Friday, August 18, 2017
Men of the Bible - Jeremiah
His name may mean: "Yahweh Has Exalted" or "Yahweh Has Established"
His work: Though Jeremiah's prophecies were primarily directed toward Judah, the Lord also gave him prophetic messages for other nations of the world. His ministry took place during the last forty years of Judah's existence, from 627-586 BC.
His character: Jeremiah has often been called "the weeping prophet." He struggled with feelings of insecurity, doubt, and alienation. Because of the constant opposition he faced, he became so depressed that he cursed the day of his birth. Despite the cost to himself, he spoke the word of the Lord with uncompromising honesty.
His sorrow: Though the date and place of Jeremiah's death are uncertain, Jewish tradition holds that he was stoned to death by fellow Jews while living in Egypt after the destruction of Jerusalem. Despite their misfortunes, those who had taken refuge in Egypt remained unrepentant, blaming their troubles not on their idolatry, but on their failure to worship Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven.
His triumph: It is hard to find evidence in the book of Jeremiah that the prophet enjoyed any sense of personal triumph throughout the course of his ministry. Though he may have felt vindicated when his prophecies about Jerusalem came true, such feelings would have been small comfort in light of the suffering that had befallen his people.
Key Scriptures: Jeremiah 1; 20; 36; 37:16-21; 39:1-14
A Look at the Man
Jeremiah is often considered a prophet of doom, a man who warned God's people of the grievous consequences of their sin. Yet it would not have been possible for him to thunder on about impending judgment if he had despaired of the possibility that Judah might actually repent and be saved. Surely it was hope that kept him going.
This hope was made tangible during Babylon's sustained siege of Jerusalem. One day Jeremiah heard the Lord telling him that one of his cousins would soon ask him to buy a field belonging to him. But why, he must have wondered, should he waste precious silver purchasing property that was about to be overrun by a foreign invader? Before he had time to puzzle out the answer, he saw his cousin approaching. Sure enough, the man was selling his field and wanted Jeremiah to buy it. So Jeremiah did.
As the prophet tried to make sense of this impractical business transaction, God spoke again, telling him, "I will surely gather [my people] from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them" (Jeremiah 32:37-40).
Jeremiah's hope was based on the knowledge that nothing is ever too hard for God, not even restoring the fortunes of a people whose future seemed utterly wrecked. So, like a good contrarian investor, he ignored the conventional wisdom and bought the field. His purchase proved valuable, for the Lord eventually brought many of his people back to Jerusalem, a people chastened, purified, and eager to live once again in the land of the promise.
Reflect On: Jeremiah 20:7–18
Praise God: For his relentless love.
Offer Thanks: That he will never fail or forsake us.
Confess: Any tendency to try to hide your thoughts or feelings from God.
Ask God: To help you develop a deep and honest relationship with him.
Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media. Coming this fall: watch for Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler.