Lamentations 3-5 B

“I have become a laughingstock to all my people, their mocking song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. My soul has been rejected from peace; and I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD’.” (3:18)

We love to flash a light onto 3:22-23 and drown out the sorrow found in these surrounding verses, but this sorrow is real. Jeremiah has forgotten happiness! This is not what being a servant of the LORD is supposed to be like! This is a true dark night of the soul. Rightly so, as we uncover more details surrounding the situation.

“The iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom.” (4:6)

“The hands of the compassionate woman boiled their own children; they became food for them because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (4:10)

Over and over, the LORD cries out that Israel and Judah surpassed the evil of the Canaanites they originally displaced. He has mercy, but they haven’t done a shred of a thing to reach for it. Finally, at the end they make a plea, which closes out the book, leaving us to wonder how the LORD responded.

“Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old, unless You have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us.” (5:21-22)

That sad unless implies–to me–a distant, I will understand if you decide to forsake us.

Most thankfully, and gloriously, the LORD does not reject forever. In fact, He continues to draw His people to Himself, opening His arms to also sweep in people from other nations. I, by nature, like to brush past pain in order to find a silver lining or any semblance of relief. I’ve tried to allow myself the opportunity to lament with Jeremiah about the brokenness in the world. I feel it goes hand in hand with a subsequent humility of, we get it if you don’t restore us. The LORD owes us nothing.

What is your posture before the LORD when things get tough? How readily do you take responsibility for messes you’re in? Do you call His Goodness into question whenever the going gets rough? Why or why not?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 51-52 B

As Judah makes the final turn in their downward spiral, the LORD concludes with a promise for vengeance.

“Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers! The LORD has aroused the spirit of the kings of the Medes, Because His purpose is against Babylon to destroy it; For it is the vengeance of the LORD, vengeance for His temple.” (51:11‬)

Because Babylon shares Canaan’s rampant idolatry problem, it seems wrong they should be the ones who defeat Judah. The LORD lines out that it’s all part of the plan. Babylon will face its own consequences soon enough.

I get weirdly giddy about the Medes and Persians; Darius, Cyrus and Xerxes. I’m fascinated by the LORD’s relationship with them, how He uses them, and brings them to know Him at different times and in different ways. I love that these people are so impacted by the influence of His people during their exile that it prompts a visit of Magi at exactly the time deduced by their priests that the Jewish Messiah would come.

Right when Babylon has hauled its last group into exile– exactly when the “bad guys” seems to be defeating our “good guys” –the LORD unveils a grander mosaic of His purposes flawlessly finding their fulfillment.

Still, while we know the LORD is never out of control, we are allotted a moment to lament. Which is where we will meet up tomorrow.

The beautiful Jerusalem has fallen along with the temple, a golden age of monarchy and independence. It will be quite some time before Israel returns, finds independence or their Davidic king. That’s sad. It’s sad that they so royally missed their chance to bless the nations.

But this isn’t over.

Bethany

Jeremiah 47-48 B

“On account of the day that is coming To destroy all the Philistines, To cut off from Tyre and Sidon Every ally that is left; For the LORD is going to destroy the Philistines, The remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.” (47:4‬)

Wikipedia states that the Philistines were defeated, taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, and never recovered. The LORD completed the task He employed His people to accomplish 800-ish years prior.

Sometimes we tell ourselves, and each other, that if we don’t “do the LORD’s work”, it will never happen. We need to rally because He’s depending on us.

No way.

He doesn’t rely on us for anything. He is patient, and invites us to be involved, but He isn’t about to let our bumbling inability to act slow Him down forever. All His plans will come to pass.

His judgment against Moab is different. He will destroy the “People of Chemosh”, but will one day restore their fortune.

“Woe to you, Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished; For your sons have been taken away captive And your daughters into captivity. Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab In the latter days,” declares the LORD. Thus far the judgment on Moab.” (48:46-47‬)

“And Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.” (48:13‬)

To refresh, Chemosh is Moab’s god, and Bethel is where Jeroboam set up a golden calf for Israel to worship instead of having them go to the temple in Jerusalem. So much of this is rooted in our inability to see Who God is, and foolishly chasing after false power, to our shame.

Everything will come to light, in time.

If you’re impatient for His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, JOIN HIM. Pray this prayer as Jesus taught us. Press on to Know Him. Discover the attributes of His Kingdom and ask Him how you can be a part of bringing it to earth, living it on earth. Jesus did say the Kingdom was at hand.

He will do it. Will you be with Him?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 41-43 B

We do three chapters today, because it forms a complete narrative. You can’t end on that 42 cliffhanger, although it would have been easy to guess that these people who just asked for advice would quickly toss it aside.

