A Struggle

israelWhile reading through Jeremiah again, I’m struck at the brusque message the prophet shares time and time again.  I thought I was a slow learner, but it appears the Israelites were as well.  We turn our attention to chapters 26-30.

There comes a time when judgment cannot be stopped.  In other words, God has been gracious for a lengthy time, hoping His people would repent and be obedient.  Because they refuse, a righteous God has no other option than judgment.

Jeremiah speaks of judgment coming from Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  Any attempt to thwart judgment on the Israelite’s behalf would only lead to greater turmoil.  It’s intriguing that God would declare a time of judgment and only God could decide when that time was passed.  In chapter 28, readers are told of Hananiah and his false prophecy regarding peace.  Because he spoke lies, he died.  Irony?  Here’s a prophet who speaks of rebellion and judgment, only to rebel himself and die.

This is a great reminder of discernment.  People will always give advice.  Some of the advice is obviously better than other advice.  But how do you know what to follow?  If one doesn’t know the Word of God, hasn’t spent time in prayer, and is not seeking God with all that he/she is, they’re prone to follow bad advice!

In chapter 29, we run across a verse that many of us quote from time to time, yet we aren’t aware of the context.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope  (vs 11).  The context is the people have been removed from the Promised Land.  They’ve rebelled and are facing the consequences.  God says His punishment will last 70 years, at which time they will be able to return.  Perhaps we should remember that the next time we’re tempted to quote this verse.

Chapter 30 speaks of the judgment that seems unbearable.  The intentional rebellion (apostasy) is the reason the Israelites are being judged.  They cannot plead innocent or ignorant.  They know better!  Despite all of their choices, God continues to reach and rescue them.  His original choice of Israel being His people stands.  After all, Israel means “He who struggles with God.”  Seems right, doesn’t it?  Is that you – one who struggles with God?  Sadly, I see myself.

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