Jeremiah began prophesying to Jerusalem and Judah in 622 bce, during the time of the reforms of King Josiah. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, destroyed Jerusalem in 586 bce, ending the southern kingdom of Judah—a tumultuous time. Today’s verses express God’s anger toward the Israelites for disrespecting the Lord, but they also illumine God’s sadness and pain brought on by their disobedience. Judah’s self-will and disrespect for God unraveled their protection and prosperity.
Obviously, when we know the right thing to do and refuse do it, we have only ourselves to blame for the ensuing difficulties. Consequently, we need to ask if we are conforming to God’s life-giving principles or disrespecting God as the nation of Judah did. If we listen, read, or watch the news, we can quickly find evidence that we are not paying attention very well. We too stand guilty of ignoring sound advice. Yet, whether we cause our own affliction or it comes from an outside source, God shows constant concern for humanity.
Jeremiah could easily tread our streets and deliver this same message. Humanity does little to recognize God, and we also ignore God’s concern for our pain and suffering. Shame on us. Yet, Jeremiah cries, “Come back to God!” And then weeps.
Why does Jeremiah weep? He weeps because he knows his fellow citizens possess a God-given choice between fullness and emptiness. While God is always present to comfort, we must desire the health and healing God offers.
God of healing, when we weep like Jeremiah, bring us your comfort as we live toward your final deliverance. Amen.
Three of the texts for this Sunday deal with intercession; although they certainly will not make praying any easier, they may make it more hopeful. The readings from both Jeremiah and the psalm depict the anguish of one who identi es with the pain of God’s faithless people. Prophet and psalmist grieve with and for the people and join in the persistent and impatient plea for health and renewal. But God turns out not to be an impassive or distant deity but one bound up with the anguish of the prophet and the anguish of the people. Likewise, the psalmist discovers that the God who refuses to tolerate Israel’s faithlessness nevertheless cannot nally abandon the chosen community. First Timothy also challenges readers to offer prayers of intercession and speci es that they be made for those in positions of political leadership.
• Read Jeremiah 8:18–9:1. Jeremiah weeps for the self-will and disrespect of his people toward God. What do you see in the contemporary world that causes you to weep?
• Read Psalm 4. How do you, like David, acknowledge God’s guidance in your life?
• Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7. Paul reminds us to pray for everyone, no matter their relation to us. How can you be more inten- tional in praying for others?
• Read Luke 16:1-13. In what ways can you take more per- sonal responsibility in being a steward for the things God bestows to humanity?
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