Reading: Jeremiah 26:1-24
“This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.
“Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them—then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’”
We humans are a bargaining bunch, aren’t we? We always want to know what’s in it for us, especially when something “extra” is expected of us. What’s the tradeoff? The payout? Kids learn this behavior very young… “If you’re a good girl at the grocery store, you can have a lollipop when we’re all done.” And it continues through our adulthood… “If you help me move, I’ll buy you pizza and beer.” I’ve been guilty of both.
Did you notice, in comparing verses 2-3 to verses 4-6, that there’s something missing? In verses 2-3, God told Jeremiah that He would spare the people of disaster if they changed their behavior. But He didn’t make that part of Jeremiah’s speech. There was nothing obviously in it for the people listening, so they thought it would be a better idea just to kill Jeremiah. (Seems a little extreme to me.) It wasn’t until Jeremiah had to defend himself to the city officials that he mentioned God would spare them if they changed their minds. All of a sudden, everyone wanted to listen!
We can see, pretty regularly, that the world responds to God’s word similarly. We pick and choose the things that benefit us the most, and “kill” the parts that don’t fit into our comfy lives. If there’s nothing good in it for us, we reject it and dispose of the messenger. We’d be much smarter to listen and obey without a “bargain.”
God’s word is alive and active, even today, teaching us how to live. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it puts us in the face of rejection. We have to remember that this is a crazy, broken world… What seems counterintuitive and opposite of the world is often what God is asking of us.
God does promise us, though. When we follow Him with our actions, with our devotion, with our money, with our lives, He does reward us. He is storing up our treasure, our reward, in heaven. Waaaay better than any lollipop.
God, thank you for your promises. And thank you for your unchanging word. Help me to seek you earnestly, in my words and actions, even when it goes against what the world says is best. And give me the strength to remember where my reward truly lies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.