In Chapter 32, Jeremiah has been imprisoned by King Zedekiah for prophesying against Israel and affirming that the army of Nebuchadnezzar will indeed destroy Jerusalem and everyone in it because of Israel’s radical disunity from God. Zedekiah sees that as treasonous.
Jeremiah answers that God told him his cousin would come to him in prison and offer to redeem property that is legally his. What? Invest in land that is about to be completely overrun by Babylon?
Jeremiah then tells King Zedekiah that his cousin did indeed come and make the offer:
“Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord” (32:8b, ESV).
When there is a decision to make, do we truly verify that it is what God wants? We come up with a list of a dozen reasons why what we want is good and then proceed to obtain it. This is disunity with God.
Then if the decision turns bad, our first thought is often, “How could God do this to me?”
Jeremiah teaches us to recognize the “word of the Lord” in perfect unity with him. The answer lies not in choosing from a human position of fallible temptation, but rather in God’s prompting.
Today it is the Holy Spirit who speaks, not a visible cousin. Especially when the entire list of choices seems impossible and there is nowhere to turn, we should make our decision only with deep, passionate prayer and repentance, intersecting with God’s never-ending love:
“You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them…whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds” (32:18-19).
Last week I told of my exile where I had been threatened with a lawsuit by both sides of a vicious local political battle. My “cousin” turned out to be my boss, whom I was required to notify under this kind of threat, and I was sure I would lose my job. There was nowhere to turn.
But to my shock, the boss chuckled on the phone and asked, “Did you say both sides threatened us? Ha! That means you are playing your hand perfectly. Stand tall with integrity and you will be rewarded.”
Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
Fourteen years later, my “cousin” was my boss once again, as we arrived together at Penn Station in New York at 8:30 a.m. on September 11, 2001. As the attack ensued on the World Trade Center just a few blocks away, we were faced with impossible choices: run into the street (there could be a bomb in the station); stay in the station (and accept the risk of further attack); or see if our train to Philadelphia might still leave in ten minutes (great target for terrorists).
Nowhere to turn.
So we stopped in the middle of the growing chaos of the station and prayed out loud, heads bowed. We both felt the Spirit close at hand, whispering, “If the train does leave, that is your safest escape.” We bounded for the tracks below. It did.
And then we knew it was the word of the Lord.
Stop. Pray. Repent in God’s never-ending love. Listen. Trust in his restoration.
So where is the Christmas connection? In Jeremiah, Jesus is not yet born as a human, but he is very much present in the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So I created a new word – Jesus is “pre-carnate”!
Take the time this Christmas Eve to read this “pre-carnate” love letter from Jesus:
Jeremiah 32:36-44 and 33:6-22
Here lies a treasure of details about Jesus’s never-ending love and restoration – for you!