Home > Jeremiah Was a Dragon-Man > Jeremiah Was A Dragon-Man*: One of these things is not like the other.

Jeremiah Was A Dragon-Man*: One of these things is not like the other.

I’ve avoided the book of Jeremiah for a long time because that’s my name. I always thought that I would naturally tend toward reading it more than the other prophets so I would deliberately read a different book instead. Now, realizing how little I know it, I decided to start engaging with the text a little bit. My plan is to write some thoughts on a short passage of each chapter and blog about it on a regular basis. I’m sure my interpretations will be superficial given my lack of familiarity with the text, but there will probably be some things of note in this upcoming 52 post series.

A lot of sweet stuff I could touch on in chapter 1 of Jeremiah. We could talk about his youth, God’s plan for his life, crazy visions, God’s affirmation, and the like. I think I’d like to start by talking about broader themes of the book and the Bible in general. So we go to verse 9-10:

Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”

I love the way that God sets Jeremiah over nations and kingdoms. Jeremiah doesn’t receive Samsonite strength. YHWH doesn’t give him military power. YHWH doesn’t give him anything which would typically place Jeremiah over nations and kingdoms. YHWH gives Jeremiah His words. God’s words are a mechanism by which His power is unleashed and his will is accomplished. I think it is important to keep Jeremiah’s power over nations because he has God’s words. When Jeremiah is being mocked by everyone, facing the overwhelming flow of culture, and standing before kings and armies, it’s easy to think that Jeremiah is the one who is vulnerable when the truth is Jeremiah has the upper hand. He has been given the words of YHWH, through which the world was created and the world will be judged.

Being placed over nations, what the prophet is supposed to do with God’s words is what God does a lot of in Scripture. These nations will be plucked up, broke down, destroyed, and overthrown. It’s judgment time. As we go through this book together, we will see God warning of punishment coming for Israel and Judah because of their unceasing disobedience. His people will be torn from their lands because of their refusal to repent, turning away from their other gods who are not really gods and following YHWH.

However punishment is not the final goal. When God judges, he doesn’t just punish the perpetrator because that’s not justice. YHWH’s ultimate purpose is not to destroy, but to rectify. What has been built and what has grown up is heinous, helpless, and hopeless so it must be demolished, not to leave destruction but to leave a solid foundation on which to build and good soil in which to plant. YHWH wants to rebuild His people, restore their relationship, that they would be His people and He would be their God. YHWH is using Jeremiah to bring his justice – to set things right.

By this time in human history, God’s had a lot of practice with this. He created the world to be good, then he destroyed most of the people in a flood. Why? To get back at everyone for disrespecting him? No, YHWH destroyed what was ruining His creation so that He could re-create. Breaking down in order to build and plucking up in order to plant is what God has been doing since the beginning, is doing in this story to set His people right, and what God is doing today to set us right. This is why we must die with Christ to the old man and put on the new one. This is what it means to die daily.** Insofar as the old man or woman which runs counter to God is in our life, we will not experience God’s New Creation. Israel’s story and ours are the same
* ‘If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.’ -Jeremiah 20:9 See Also: the other dragon man

** It would be interesting if someone used the devastation images of the prophets to talk about dying to oneself in order to live for God. Surely dying to ourselves is sometimes a tumultuous process and at times seems overwhelming and hopeless. The end is new life, but the process includes violent death.

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  1. April 27, 2013 at 11:18 pm

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