Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Jeremiah 26-29
Hopping right in today…
Jeremiah 26:2-6 “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of YHWH’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of YHWH all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. You shall say to them, ‘Thus says YHWH: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.” Jeremiah 26:2-6
How would you feel if the Father had charged you with doing this? I know we always respond that we would follow Him no matter what, but in truth many believers say they would go so far as to give their life for him when, in practice, they aren’t even willing to be inconvenienced for Him.
Jeremiah calls us to examine our lives and ask ourselves, “What resides in our hearts that we love more than the Father?” Traditions, convenience, comfort, acclaim, respect of friends or colleagues? What do we hold so dear that it can keep us from following YHWH?
I can imagine how tempting it would be for Jeremiah to hold back, given the way the prophets and people respond when He spoke a word that didn’t tickle their ears. But this was down to crunch time. The Father is clearly aware of the temptation to soften the blow somewhat, and told Jeremiah straight out not to do that. The hammer is about to come down and the people are to be warned. As always, the Father has provided ample warning and instruction, whether or not they/we heed that warning is on them/us.
This passage brings to mind the blessings and the curses passage from Deuteronomy 11:26-28
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
Bonus wisdom: Take a moment today and read all of Deuteronomy 11 if you’d like to glean more fruit of the Father’s wisdom.
Notice how we get the curse: our own decisive actions.
Is it the Father’s desire to give us the curse? No. His desire is to give us the blessing.
We must choose, though, and according to the Word and in line with historical patterns of behavior, most will choose the curse. Of course, of those who choose the curse they will also choose to tell themselves that they have not done thusly. They will say that God loves them anyway, that He will surely forgive them, that He knows their hearts. There are a thousand ways to placate ourselves so that we can justify our behavior but the Father will see the clarity of it. We have chosen our wisdom over His – and that decision reaps eternal ramifications.
In this moment in Jeremiah 26, the priests, the prophets, and all the people chose the curse as we see demonstrated in Jeremiah 26:7-9 when they decided to kill Jeremiah because he refused to tickle their ears. Honestly, it is not a stretch for me to imagine this scene playing out today as well, should we have a prophet brave enough to not hold back with YHWH’s word.
When we read that scene in Jeremiah 26:7-9 and see the response of the people, we are witnessing the reaction of spiritual immaturity.
How would a person wholeheartedly seeking the Father respond?
How would a person who perhaps wasn’t wholeheartedly seeking the Father but still had a lick of sense respond?
In my opinion, both responses would be the same. Think about it and see if you agree. (My goal is not to get you to agree with me here. My goal is to get us thinking more from the Father’s perspective instead of our own.)
You know, this was a pivotal moment in their lives, a fork in the road. How many times have we come to a fork in the road and chosen the wrong path when the right one would have been just as easy, if not more so, to take?
I can look back over my life and see so many forks in the road. Some I chose rightly, some I did not, always, the Father showed me grace to bring me to another fork shortly down the line. Another opportunity to grow, to learn, to choose Him.
Some folks seem determined to choose the wrong way. Time and again, they veer opposite how the Father would have them go. And even after a lifetime of bad decisions, He still brings them to forks in the road time and again. Second chances. Third chances. Fiftieth chances. If only they will turn back, He will forgive.
Contrary to popular errant doctrine (the errant doctrine is always the most popular, isn’t it?), we will eventually come to a dead end. It will only be in hindsight that we are able to see when that last fork in the road presented itself and just how important that last decision was.
I believe civilization as a whole is at a fork in the road right now. The Father has placed it before us and the majority has already chosen the wide way, while He counted off His remnant one by one to lead on a narrow path, unlike any they had ever known before.
And this is where I want to encourage you. Keep walking that path.
Let every step be more surefooted than the last. Fix your gaze firmly on Him and don’t even blink. Take His strong hand and cling to it, He will cling to yours just as tightly. And when the storms come, when things get rough, when criticism and hard times and scoffing and disaster show up at your doorstep, take shelter beneath His wings and keep going, step – by – step.
You’re already on the path.
Make sure you stay there.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Towards the end of chapter 26 we see the people back up, recognize the grave error they were about to make, and see history about to repeat itself. They did not desire to meet the fate of those who committed this error before them. This is our hope in our culture today. Although we are assured that entire cultures will stubbornly continue in the way they are going now, more individuals will be awakened to the truth, have the shingles fall from their eyes, and choose to make a course correction. This will be, to them, a fork in the road – and they will choose to take the hand of Messiah.
Let us pray for all who are there today, for those who are to come and for those already on the path. Let us pray for strength, encouragement, boldness, and a community sent by YHWH to hold our arms up when we grow weary.
Chapter 29 details a letter to the exiles encouraging them, but likely not in the way that they would hope. The Father lets them know that they will be in Babylon a while and they are to make the best of it: to build homes and have children so that Israel will continue to grow and not lessen in numbers, to be a blessing to the land in as much as they can and to pray for the land they find themselves in. He assures them that this is an exile for a season and offers a great hope that many people like to quote snippets of today. Let us look at the passage in context.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. ~Jeremiah 29:10-14
He knows the plans He has for us, too, and His plans are always far better than our own. Perhaps you are standing at a fork. You’ve seen things in His word that don’t line up with what you were taught. You might be feeling convicted of things you hold dear that He would have you let go in order for Him to occupy that space. Perhaps you have experienced truth but it looks like you are going to have to step away from your norm and look weird to your friends if you continue to follow.
Perhaps you are at a fork in the road today. Which direction you take depends on what your heart is seeking. I want to remind you that you’ve traveled that path of seeking after things of the world and you know where it leads. Instead, if you are standing at the fork, try putting all of your faith in Him. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and step in another direction. Let go of whatever is standing between you and Him.
Take the leap.
Take His hand.
Take the narrow path.
He knows the plans He has for you. Be encouraged and put your trust in Him.
Father, may we be wholeheartedly after you this day and all those to come.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!