Jeremiah gives us a great example of prayer. He is still puzzling over his purchase of land from our last reading. And yet, instead of coming right out and asking God why, he includes the situation in his tribute to God’s power.
Think of your last prayer to God. Did you give him praise and honor for all he has done? Did you specify the mighty works that have gotten your attention? That’s what we see Jeremiah doing. God loves our adoration. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
The reference to seventy years begins to lessen the tension of being doomed “forever.” Thankfully their judgment is not meant to be an absolute timeless void of time, but more like the “foreseeable” future. Seventy years is still a long time! This whisper of hope does not lessen the unpleasant judgment they will soon endure.
Jeremiah put into perspective for us how long he has been speaking the message of repentance. For twenty-three years he and others sent by God have been risking their lives, obediently listening and repeating the communication they have been given by God. I have a hard time accepting when people don’t listen to me the “first” time I make a request.
Here Elisha performs two more miracles on God’s behalf, this time to make things right for his prophets. Our setting is during a time of famine. I can’t say that I’ve lived through a famine because of the present-day grocery store. But I can imagine before we had such convenience, weather patterns and food shortages in a particular area would be devastating.
I’m not sure the gourds were “poisonous” or deadly, as some of the stew was consumed. It’s more likely that the wild gourds would lead to stomach upset and be bitter or foul tasting. The miracle may have simply been the wisdom God gave Elisha to know how to fix it with a little flour. Rather than have a pot of ruined stew, Elisha made it edible so they would not go hungry. (Remember the salt from Chapter 2?)