Now the Preacher, how I’ll refer to the writer of Hebrews, takes our focus off the majesty of Jesus to give us a warning about own lives. Maybe you can recall a time in your life when you felt far from Jesus? The evil one lures us to drift away from God. Being reminded of that is so helpful.
We experience daily attacks from the evil one attempting to take control of our lives and make us forget about God. The Preacher gives us two paths to take to keep ourselves on track. We need to “listen for God” and “look for God” every day.
The LORD says, “For Babylon’s day of reckoning has come.” What does that even mean? According to a definition by Merriam Webster, it’s “a time when the consequences of a course of mistakes or misdeeds are felt.” Babylon had done so much harm to God’s people, it was now time to experience the consequences. They would soon see that you don’t mess around with God’s people.
The news in Jerusalem from those who have escaped is that “the LORD our God has taken vengeance against those who destroyed his Temple.” Do you think the people of Babylon realized they had been used as a “puppet” by God to bring about the destruction they did? They certainly didn’t realize that those actions would lead to their own demise, did they?
There’s a lot happening in this chapter. First, we have a king asking for prayer. Then, Egypt approaches with the apparent intention of helping Judah, and the Babylonians leave. Then Jeremiah loses his freedom to walk about when he is wrongly accused and put in a dungeon before being upgraded to prison in the royal palace.
We’re given a bit of a time stamp to this story as well. We’ve got a big jump in time from our last reading (remember this book is not chronological). Jeremiah is in the middle of the siege. God’s prophecies were coming true in real time for Jeremiah. Many people had already been taken into exile and there is only a small number remaining. “But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.” Where have all the faithful people gone? Are they all in Babylon already? Jeremiah is on his own.
Jeremiah gives us another upbeat message in this reading. What poignant and memorable words of hope in Israel’s darkest hour! Even though we’re not the original hearers of these words from God, we can still glean joy in the promised restoration. What were some of your favorite images of the restoration? I liked “With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself,” and “I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.”
This same God of hope loves us and looks out for us, too. We have been included into his family by the blood of Jesus. With that truth in mind, reread this passage and find the hope God intends for you to cling to today. We are all walking through some challenge that is zapping our energy, and likely our joy. I don’t know what your struggle is, nor you mine, but that’s okay. We serve the same loving God that is walking right beside each of us.
What is the secret? Paul says this about it, “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” If I was hearing this for the first time, my first question would be, “How does it work to have Christ inside me?”
If that’s your question, too, Paul doesn’t get into those details here. But in 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul’s counsel in another setting speaks to the Holy Spirit, a person of the trinity with Jesus. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” Take a moment to reflect on what shape your temple is in to host God himself!