Saturday, November 05, 2005

God Remembers Jeremiah: Jeremiah 15

Jeremiah 15

Sometimes the call is difficult. Sometimes faithfully following the path God has laid out in our lives asks things of us that are a stretch, and sometimes they require everything we are and everything we have. Sometimes even just trying to be a Christian in our world is hard. I know we feel that strain from time to time in our lives today, but we can draw strength from the stories of God’s people and learn from them how to relate to the world around us and to God all at the same time.

As chapter 15 opens, God tells Jeremiah that despite his intercession Judah was slated for judgment. In fact, even if two of the better-known intercessors in the OT, Moses and Samuel, were to stand in the gap at this point, it would avail nothing. Our hero must be feeling a little useless.

Then, as we reach the halfway mark of the chapter, we enter another of Jeremiah’s complaints and if we are honest with the text, and ourselves, it is not difficult to hear a certain degree of self-pity and frustration. Jeremiah, like Job before him, laments the day of his birth. He feels as if his life has been nothing but a pain to everyone around him since the day he was born. But God feels differently. He reminds the prophet that he knew what he was doing when he gave him life. In fact, God had noted this very fact when he called him. Chapter 1:5 states:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;…

But Jeremiah has more to say, and taking note of the logic in his next argument is crucial. He says in verse 15:

O LORD, you know;
remember me and visit me,
and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.

“Remembering” in the OT is a powerful tool. When it is used, it means more than just simple recollection. It is intended to request a return to a previous state of affairs: it is a plea for action. In using this device, Jeremiah wields a powerful notion. He is asking God to return to a time in their relationship when Jeremiah felt God’s protection and life overall seemed a little easier for the prophet. Our hero is struggling.

Next, Jeremiah notes that he gladly and faithfully took in God’s word, and by virtue of that, his life has been a struggle.

Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,…
I did not sit in the company of revelers,
nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone, because your hand was upon me,
for you had filled me with indignation.

In other words, Jeremiah is telling God that his word has built in him a love for God and godly things and a hatred for sin and evil. The catch is that all Jeremiah was seeing was sin and evil, and therefore he was indignant all the time. Our hero is tired.

So how does the God who led him to this life respond? After a mild rebuke asking Jeremiah to turn back to him, God encourages the prophet in a profound way. In verses 20 and 21, God repeats almost word-for-word what he told Jeremiah when he called him in 1:18-19. God returned to that spiritual mountaintop in Jeremiah’s life-he remembered Jeremiah.

God remembers you. God is willing and able to restore a relationship of blessed union and grace in your life and mine. It will probably not mean an end to the difficulties of this life, but what are they in light of the glories that are to be revealed in us? (Rom 8:18)

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