Hello friends! My gosh what a beautiful day yesterday with all that sun! What a tangible reminder of the glory of this Lenten season. The cold and darkness do not last, the warmth and days of light are on their way! (sorry to those that like the cold - you're just wrong. haha!) Today's reading in Jeremiah is more doom and gloom, as can be expected, but there is also an important lesson in historical context for this one. I'll share more on that below, but as a teaser, try to remember that this is written from the perspective of the "winners" of history, Israel while Judah are the "losers" of history. I think that will make God's wrath in what you are about to read a little less concerning. On that note, let's dive in.
Scripture to Read
Note that for some reason the video recording ends at verse 7 of the psalm. I have no idea why. I definitely recorded the whole thing haha. Sorry!
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about humanity?
What does this teach me about the role of the prophet?
- My Thoughts -
Something that I had learned recently is that it is best to read the prophecy as less a narrative transcript from God but more as a sermon. This is a really important distinction to make. I know there are plenty of pastors, primarily from the pentecostal/baptist tradition that will say things like "The Lord wanted me to tell you" or "the Lord put this message on my heart so strong." I'm not here to speak for others, but over my career I've probably preached around 200 sermons at this point and not a single one of them was "put on my heart by the Lord." Did I spend time in prayer when writing them? Yes. But my prayer led me to interpret the scripture based on what ails my congregations were experiencing or our nation was experiecing at the time. In other words, it's really vital to understand these narrative sections from God in any of these books are not God speaking, but Jeremiah's interpreation of what God would say to the people. The only definitive words we have of God speaking come from Jesus. This information might be wrong so take that with a grain of salt, but I find it much less brutal when read this way.
Secondly, this is another example of context being really helpful here. Jeremiah says that Judah will be crushed, and killed, and set on fire, and all this other awful language. It's important to remember that Judah (later Samaria) are the bitter enemies of Israel/Jerusalem after the split of the northern and southern kingdoms in 1-2 Samuel. Israel/Jerusalem were the ones to write the canonical Bible so it's natural that any language found about them is considered less than noble. It's important to look at all our information and consider what lens its being written from and whether or not that is truly authentic to the crowd in which it speaks. Will a liberal news media source speak fair of conservatives? No. Will a conservative media source speak fair of liberals? No. Will Dr. Suess speak fair of asian and black communities in those 6 "cancelled" books? No. if it is not fair, it should not be banned, but it should be acknowledged.
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 172 in our United Methodist Hymnal - My Jesus, I Love Thee. I invite you to meditate, hum, sing, and/or recite the words as you make them your own. I found this lovely acoustic "modern" version of the hymn that I think you will love.
1 My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; for thee all the follies of sin I resign; my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
2 I love thee because thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree; I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
3 I'll love thee in life, I will love thee in death, and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath, and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow: If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
4 In mansions of glory and endless delight, I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow: If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.