Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Ends of Power

by Ronald L. Dart

When Jeremiah walked the streets of Jerusalem after the city had fallen, he wrote with a sad heart about a broken country. He was old but when he had first begun to preach, he was so young he considered himself a mere child. Over the generations, he warned about what was coming. He had been reviled, hated, rejected, thrown in jail, tossed into a dungeon, and left to die. Rescued through the back door, he was in prison until the city fell.

But now, freed by the Babylonians, he walked the streets and thought about what he had seen and heard. For a long time, as he preached, he had assumed that repentance was possible. But now, as he considered the tragedy of Jerusalem, he had to wonder if the die had been cast long before he first began to preach as a very young man. Now, on this day, it seemed that everything he had preached had been in vain, and there had been no hope from the outset. So why had he been commissioned in the first place?

He knew the answer as he formed the question. The people had to be told what was coming and why. And the roots of evil went so deep. No one remembered where they had made their first mistakes. As he walked, Jeremiah formed the words he would later write: "What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, O Daughter of Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O Virgin Daughter of Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you? The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading" (Lamentations 2:13-14 NIV).

So, why did they listen to the prophets who were false and reject the one prophet who told them the truth? It isn’t hard to answer that. The false prophets told them what they wanted to hear. And by the time Jeremiah came on the scene, it was too late to change the hearts of the people. But they still had to be told. Jeremiah doesn’t seem to have been melancholy by nature, but by the end of his days, there was no brightness on the horizon. His faith in God had to tell him that the hope that indeed lay ahead was beyond his meager span of years.

For some reason that I don’t fully understand, I feel drawn to Jeremiah these days. Maybe it is because I am sensing that the die is cast on this nation, and our precious freedom is slipping away. And, just like the people of Jeremiah’s day, we can’t pin down the moment when we began the process.

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