Jeremiah didn’t have an easy time as a prophet. But he followed God’s call anyway. I haven’t stopped thinking about his verse from my last post, Jeremiah 6:16.
“Thus says the Lord:
Stand by the earliest roads,
ask the pathways of old,
“Which is the pathways to good” and walk it;
Thus you will find rest for yourselves.
But they said, “We will not walk it.”
[Jeremiah 6:16 NABRE]
In my post, Pathway to Good, I was struck how God gives us the choice to choose Him and to follow Him. He accepts our choices. He is patient as He waits for us to learn enough to take the next step forward. Then we decide what pathway we will take.
Back to Jeremiah, I have been finding encouragement in Jeremiah’s words over the last couple of years. But! It has been decades since I have read the book of Jeremiah. Since verse 6:16 touched my soul, I was compelled to find out about the context of the scripture. Here is where I started. I read chapter 6 and followed all the references and notes for verse 16. Then I read the introduction to the book for the scholar’s interpretation.
Jeremiah was born about 650 B.C. In Chapter 1 he is called by God as a prophet during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” [Jeremiah 1:5] Note: It says here “nations.” Not just Israel. God is including all the nations in Jeremiah’s prophetic work.
In chapter 1 verse 6 Jeremiah argues; ““Ah Lord God!” I said, “I know not how to speak; I am too young.”” [NABRE]
I have asked God where he is going with me because I feel I am too old. I have not received a declaration or a call like Jeremiah. I respect those that do feel a calling on their lives. My path requires me to be a seeker for God’s way. Despite that I see a similarity between Jeremiah and me. We doubt ourselves and lack trust in God.
Jeremiah lived in a culture that respected the elders. I live in a culture that respects the young. Jeremiah and I have something in common. The scholars estimate he was less than thirty years old. I am over fifty. We think the people will discount us. I feel thrown away. Jeremiah feels inadequate. We both think we can’t do what God wants. We think we will fail.
God responds in Jeremiah 1:7-10 “7But the Lord answered me, “Say not, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. 9Then the Lord extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See I place my words in your mouth! 10This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, To root up and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and to plant.”
King Josiah supported Jeremiah as a prophet. Jeremiah supported King Josiah’s attempts to bring Israel closer to God. King Josiah was killed in battle in 609. King Jehoiakim did not support God’s ways and Israel returned to idolatry. Jeremiah spoke against Israel’s sin during this time. Because of this sin, God allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed in 587. It is believed Jeremiah lived in the ruins of Jerusalem until he too was forced into exile. While in exile the scholars believe he was killed by his own people.
in the New American Bible Revised Edition [NABRE], the prophecies in chapters 1-6 are called the “Oracles in the Days of Josiah”. I looked up the definition of oracle: A priest, through whom advice or prophecy was sought, or a response or message given by an oracle. Jeremiah 1:1 states: “the words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, of a priestly family, in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin” [NABRE]. I noted, Jeremiah was from a family of priests and called by God to be a prophet.
Looking at Jeremiah’s life and prophecies from a worldly point of view, one would think that he failed. Israel did not pay heed to the prophecies. They did not return to God. And it appears some of his own people murdered him in exile. But! God lives on. God’s words through Jeremiah are still with us thousands of years later. The Words are still relevant.
Embedded in all the warnings is guidance and promises from God. These are the pieces that have comforted me during the hard decisions I am making this year. In Jeremiah 6:16 I found the guidance to follow the pathway to good.
I looked up the name Jeremiah at www.babynames.com. Jeremiah (Hebrew origin) means “God Will Uplift.” This brings tears to my eyes. While Jeremiah’s prophecies are warnings, there are promises buried in them. God uses Jeremiah to lay out the actions we can take to avoid our own destruction. In this verse the action is to seek the pathway to Good and walk it. Again the decision is ours to make.
Sadly the people did not listen to Jeremiah’s prophecy and years later after many warnings and chances to stop the prophesied destruction, Jerusalem fell into the enemy’s hands. [Note: In the NABRE chapter 6 is titled: “The Enemy at the Gates.”]
Then God uses Jeremiah to uplift the seekers with God’s promise: “Thus you will find rest for yourselves.” Thousands of years after Jeremiah and Jesus proclaimed it (See Matthew 11:28-30). This is the promise I need today.
It is amazing how constant God remains. While life swirls around us today, have faith in the constant presence of our High Power, walk the way to good and find rest. Peace,
P.S: Interestingly enough the Words of God have survived for millennials and is relevant now for a generation called the “Millennials.” I’m not sure what that thought means yet but, I find the constant nature of God comforting.
Disclaimer: These are my thoughts and prayers as I walk closer to God and read His Words. I am not a theologian or even a scholar in theology or religion. I am a mere working mom seeking my path.