The Will of the People
Powerful One, I acknowledge Your transformative presence. I long to cooperate, not resist Your formative work in my life.
Consider: "Sin means to deviate from the right path and find ourselves under the verdict of guilty in the presence of the Eternal Judge" (Sinclair B. Ferguson). Jeremiah reminds the Israelites and us of this solemn truth.
What had happened to Josiah's reforms? Priests and prophets collude together in "a horrible and shocking thing" (30). As repeated through time, it seems that although the reform instigator was genuine, priests and princes saw "long-cherished privileges ... being exposed. The true prophet had no regard for vested interests ... [while] lesser prophets could give oracles that supported the status quo" (John A. Thompson).
The people continue in the popular Baal cult--but Jeremiah exposes Baal's impotency. Unlike Baal's perpetual battle with the chaos monster of the sea, the Lord "made ... an everlasting barrier" that controls the roaring waves (22). He, not Baal, controls the rain--the worship of Baal has been to no avail in drought (20-25). Jeremiah also exposes the active scheming of those with power (predominantly members of the royal-priestly establishment). They enhance their own wealth through deceit, while being inactive in care for the "fatherless ... poor" (26-28). Previous oracles have spoken of short-sightedness in relying on alliances (Assyria and Egypt) but now mentioned is "trust" in their own fortifications (17). Gods other than the Lord and the security associated with power, riches and strong defense are all useless when God brings "a distant nation" (15, Babylon).
Over against the "wind" and "lies" of the false prophets (13,31), the "words" that God puts into Jeremiah's "mouth" (14; 1:9) are "fire" that consumes all that the people are trusting in. The "fire" metaphor is repeated in 23:29, shattering the supposed solid "rocks" of the false prophets. The Lord is the "God of hosts" (14, NRSV), an expression embracing powerful authority over all heaven and earth, including the hosts (or armies) of the nations. His words alone are the sure guide in the present and into the future. The majority do not rule.
Who do you think are false prophets today? What is their lie and how do they profit? How can you be on your guard against them?
Lord, it is so easy to deviate from Your path, to prefer other things before You. Today I resolve to correct my preferences and again make You first in my life.
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