I know that I am way behind on my reading. Maybe I'll get caught up this weekend and join you next week in Lamentations. Here are just a few things that jumped out at me in my reading today.
Did you notice in Chapter 25 that Jeremiah prophesies that the exile will last 70 years. I know that you remember how to tell a real prophet? If his predictions come true. In Jeremiah's case, he is the real deal. After 70 years the first wave of exiles began to return to the devastated Jerusalem. You can find there story in Ezra and Nehemiah.
Notice in verse 12, "But when the 70 years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt," declares the Lord, "and will make it desolate forever. I will bring upon that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations." The proof of this prophesy is told in the book of Daniel when Cyrus the Great enters Babylon and kills Belshazzar the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. I think if interesting to think about the continuing history of this area. Is the prophecy still in effect? Modern day Iraq occupies the area that was once known as Babylon. War and rumor of war have been commonplace for centuries in this area. Is it still cursed by God?
In chapter 26 Jeremiah is threatened with death because his prophecies are of God's displeasure and the impending judgment that is coming to Judah and her kings. This simply shows that obedience to God will not necessarily mean blessing in this world. This world is often ruled by the Prince of Darkness and those who follow in God's way will meet resistance. Paul was beaten and imprisoned. Jeremiah was imprisoned, throne in a well and threatened. Foxe's Book of Martyrs is filled with the stories of Christians who suffered for their faith. The promise is that God walks with us and sustains us and prepares eternal life for us. We obey because Love will win and we want to be on the side of the Author and Creator of Love.
Chapter 28 tells the story of Hananiah, a false prophet. Everyone who says Lord, Lord will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those are the words of Jesus. Everyone who claims to have a word from the Lord is not speaking the truth. There have been many who claimed to have a word from God, but in fact were building their own empire. Some are alive and well in the world today and are leading others in a way that will not lead to heaven. Measure the words of the prophet and the priest (and the preacher) against the truths that you find in scripture. Does it measure up? Chose wisely who you will follow; eternity may be hanging in the balance.
Chapter 29 is one of the most quoted books in the Bible at graduation time. It is a letter to those who have already been carried into exile. Work hard, honor the king, seek God, do not listen to lies. All good advice then and now. Here is the really good part: do these things and in just the right time, "I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise bring you back t this place. For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you."
Today I spent a few minutes with our good friend Olline Young. She is near the end of life here in this place where we have been exiled (from the garden). She has done all those things (work, honor, seek) and she is about to reap the fruit of the promise. God is about to bring her home. What a marvelous God we serve. We need to seek him diligently while he can be found. We need to honor him with our lives that he will not remember our sins and will one day bring us home as well.