Pray: Spirit of the living God, I pray You'll grant me a right faith, a sure hope, and a perfect love.
Read: Jeremiah 25:1-38
Consider: “Sin may have consequences with which we must live for the rest of our lives, but sin repented of can only work for our ultimate good” (David Roper).
Think Further: This chapter concerns sweeping movements in history and in the lives of peoples. It is not hard, on a theoretical level, to see the hand of God in such things; it is harder, though, to see ourselves in great events. Yet Jeremiah, having dealt with the leaders (chs. 22-24), directs his opening words at “all the people of Judah … and all those living in Jerusalem” (1,2). The exile facing Israel is partly the result of ordinary folk failing to hear the word of God (4). Leaders bear a heavy responsibility for wise and moral leadership, but great crises also result from the cumulative effects of small disobedience. When we fill with righteous indignation as we read the newspaper, we do well to ask how our own attitudes and priorities may contribute to the evil of which we read.
As a result of this collective guilt, God unleashes the empire of Babylon against the people of Judah. The cause and effect of international events do not yield to simple explanations, but they are not outside the purposes of God. Driven though Nebuchadnezzar was by his own impulses to expansion and tyranny, he could not escape also being God’s “servant” (9). Do we dare to see political leaders today—from the developed and developing worlds—in these terms as we pray for the nations?
Yet those who are used in God’s purposes are not excused from accountability for the evil they propagate. They, too, face their time of judgment, as did Nebuchadnezzar. For their evil does not quickly abate once it is spent, just as Nebuchadnezzar’s actions unleashed chaos in the surrounding nations (17-26). Yet, somehow, even then the hand of God works in judgment (30-38), and even then we are each driven back by our own failures to hear again the word of God.
Apply: Pray for a leader in world affairs, that he or she might be a good servant in God’s hands.
Closing Prayer: Lord, I pray You will empower me to repent of sin in my life, to purify the good, and to be in step with the Spirit in my daily living.