Father, You see what I am and can be. Use me to further Your purposes in the world.
(1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.)
Consider: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). That was before it all went wrong!
How is Jeremiah to shock the population out of blissful failure to acknowledge culpability and the reality of coming judgment? His own anguish and heart pounding (19-21) is placed alongside God's word: "fools," "senseless" (22). Jeremiah "takes his listener inside his very own person as an attempt to pierce their numbed indifference ... [H]is wild anxiety is more real than their cynical self-confidence" (Walter Brueggemann). Jeremiah is no dispassionate conveyer of a message, nor does he set himself over against his fellow citizens. He identifies with his hearers and is in agony as he envisages the coming disaster. Similar language is seen in 31:20 of God's own "heart yearns." Centuries later Jesus was also to weep over the coming destruction of a similarly unconcerned Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).
Failure to know God is paired with failure to "know ... how to do good" (22). Being "skilled in doing evil" has disastrous results--four times Jeremiah "looked" (23-28). Described in vivid apocalyptic language, the chaos and destruction is a reversal of creation (contrast Genesis 1-2). Human "doing evil" leads to the opposite of God's intentions for his creation. Stark contrasts continue in two feminine images of Jerusalem: a courtesan dressing for lovers whose desire is to kill her and the cry of a young woman as if giving birth but being murdered (30,31).
Like the exiles, we read these words after the images have become reality. They vividly portray the disastrous results of human "senseless" failure to know God and know how to do good. Their warnings heighten human culpability but also show the pained compassion of God's messenger who would give the warning. "There is nothing in the character of God that makes judgment any less disturbing for God than it is for those who experience it or view it" (P. D. Miller).
Bring to God in prayer examples of "uncreation" you experience in the world and your own response--in thinking, feeling, speaking and doing.
Lord, continue Your work in me so that I will truly be a new creation in You.
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