Monday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 37:1-21 (NKJV)
1 Now King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the LORD which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.
3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Pray now to the LORD our God for us.” 4 Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison. 5 Then Pharaoh’s army came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem.
6 Then the word of the LORD came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 7 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘`Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: “Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.”‘ 9 Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely depart from us,” for they will not depart. 10 For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.'”
11 And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”
14 Then Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.
So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. 15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.
16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days, 17 then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the LORD?”
And Jeremiah said, “There is.” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!”
18 Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What offense have I committed against you, against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where now are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land ‘? 20 Therefore please hear now, O my lord the king. Please, let my petition be accepted before you, and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.”
21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
It sometimes seems futile to have prophets or wise men. So few people will heed wisdom, much less the Word of God. It is normal for people to reject bad news. They don’t want to believe it. They want to believe all is well. Some will go to great lengths to maintain their denial of unpleasant truths. People spend a lot of their time distracting themselves from unpleasantness.
One might wonder that there was such denial in the face of God’s prophet in today’s reading, but is our world any different when we deny the Word of God? Even when we see the consequences all around us for not heeding the Word of God, those without ears to hear fill their ears with lies. As Luther has said, “Superstition, idolatry and hypocrisy have ample wages, but the truth goes begging.”
As Christians we must always be willing to hear the truth, regardless of how unpleasant it may be. We must be willing to question our own assumptions about good and bad to make sure that our assumptions line up with God’s Word. This is difficult to do, especially when we believe we have already figured out the truth. We become better Christians when we are open to new information and new perspectives, considering them with humility and faithfulness to the Lord. We should never take on new perspectives just to be new or different, but we need to change perspective when we learn that it is closer to God’s truth.
We pray: Lord, let us be open to hearing Your Word, and keep us humble that we might continually learn. Amen.