The Suffering Prophet

Today's Bible reading: Jeremiah 8:18-9:11

To those who think they can sin at will and still feel secure in God's holy temple, Jeremiah promises that God will destroy the temple as He once destroyed the sanctuary at Shiloh.  To Hananiah - who promises that God will break the yoke of Babylon - Jeremiah promises that God will replace the wooden bars of imprisonment with bars of iron – (which obviously didn't earn him a lot of friends among the people.)  Jeremiah remains completely faithful in proclaiming his prophecies of doom, despite the trouble this brings him.

And at this point I'd like to share with you a little bit more specifically about the prophet Jeremiah.  In one sense, his life story is a mirror of Judah’s own suffering that must come because of God's punishment on sin.  God's call finds him reluctant … full of excuses … but God touches his lips and gives him a message which will mean the end of a nation – but also it's a hope for a new future.

Jeremiah complains bitterly to God over the suffering his ministry brings him.  Like Job, he even curses the day he was born.  He must remain a bachelor is a sign of Judah’s future loss of children.  He is thrown into prison … is accused of treason … and cast into a pit of mud at the bottom of a well.  Finally, those left behind after Jerusalem's fall rebel against the Babylonian governor … and Jeremiah is forced to accompany the fleeing rebels to Egypt.  Tradition has it that he was martyred in Egypt.

Not surprisingly, Jeremiah has been seen as a type of Christone who in his own person suffers for the guilt of the people.  But the parallel, of course, is not complete. Jesus removes the guilt of the people … all people – including yours and mine – through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave for usJesus removes that guilt … whereas Jeremiah must remain merely a sign of punishment.  Yet he is also a sign of hope.

Prayer: Teach us, O Lord, to rely on You alone for our salvation, and teach us everyday to live our faith in thought, word and deed, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.