Friday, September 06, 2013

Jeremiah

The life of Jeremiah is really amazing to me.  He is a study in faithful endurance.  His ministry continues over 40 years, about half of which he is in prison.  And best, that I can tell, no one listened to him except Baruch who penned it for him, and ministered to him at times.  There are a few times he cries out to the Lord in frustration, but to a parent who says "I'm sick of no body around here listening to me" more often than I care to admit - he's especially amazing.  Jeremiah is one of the more emotional of the prophets from what I've read so far.  He is truly moved to tears by the knowledge of what is coming, and his grief at the people's lack of repentance, lack even of the knowledge of their need to repent.

Time and time again Jeremiah tells them that judgement is coming, and yet the Lord is NOT out to "get 'em."  He cares for them.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.  ...and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:3-4)
... I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.  For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.  And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:5-7)
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3)
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.  (Lamentations 3:21-26)
 There are also a number of really beautiful prayers and promises of how the Lord could never forget us, that we are secure in Him.
Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:36-37)
Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;  Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.  As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. (Jeremiah 33:20-22)
Because of these two things - the Lord's great care of us, and His promise that we are secure, we should study, we should follow him, we should be in such a place that the troubles and trials in this life should affect us very little because we trust Him.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
There are several other little gems. "...I will bring you to Zion:  And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jeremiah 3:14-15)  Isn't it really a beautiful thing when a man of God has been studying all week, asking God what it is that his flock needs to hear and the Lord blesses him on Sunday morning with just the right message.  Men according to His heart.  Pastors with a heart of God.  They don't force feed the flock, they don't over feed the flock, they don't starve the flock.  They feed with knowledge and understanding.  Reminds me too of the verse back in Isaiah 40:11 "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:  he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."  Bro. Mike Montgomery used this verse back at Little Union's July Meeting mentioning how God is a great shepherd and that the men he places as under-shepherds are to lead in the same way.  What a blessing to the Church are such men.  What a blessing they are not only to their home Church, but to have that pastor's heart when among his people this land over.  There are several good men that have not been the pastor of my particular home Church, but who have been like a pastor in their care and guidance, in the spirit they display.  Jeremiah also gives warning to pastors in 10:21 and 23:1.

Jeremiah is also the first to tell the people to bloom where you are planted.  The Lord makes it very clear that they will not be in captivity for a short time, but for 70 long years...
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;  Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;  Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
The message was clear to them, and it is likewise to us.  Where ever we find ourselves here on earth.  It is temporary.  This is not our home.  We should make the most of the opportunities we are given where ever we are given them.  Our lifespan is roughly 70, and while we aren't to be too attached to this world, we should do our best with where we are at.  The people could have sat around waiting to go home, not investing any time or anything in Babylon, after all it wasn't home, and they would be leaving it.  But that wasn't the attitude that God told them to have.  Gary and I could just tap our foot, keeping time, until we could jumps ship and move back South.  But rather we should do what we can to improve the place we stay, make the most of opportunities to come our way, and live like this is where we will be for the long haul.  It may not be, who knows, but we should do our best by it.  This is not our home, heaven is, and yet while we are here we are to invest in those people we come in contact with, do our best to improve our communities, and leave our Churches in the best possible place for those that would come after us.

And finally I found one very peculiar story related.  In Jeremiah 32, God gives Jeremiah word while he is in prison in Jerusalem, that there is a field that it is his right to buy in the process of redeeming back land, and God tells him that he wants him to redeem it.  Sure enough Jeremiah's cousin comes and tells him, about it.  Jeremiah buys it back, takes care of all the legal paperwork, and gets it filed away.  He begins to second guess himself and prays a beautiful prayer to God.  (You should go and read it if you have the time.)  In it he ascribes all power and glory to God, reminds himself of all that God has done and is able to do, and then asks the Lord if he did the right thing.  It is important to remind ourselves of all that He has done before we ask Him if He can or will do something.  The really interesting thing to me is that when Jeremiah redeems this land, not only is he in prison but the Babylonians control all those fields outside of Jerusalem, they are under siege in the city.  Additionally back in Jeremiah 16:2, he is told not to marry or have children.  After the city falls, he spends a very short amount of time with those who are left behind, before they determine to go to Egypt, and force Jeremiah to come along with him.  That is the last we hear of him.  I find it interesting that the Lord tells him to redeem a field that he will never see or get to possess, and he has no descendants that will be able to inherit it.

There is something about it nagging at the back of my mind telling me there is an important lesson here, but I'm not sure what it is.  I've been thinking on this for almost 2 weeks now, and there are only two things that come out to me.  First, we don't always understand what the Lord asks of us, we don't know why, we don't see the point or the purpose, but that shouldn't stop us from doing it.  I'm sure that Abraham was a little confused about why God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac, but he knew that very child was his promise, and didn't doubt the power of God, so he did what was asked.  Second, not everything we do will benefit us or our children, but they will be of benefit to someone, so we should seek to do our very best in every endeavor that we under take, because it will affect others for good or for bad.

Additionally there are so many things from it that are quoted and referenced in the New Testament.  So many things that our ministers often remind us from the pulpit contained in this book.  Just reading it brought alot of old messages back to mind.  It really has probably been the best read for me so far this year.

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