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Trust and Obey (Jeremiah 50)

Scripture: Jeremiah 50:1–2

[1] The word that the LORD spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet:

[2] “Declare among the nations and proclaim,
set up a banner and proclaim,
conceal it not, and say:
‘Babylon is taken,
Bel is put to shame,
Merodach is dismayed.
Her images are put to shame,
her idols are dismayed.’ (ESV)

Observations: So begins the prophecy given to Jeremiah by the Lord for Babylon, that nation that had exiled Judah and committed such atrocities. Jeremiah is commanded to declare among them - openly and publicly - that their nation will fall and their god will be put to shame.

It almost seems ironic that, after being a voice of terror to the Judeans while telling them to surrender to the Babylonians, Jeremiah now publicly proclaims the Babylonian's demise as well. We read this and forget that God commands him to proclaim it and not to conceal it. At what cost? Hated by his own countrymen already. Hated by the Babylonians. Beloved by the Lord.

God is dealing with issues far larger than Jeremiah’s personal feelings and laments. He is dealing with kingdoms and covenants, with nations and promises. He is dealing with sin and death, righteousness and judgment. He is setting the stage for the Messiah, and working to undo a much larger exile.

That is not to say that God is simultaneously aloof and distant from Jeremiah’s plight. On the contrary, he is the God who prevents even a sparrow from falling without his leave. He is the King of Kings who will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his covenant people.

He is both transcendent and intimate at the same time.

Applications: Reflecting on this chapter of Jeremiah, a few applications come to mind.

  1. Obey the Lord no matter what. Surely Jeremiah’s life was difficult and tragic. He was a tool in the Master’s hand, but not always a pleasant one. He was thrown into a cistern and dragged to Egypt. He was threatened and hated by his own people. He was a man acquainted with suffering, known as the wailing or weeping prophet. Surely we see how his prophetic ministry looked forward to that of the Messiah, Jesus, and we see that no matter of suffering provides us with a pass on obedience. As Jeremiah obeyed to the end, even more so Jesus obeyed to the end. We must obey as well.
  2. Trust in God’s unfolding plan. Jeremiah penned these words some 50 years (give or take) before Persia would come and attack Babylon. In other words, he didn’t see the fruition of all the prophecies that he uttered. Most certainly he, like any man, doubted at times if he was doing the right thing, saying the right thing, and if it was all worth it. Wouldn’t it be easier to just keep his mouth shut? We remember the earlier words of Jeremiah that if he did that a fire would burn within him and consume him. Jeremiah spoke because it was real in his inner being, but he believed the words God had given to him as well. He trusted and he obeyed even when the end was not in sight.

Prayer: Lord, you are the Maker and Unmaker of all things. You hold the world in your hands and are working out and revealing mysteries unseen. You are restoring that which was lost, reestablishing your created order, punishing wickedness, and celebrating righteousness. You will reign forever and ever in your rightful place.

I repent of my own insubordination and the insubordination of humanity. We reject your authority in nearly every sphere of our lives from the home to the ends of the earth. We do not obey you. We do not trust you. Yes, Lord, I experience glimmers and glimpses of these things, but I would be a fool and a liar if I tried to convince myself that I had the faith and obedience of Jeremiah. I do not, but I want to, Lord!

I ask, God, that you would teach us obedience even in the midst of suffering. Teach us to trust you through difficult times. Let us look forward to FUTURE grace and FUTURE redemption, and to groan along with all of creation who is eagerly awaiting the fruition of these things.

I do not know the plans that you have for me, my family, the church that I lead, or the greater community at large, but I want us to trust and obey your voice. We do not know what is on the horizon, but we have our faith as a sure and steady anchor for our souls. We have your word to give us unshakeable confidence in life and death because we are not our own but belong to God. Amen.