Did you recognize part of today’s reading from the New Testament? Rachel’s lament is quoted in Chapter 2 of Matthew’s gospel. In the New Testament, such wailing took place as King Herod killed all young boys who might be the promised king from on high. Such a horrible moment in history!
It’s a powerful connection, especially when we remember that Rachel was Israel’s (Jacob’s) wife, and her children would be part of the twelve tribes of Israel currently in exile. How fitting the matriarch would be weeping to see how her children had turned from the LORD and been punished. As parents, we always want the best for our children.
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.
There is hope! After all the destruction and upheaval there will be restoration. God gives Jeremiah these words to keep hope real despite the judgment being endured by the people. Seeing that “light at the end of the tunnel” keeps us focused on the future.
Can you think of a time in your life when you felt hopeless? Maybe you had just lost your job or were looking for a new home in a crazy real estate market. Maybe you were suffering from a medical condition that didn’t have a cure. In those dark times, it can be excruciating to think positively. Clinging to hope is all you can do!
In our last reading, Jeremiah had sent God’s message to the captives in Babylon to beware of false prophets. Apparently, Jeremiah’s message ruffled some feathers with rival prophets. It would appear Shemaiah is instigating the drama in this reading to take down Jeremiah and get him out of the way.
We know from being on this side of history that Jeremiah was a true prophet speaking the word of God. Others calling themselves prophets in that day were not. God’s doom for them has already been set. Did Shemaiah think he would fool the priest, Zephaniah with these words? “So why have you done nothing to stop Jeremiah from Anathoth, who pretends to be a prophet among you?”
We get a glimpse of God’s plan for the exiles in this letter. This reminds us how closely involved Jeremiah was to the events happening in this moment in history. He wasn’t one of those exiled to Babylon. He was in Jerusalem, presumably expecting (and fearing) all the atrocities he was preaching about. How would that make you feel?
Knowing he was giving the people in exile some hope and direction with this communication had to be fulfilling. It’s exhilarating anytime we’re used by God! When is the last time you were used by God for some purpose?