Reflecting on Jer. 38: 4-6, 8-10
Somehow we think the people we call “prophets” were immune to pain, loneliness, or terror. Not so. Jeremiah, whose miserable time in the cistern is related in today’s reading, wanted to be loved, not reviled. God duped him, he said, and he let himself be duped (Jer. 20:7).
Of all the prophets in the Old Testament, his life was the most similar to Jesus. Both were reviled by their enemies, and even their friends. Both so aggravated the religious authorities that they were watched, in hopes that, through carefully laid traps, they could be revealed as hypocrites and frauds. Both were thought to be worthy of death.
Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem to the kings and people of Judah. This was terrifying! Surely no army would ever breach the walls of the city that housed God’s own Temple!
The prophets who counseled calm were much beloved, and ate in the palace. Jeremiah? Him they tossed him in a cistern. And this is where we see the big difference between Jeremiah and Jesus. While he once spoke on behalf of his adversaries, when his own life was severely threatened Jeremiah began to pray for their demise.
In retrospect, we all wish we’d listened to the true prophets in our lives. We remember the guidance from parents and teachers, and wonder why we didn’t heed their advice more attentively. And now we stand before God on behalf of our own children, who aren’t listening all that carefully either. And so the world goes.
And Jesus? From the cross, he spoke on behalf of his murderers, asking that they be forgiven, for they knew not what they were doing.
What prophetic words have you heard, and ignored, and now wish you’d taken to heart?
Kathy McGovern ©2019