Can you refuse calamity? — Jeremiah 25-27

What is there about human nature that is so cock-sure that adverse, negative consequences will ever come our way. We start this way as children, sometimes, pushing the limits with parents and somehow surprised when punishments or consequences come — “Don’t touch that hot stove, Park; it’ll burn you honey.” Oh, I know what I’m doing; I’ll never get burned. Ouch! Boo-hoo! And somehow, we never quite seem to completely outgrow it. So it was with Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Let’s see look into our reading today to see what stubborn Israel was doing with Jeremiah’s warnings from God.

Jeremiah 25:3 ““From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.” — There are plenty of you who can feel Jeremiah’s pain, parents, spouses, preachers, teachers, etc. Your situation isn’t unique; there are plenty of “brick walls” that are talked to daily. And for all of us who’ve ever felt like a Jeremiah here, my heart, prayers, and empathy go out to you. But for just a moment, I’d like to appeal to the “brick walls” out there. How much longer do you expect to be able to do what you’re doing? There really will be a day of reckoning and there’ll be no talking your way out, no negotiations possible, no charming your way out, no fighting your way out, no door to run away through. A spiritual “hard rain’s a-gonna fall” one of these days — and your won’t be able to handle it.

Jeremiah 25:9 “behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.” — This prophecy was uttered (25:1) the very first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, and already the LORD is calling him His servant. Some of God’s servants bring good news, some bring calls to repentance, and others bring down the hammer. Nebuchadnezzar was in the latter category. God was going to pave the way for Nebuchadnezzar to rise to power, mow down his opponents in battle, and push his empire across the Fertile Crescent, down through Palestine, and on into Egypt. Was Nebuchadnezzar a good guy? No. He was a pagan who was brought to the point of recognizing God as the “Most high God” — but not the only one. And in punishment for his brutality, God punished Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon with loss of empire and a desolation of Babylon that has never been rebuilt. But he was nonetheless a servant of God. God can, will, and does use good guys and bad guys for His own purposes.

Jeremiah 25:11, 12 “‘This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.” — This passage (and Jeremiah 29:10-14) was read and gave hope to Daniel and the other exiles in Babylon in Daniel 9:2. God still wasn’t done with Israel, after all; the exile’s intent was to bring His people, Israel, back to Himself. As it turned out, it helped a whole lot.

Jeremiah 25:28 ““And it will be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you will say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “You shall surely drink!” — Nebuchadnezzar was going to be God’s hammer to not only Israel, but the many corrupt nations around them. Jeremiah was to send out prophet messages to them all and tell them also that they must repent or perish, lest God’s justice, symbolized in a metaphor of the cup of God’s wrath, come their way. But like most of us, they thought they could handle whatever God might send their way; they could repel the invaders, they could save themselves, they could refuse the cup of the LORD. But God won’t be refused; no man or nation of men or world of men and demons combined can refuse or resist Him. It’s something good to know, lest we allow our arrogance to overcome our good sense.

Jeremiah 25:34 ““Wail, you shepherds, and cry; And wallow in ashes, you masters of the flock; For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions have come, And you will fall like a choice vessel.” — I just liked the simile of falling like a choice vessel in this verse. A choice vessel would be that really pretty vase (pronounced “vahz” — you know what I mean) that you keep out of the reach of children. Why? Because the “vahz”, no matter how pretty, will shatter into a million pieces just like (or maybe worse, because they are often more fragile) an ordinary clay vessel. The point to the “shepherds” of Israel (princes, rulers, etc.): don’t think that your position, your noble station in life, your nicer clothes, your crown, or your money will give you any advance, when the hammer falls. The “vahz” will shatter as easy or easier than the common pot.

Jeremiah 26:8 “When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You must die!” — Fine! Kill the messenger! Why is always that way? As a preacher, I’ve been on the “business end” of contempt, hatred, and defensive reactions before. What they really hate is uncompromising truth, God’s justice, and perhaps God Himself. It’s important to keep this in mind, when the slings and arrows are pointed your way.

Jeremiah 27:12 “I spoke words like all these to Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live!” — Submission is hard for anybody, but if God has ordained an authority, His people should put their yoke on their neck (Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13ff). Jesus said,  ““Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30).

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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