing that if God has plans for him nothing they will do will forfeit them?

Joseph’s character is not clear yet. But god’s blessing is.

2 Samuel 2

David is talking to God again. David is a man of war and of action. But he is also deeply godly, though he has been though a time of personal spiritual rebellion living almost as a philistine.

It’s been years since he was anointed king. He will not seize it. He waits for God. When he becomes king it will be gods doing, not his. 

It can be tempting, if you feel you know god’s will, to push him along a bit. But you risk losing sight of where god’s will ends and your own ambition starts. Not so David!

A weak king, representing the Saul power base is given the larger part of Israel. David reminds them of the respect he always gave Saul, and tells them not to do it.

There is a long civil war, hideous, literally brother against brother, as the Saul base try to take all of the country and only becomes weaker and weaker.

David’s patience is a terrific example. To him the end does not justify the means, he stays true to his principle though it all.

David is talking to God again…