To summarize:

People of Judah: What should we do? We will do anything you say!

Jeremiah: the LORD will be with you if you stay here and HE will keep you safe. Whatever you do, don’t go to Egypt. EGYPT=DEATH.

People of Judah: Oh what!? No way! We are definitely going to Egypt.

So, spoiler alert, they go to Egypt and die. It’s like, why did they even ask? Just to check and see if they might coincidentally be planning to do as the LORD wants?

There’s definitely been times in my life I’ve had a question I didn’t really want to ask the LORD. It’s easier for my conscience to wonder into a grey area without checking than to ask when my mind is already made up.

Have you ever done that? Are you doing it now? When’s a time when you asked the LORD for His word and then really didn’t want to obey it? What fears or mistrust led you in our out of that situation?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 37-38 B

King Zedekiah and the other officials keep waiting for Jeremiah to change his story. What makes them think that imprisoning him or mistreating him will change the Word of the LORD? If it merely changes his dedication to delivering it, it still doesn’t change the actual truth of the matter.

The same is true today. We can twist the truth to suit out fancies, but it will find us in the end. The truth has a way of coming to light.

Still, we like to distract ourselves with easy-to-disgust lies and half truths. Zedekiah was outraged Jeremiah wouldn’t give him better news. He wanted to hear that his stellar leadership and kingliness would win out in the end. No such luck.

Salvation via surrender is not what the prideful want to hear, but it’s still the way we draw closer to the LORD.

Unrelated… I like how it’s an Ethiopian eunuch that saves Jeremiah from the muddy cistern. I really love it anytime a Gentile wanders in and does the right thing in the middle of Israel’s inability to do remotely so. It also piques my interest to note there’s more than one Ethiopian eunuch mentioned in the Bible (see also Acts 8:25-39).

What does your surrender look like today?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 33-34 B

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.’” (33:6-9‬)

The restoration of the LORD is thorough. It’s prophesied to be so thorough that it will invoke fear and trembling in those refined. They will be so healed and filled with peace, goodness, praises and joy, that they with tremble with fear. Interesting.

The LORD set out to accomplish incredible things in this world and they were to bless us. Why would an all powerful, almighty God spend His efforts on our healing? He truly is love.

The world is broken and He is the healer and restorer. He doesn’t save us to make us safe, He makes us whole, He rights the wrongs, and here we see that He’s promising to do this to the nation of Israel, as they are getting carted off into exile.

That’s why He’s angry with them when they re-enslave their fellow man after formally setting them free. He said,

“I made a covenant with your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying, ‘At the end of seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall send him out free from you; but your forefathers did not obey Me or incline their ear to Me’.” (34:13-14‬)

All brokenness, like slavery, came with an expiration date. In perfect time (7 years) all would be set right. Their refusal to cooperate with this, sent desperate times into desperate measures. The exile would be for their refining, but it too had an expiration: 70 years.

How has the LORD brought healing and restoration into your life? Where have you witnessed His refining fire for your purification? How do you think His powerful work of healing affects fear of Him?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 29-30 B

“For thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your brothers who did not go with you into exile— thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am sending upon them the sword, famine and pestilence, and I will make them like split-open figs that cannot be eaten due to rottenness.” (29:16-17‬)

A little nod to the prophecy in 24:5-10 about the two baskets of figs, the people left after the first deportation were still fooling themselves that they had escaped the discipline of the LORD.

The first deportation had, indeed, happened. All the nobles and artisans of the land had left. Daniel and his friends were already in the service of Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord had specified that those who were faithful to him would be sent into exile and those left in the land would suffer from plague, sword, and famine.

But of course, those left in the land were telling themselves the worst had past, the articles from the temple would be returned soon, everything would go back to normal shortly. Jeremiah tells them “this isn’t over, it’s just beginning.” He tells the faithful in exile, “get comfortable”.

We are impatient people. We like to see things resolve quickly. In the case of the exile, even righteous men like Daniel would have to endure the full sentence of the crimes of his people. 70 years, and not a moment less.

Those concerned with the glory of the LORD returning to Israel need not worry about it happening, oh it would, just not in their lifetime. It’s not about them, after all, it’s about HIM.

I have to remind myself regularly to pray for the LORD’s will to be done in my life, keeping in mind that it’s only truly done in His way and time.

The LORD’s message to the faithful in exile was that He hadn’t abandoned them. He was purposing to give them a future (29:11). It just probably wasn’t the future they were imagining. Instead of retiring in their own land, they would be strangers in a foreign land. They were to be a blessing there.

When life leads you into unexpected places, how do you react? How can you chose to be a blessing in unfavorable circumstances?

-Bethany