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Oooh Jeremiah*: A Prayer Answered, A Prophet Vindicated

March 20, 2013 Leave a comment

In the last chapter we discussed in Jeremiah, chapter 20, Jeremiah had a rough go of things. He was arrested, beaten, and thrown into stocks for a day by Pashhur the priest, son of Immer. Understandably, being beaten and publically humiliated for preaching the word of YHWH was pretty frustrating for Jeremiah. After being released, he laments over his isolation, embarrassment, having many enemies, and being stuck in his circumstances, all while declaring that God is trustworthy and will prevail. Despite being shunned for his words, Jeremiah was the one right person in the midst of an ignorant nation.

In the beginning of chapter 21, we see, at least in part, an answer to Jeremiah’s prayer.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchiah and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, saying “Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”
– Jeremiah 21:1-2

Do you see it? Jeremiah went from being in stocks for his prophecies, to praying, to having a king request Jeremiah’s prophecy. Jeremiah transitioned from laughingstock to the counselor of a king over the course of a chapter. Why are things changing for Jeremiah? Because his prophecies are beginning to be manifested in reality. Jeremiah is vindicated soon after his expression of His frustation before the Lord.

In the text, I believe Pashhur performing the action in chapter 20 and Passhur (different Passhur) performing the action in chapter 21 is important to notice. These individuals represent the completely different ways the leaders of Judah, specifically the religious leaders of Judah, respond to Jeremiah. Passhur once engaged in beating, seizing, and publically humiliating the prophet for his words. Now, because of those same words, Passhur is requesting the help of Jeremiah at the behest of the king! I suspect the placement of two Passhurs in the text so close to each other whose responses so obviously contrast with one another’s is a deliberate literary move highlighing the shift in responses to the prophet (albeit not a permanent shift). Attitudes and actions towards the prophet shift when the prophets words that once seemed insane turn out to be true.

Jeremiah’s plight as a prophet is probably the plight of most prophets. When things are going well and the prophet warns of Babylon’s future destruction of Jerusalem, no one listens to or believes the words of Jeremiah. But when it looks like Babylon is indeed preparing to attack Jerusalem, who can anyone, even the king, turn to for answers but the person who saw this coming all along? Prophets are frustrating fools when they are warning about future results of sin and preaching repentance, but they are sought-out sages when sin bears its fruit and death is at the door.

What do we (I) take from this? Three things. 1. Jeremiah’s prayer of frustration, expressed desire for vindication, and request to see YHWH do what He said he would was answered. He prayed in chapter 20, YHWH vindicated in chapter 21. In the middle of a story about a nation, YHWH is still looking out for the individual. 2. Speaking truth into wickedness can be a real bitch in the short term. But perhaps when words become reality, those who once rejected the truth-teller will come back for wisdom and aid. Keep speaking truth in love. 3. It is possible that Jeremiah’s public humiliation is part of the reason king Zedekiah even knew who Jeremiah was. Maybe being nationally known as a laughingstock and a famous fool was the tool YHWH used to bring Jeremiah’s words before the king. Even beatings and public humiliation can be used for God’s glory and His glorification of us.
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A Quick Thought On Anxiety and Prayer

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

This will be short and sweet. I hope. I was thinking about the relationship between our level of anxiety and the quantity of our prayers. I would assume that most of you are like me and the more anxious you are, the more time you spend talking to God because you’re constantly asking for Him to do something. These anxiety ridden conversations (although they are a poor excuse for the word) with God are sometimes… often… my primary way of interacting with Him! It seems silly. It is silly.

Scripture does tell us to cast our anxieties on him because he cares. Some might say God wants to use anxiety to bring us before him frequently. There might be some truth to that, but God doesn’t want us to be anxious. Scripture also tells us that after we present our requests to God, we should feel an inexplicable peace. Anxiety and peace are incongruent. And, that “care-casting?” Well, that involves getting rid of them as well.

God is also constantly telling us not to fear because of His presence with us. Anxieties are merely fears that we will not get what we want. Sometimes we want something to happen, sometimes for it not to, sometimes it’s about other people, sometimes it’s about getting something, sometimes it’s about money, sometimes kids, school, work, unemployment, expectations, relational issues, blibbity blah blah blah. We are afraid of not getting what we want. Anxiety is an inherently self focused thing, even when it’s about someone else because we are wanting A, B, or C for them. We are anxious because of our desires for them, not because of the situation they are in.

So… anxiety is merely a symptom of self-centralization. Giving our cares to God and thankfully presenting our requests before Him are acts of giving up what we want. If we give up what we want and instead choose to trust in His goodness and let what He wants become what we want, then there is no longer any room for anxiety. We’re free from the fear of the petty. And in our freedom, we can truly converse. I think that when we are at peace is the time when our conversations with God become much more like conversations. When anxiety free, we acquire the ability to stay in the moment, connect in the moment, just be in the moment. And when you are in the moment with Love Himself, you wonder why you ever felt anxious at all.

The Presidential Debates

September 27, 2008 Leave a comment

We’ll go double time on postings, although this one is far from interesting or insightful…

The individual candidates stances on the issues were interesting and important.   I don’t care as much about those though. What’s really interesting is how frustrated the candidates get with one another.    It’s really interesting how they interact with one another.  It seems like they generally have a sense of enmity with one another, certainly coming stronger from McCain than Obama.  Some things that especially stuck out to me.

1. People don’t like being misunderstood, misinterpreted, misquoted, or misportrayed.  Both candidates deliberately misrepresented the other for the purpose of making themselves look better.  Sometimes they seemed to try to get a rise out of the other candidate.  Both candidates hated it and either impatiently held in their words or interrupted the other person to correct them and maintain their image.  What is interesting about this is that the candidates counter arguments were emotionally charged in a way that seemed personal.  Their main concern was not how to maintain an election winning image, but to rectify their personal image for reasons related to their own socially affected emotional health.
2. I’m also a little sick of this idea that politicians have to pretend their record is perfect.  Some politicians will say that they will make mistakes and are unable to lead perfectly, but I don’t know if I know any that will actually admit the mistakes they made in the past.  Barack should just come out and say he was wrong about the effectiveness of the surge, rather than blaming his being wrong on the surge being beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.  John whined about Barack’s early record in voting,   Barack could have simply admitted his early flaws, note that he corrected them, and voila! he wins respect and maintains integrity.  The American people want someone who can and does admit when they err.  At least, I do.
3. Let’s be nice.  There doesn’t have to be such a strong divisiveness.  You can disagree strongly, have these “fundamental differences,” and still show a respect for the position of the other and a love for who they are.  Both men are intelligent.  Both are capable.  Both want the best for the country.  Both have done good things and both have made mistakes.  One of my favorite things about Barack is that he shows a lot more respect for John than John shows for him.  I wonder how much more might be accomplished in government if a spirit of cooperation was more prevailing than a spirit of opposition.

May God be with and bless this country, along with the rest of the world.  May we have generous hearts in a failing economy.  May we look to God as our Sovereign Provider instead of the American economy.  YHWH, bring peace to our hearts.  Protect us.  Guide us.  Tenderly hold us.  Rip away the things that we hold on to that will fail us.  Provide for us.  Spirit, move in the hearts of men.  Make them aware of their sin.  Make them aware of Your presence.  Make them aware of Your hope, Your love.  Move believers to action.  Empower the church to truly be the body of Christ together in the world.  Jesus, forgive us for our sins.  Forgive us for our dependencies on things that will fail us.  Forgive us for depending on money.  Teach us to store our treasures in heaven.  Teach us to love you in all things, through all things.  We love You because You first loved us.  In Your name, Amen.

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