No sooner did God take care of the two conspiracies than Jeremiah found himself struggling with a theological crisis. Jeremiah couldn’t understand why a holy God would permit the false prophets and the unfaithful priests to prosper in their ministries while he, a faithful servant of God, was treated like a sacrificial lamb. So, Jeremiah has this discussion with God…
Admit it, we all want to know, don’t we?
Jeremiah 12, The Message
What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?
12 1-4 You are right, O God, and you set things right.
I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?
Why do con artists make it big?
You planted them and they put down roots.
They flourished and produced fruit.
They talk as if they’re old friends with you,
but they couldn’t care less about you.
Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
You don’t let me get by with a thing!
Make them pay for the way they live,
pay with their lives, like sheep marked for slaughter.
How long do we have to put up with this—
the country depressed, the farms in ruin—
And all because of wickedness, these wicked lives?
Even animals and birds are dying off
Because they’ll have nothing to do with God
and think God has nothing to do with them.
* * *
5-6 “So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose
like the Jordan in flood?
Those closest to you, your own brothers and cousins,
are working against you.
They’re out to get you. They’ll stop at nothing.
Don’t trust them, especially when they’re smiling.
* * *
7-11 “I will abandon the House of Israel,
walk away from my beloved people.
I will turn over those I most love
to those who are her enemies.
She’s been, this one I held dear,
like a snarling lion in the jungle,
Growling and baring her teeth at me—
and I can’t take it anymore.
Has this one I hold dear become a preening peacock?
But isn’t she under attack by vultures?
Then invite all the hungry animals at large,
invite them in for a free meal!
Foreign, scavenging shepherds
will loot and trample my fields,
Turn my beautiful, well-cared-for fields
into vacant lots of tin cans and thistles.
They leave them littered with junk—
a ruined land, a land in lament.
The whole countryside is a wasteland,
and no one will really care.
* * *
12-13 “The barbarians will invade,
swarm over hills and plains.
The judgment sword of God will take its toll
from one end of the land to the other.
Nothing living will be safe.
They will plant wheat and reap weeds.
Nothing they do will work out.
They will look at their meager crops and wring their hands.
All this the result of God’s fierce anger!”
* * *
14-17 God’s Message: “Regarding all the bad neighbors who abused the land I gave to Israel as their inheritance: I’m going to pluck them out of their lands, and then pluck Judah out from among them. Once I’ve pulled the bad neighbors out, I will relent and take them tenderly to my heart and put them back where they belong, put each of them back in their home country, on their family farms. Then if they will get serious about living my way and pray to me as well as they taught my people to pray to that god Baal, everything will go well for them. But if they won’t listen, then I’ll pull them out of their land by the roots and cart them off to the dump. Total destruction!” God’s Decree.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Jeremiah was concerned for the welfare of his people. He saw the land distressed because of the sins of the leaders, with many innocent people suffering. God had sent drought to the nation, which was one of the covenant disciplines (See Deuteronomy 28:15–24), and the vegetation was withering and the animal life dying. But the evil leaders who were to blame for the drought were not only surviving but also were prospering from the losses of others.
In devasting times, the fall of stocks and bonds, the rich get richer it seems while the poor poorer. The rich driven by self-made power and evil manipulation take advantage of a down turn market to reap great benefits. Does that make all wise investors evil? It depends on where their hearts are and to whom they give glory for their gain along with how they help others. Did they seek God first? This is the larger question of heart to consider.
“You will always have the poor among you,”says Jesus, “but you will not always have Me.” (Matthew 26:11) So, does that mean the poor will always be poor? No, again, Jesus is wanting us to look inside our hearts for what is His best response should be from us who say we believe. “Seek God first,” Jesus tells his disciples often, “ask for God’s help and wisdom.” We can get all caught up in what the world needs with grand social actions and forget God.
We think we should and could solve all problems if we worked hard enough. Some of us have a need to be needed that is so strong we forget God is the answer, not us. “Seek God first,” Jesus says often, “and his righteousness…”. In other words, seek first what God wants and what He says is right for each case in point! Another translation of Matthew 6:33 states: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Let God sort it all out. He knows what He is doing. God will tell us exactly what to do when as the best help of all. To God then, be the glory!
Back to Jeremiah… God’s reply to Jeremiah, wasn’t what he expected. God’s focus was not on the wicked; it was on His servant Jeremiah. As most of us do when we’re suffering, Jeremiah was asking, “How can I get out of this?” But he should have been asking, “What can I get out of this?” “What can I learn from this?” God’s servants don’t live by explanations; they live by promises. Understanding explanations may satisfy our curiosity and make us smarter people, but laying hold of God’s promises will build our character and make us better servants.
Growth only happens with challenge, and challenge always brings change. As we get older, many of us resist change, forgetting that without the challenge of change, we’re in danger of deteriorating physically, mentally, and spiritually. God wanted Jeremiah to grow, and He also wants us to grow.
Sometimes I, too am overwhelmed with what is going on around me in the world. I would rather be overwhelmed by your love, mercy and grace—and I am. You are amazing as you teach us how to grow in your love and in your ways. You help us and give us “signposts” all along the way. So, I seek You first for that is the right way to go. You taught me that many times. I believe. I trust in you, dear Jesus.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen
I’m now singing an old hymn of praise…Let Him Have His Way with Thee
Would you live for Jesus, and be always pure and good?
Would you walk with Him within the narrow road?
Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?
Let Him have His way with thee.
His pow’r can make you what you ought to be;
His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;
His love can fill your soul, and you will see
’Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.