Jeremiah 14:11-16:15; 1 Thessalonians 2;9-3:13;
Psalm 80:1-19; Proverbs 25:1-5
When my children were little there was brook in a park near our home, where we would go on sunny afternoons. The kids would pretend and play in the water, while I read a book on the shore. Oh, what nice memories! Sometimes in the Spring,we would have to be careful, because the creek would swell quickly with water if it had rained. This brook was unpredictable in the Sprain. Today, Jeremiah is complaining to God about his life situation. He's wishing that he had never been born. Have you ever been so discouraged and depressed that you wish that you were never born?
As our reading begins, God tells Jeremiah to stop praying for the people of Judah. He is fed up with them and their punishment is coming. The false prophets and prideful crowds will be punished with their own wickedness being poured out upon them.
Jeremiah is crying, again. His precious people are going to be destroyed. His heart is reflecting God's heart. Did you know that God's heart breaks when He has to discipline you? If you have children, you know how difficult training and discipline can be. It is exhausting and heartbreaking, especially if you have a really rebellious child. God has a really rebellious child in the nation of Israel. By the way, He has a really rebellious child in all of mankind, too.
Jeremiah questions whether God really hates Jerusalem and Judah so much as to allow this kind of suffering. Do you feel God hates you when He allows trials in your life? Jeremiah attempts to confess for the people. He pleads with God for forgiveness.
God responds in chapter 15 that even if Moses and Samuel were pleading for this group, He would not relent. Here is God's response in verse 2,
"Those who are destined for death, to death; those who are destined for war, to war; those who are destined for famine, to famine; those who are destined for captivity, to captivity."God describes that He will send four kinds of destroyers-the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the vultures to devour, and the wild animals to finish up what is left. Here, we get a taste of what judgment looks like. This is a motivator for humans to humble themselves and accept the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. God is serious about punishing sin. This is His raised, clenched fist.
Jeremiah is at his wits end. He is having to stand alone with these negative messages. He is sick of the sin of his people. He wishes he was never born and he is tired of the suffering. He accuses God of being unpredictable, as unpredictable as a Spring brook, but God responds to Jeremiah's complaints by encouraging Jeremiah to return to God so that God can restore him.
In chapter 16, Jeremiah is told by God that he should not marry or have children. This is because it is a terrible time in Jerusalem. Children born will die of disease, war, or famine. Jeremiah has more reasons to be the weeping prophet. His life is completely consumed by the people, the area, and the time in which he has been called to live. His life is being lived during a period of God's story that is filled with strife. Jeremiah is to stand apart from the crowd and not participate in their delusional feasts and parties.
God once again reminds Jeremiah that this rebellion will not last forever. God will restore the Jews back to the land in the distant future. One day, God's promises will be fulfilled and His chosen people will love and obey Him (vs. 15).
Does God seem whimsical to you? Do you feel He is unpredictable? He holds the future in His hands. Even when the trials come, God is in control.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13
We learn from this letter how Paul conducted his ministry. When he went into a community, he kept on working as a tent maker. It must have been quite challenging to work all day and then preach and teach all night. Paul sends Timothy back to Thessalonica after he has left the city to make sure that the church is still meeting and people are still being faithful to what they have been taught.
Timothy relays to Paul that they are still faithful and are even enduring suffering for the sake of Christ. Those who believe in Jesus are being persecuted by their own countrymen. Paul reminds them that this persecution follows a long tradition, with the prophets of God being killed by the Jews, and Jesus being killed by his own countrymen. Paul is also suffering.
Paul admonishes them to love one another and to let their love overflow. As their spiritual father, Paul pleads with them to live lives worthy of their calling.
Are you living your life like one called by God? Do you endure your trials with humility? Do you cultivate love?
"You have fed us with sorrow and made us drinks tears by the bucketfuls." Have you ever felt this way?
Removing the dross from silver makes it ready to be used by the King. Trials remove the dross. Is this happening in your life? Maybe God is preparing you to be used.
What are you learning?