Jeremiah the Man of Faith

See the short video on The Fuel Cast, filmed at Torre Abbey ruins, Torquay.

JEREMIAH

Jeremiah is a towering figure in the Old Testament at the time of the 7th and 6th  centuries BC.

 

In many ways, he is the nearest a man can get to chasing after God’s own heart.

A phrase commonly associated with King David.

But without his particular “weaknesses.”

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Jeremiah a Man-Mountain

The Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament is spine-tingling.  I’ve heard too many people say it’s the longest book in the Bible, and that may be so, but that fact is given as a reason why it’s not read.

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Jeremiah was just a normal, whiney, complaining, weeping but faithful man that God breathed life and power into.  He became a one-man battalion of Heavenly truth and covenantal faithfulness in a culture of lies, more lies and damned lies.  Jeremiah stuck to his task because he stuck to God.  He was God’s Law enforcer and God’s heart revealer.

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The events that led to the Babylonian Exile of 586 BC had Jeremiah at the centre of them.  Events that  determined the shape of the covenant people of God for over a thousand years, maybe even beyond that, to something like…..forever.

But the sixth century BC was not just a cataclysmic time for the people of Judah, it was, it seems in God’s providence, a most astonishing time all over the world, in philosophy, religion, politics, art.  As well as in Judah with Jeremiah, in China, India and Greece, the foundations were being laid for humanity that still affects billions of people today.

Karl Jaspers calls this century, Jeremiah’s century, the “axial time”.  Eugene Peterson calls Jeremiah a “mountain to be mined on all flanks.”  Jeremiah is God’s man at the right time in the right place, being faithful, and speaking God’s Word to God’s wayward people in a time of unprecedented global upheaval (not that Jeremiah knew that)!

So what was going on globally?

“His contemporaries had no way of knowing it, but Jeremiah was the brightest star in what scholars centuries later would see as a constellation of religious leaders strategically placed across the world.  The seventh and sixth centuries BC were renaissance centuries in matters of the soul and God.

In other parts of the world Zarathustra was beginning a new religion in Persia; Lao-tse was forming Taoism in China; the Buddha was beginning his great reform movement in India.  In Greece, the philosophers Thales and Anaxmander were laying the foundations of Greek philosophy.

All over the world there was yearning and hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Deep thinking and ardent yearning seem to characterise what we know of the centres of civilisation in China, India, Persia and Greece.

In Palestine it was Jeremiah.”

A. Heinemann, Existentialism and the Modern Predicament, p.67

Reality

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Last night whilst having a beer(s) with a friend, we hit upon the idea of reality.  What is reality, and how is one person’s existential reality to be evaluated as any less a reality than mine, or yours?  It was, for all intents and purposes, a discussion based on the material and subjective immediacy of the here and now (made all the more exciting after a couple of pints)!

And I really value my friend’s provocations on these matters (of faith, reality, God, etc), because the questions and comments come from a place of genuine consternation:  “That’s his reality, there is no other!”  But, and this is a big but, reality is always multi-layered, something I couldn’t quite say right after all that delicious beer.   Continue reading

Jeremiah the Clay Pot

ClayPot

The mercy of God is exquisite.  The judgement of God is a wonder to behold.

Have you ever read Jeremiah 18 of the time when God tells him to go down to the potter’s yard and wait to see what God will say?  Whilst there, the potter shapes the clay but it goes wrong, so the potter collapses it all down into a big formless lump and starts again.  This is a picture of divine judgement on God’s hard-heartedly wayward people just before the Babylonian invasion of 587 BC.

But here’s the sweetness of it: Even when God collapses a person or a people down because they are ‘marred’ with sin, remember, His hands are still all over you, shaping and forming, never giving up, working his purposes out, creating for Himself a people as His own treasured possession.  I find it helpful to remember that judgement serves salvation, and whatever stage I am at in my life, God’s hands are all over me, shaping and forming.

Doesn’t it make you want to sing?

Click below for the full sermon.

Jeremiah 18

A Wedding does not make a Marriage

 

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I echo 100% the magnificent view of Eugene Peterson:

“When I talk with people who come to me in preparation for marriage I often say, ‘Weddings are easy; marriages are difficult.’ The couple wants to plan a wedding; I want to plan a marriage.  They want to know where the bridesmaids will stand; I want to develop a plan for forgiveness.  They want to plan the music of the wedding; I want to talk about the emotions of the marriage.  I can do a wedding in twenty minutes with my eyes shut; a marriage takes year after year of alert, wide-eyed attention.

Weddings are important.  They are beautiful; they are impressive; they are emotional; sometimes they are expensive.  We weep at weddings and we laugh at weddings.  We take care to be at the right place at the right time and say the right words. Where people stand is important.  The way people dress is significant.  Every detail – this flower, that candle – is memorable.  All the same, weddings are easy.

But marriages are complex and beautiful.  In marriage we work out in every detail of life the promises and commitments spoken at the wedding.  In marriage the long and rich life of faithful love that the wedding announces.  The event of the wedding without the life of marriage doesn’t amount to much.  It hardly matters if the man and woman dress up in their wedding clothes and re-enact the ceremony every anniversary and say, ‘I’m married, I’m married, I’m married’ if there is no daily love shared, if there is no continuing tenderness, no attentive listening, no inventive giving, no creative blessing.

Josiah’s reform was like a wedding.  Jeremiah’s concern was with marriage.  It was a great achievement to repudiate Manasseh and establish the people in covenant with their God; but it was a lifelong career to embrace God’s love and walk in his ways.  The people celebrated Josiah’s reform; they ignored Jeremiah’s preaching.  It is Jeremiah’s lifelong achievement that the soggy religious mush of the masses never dulled his perceptions nor muted his insistent witness.”