Archive for August, 2017

I wonder how often the prophet Jeremiah had to force himself to
get out of bed to face the day. The prophet and poet for whom truth is grasped through metaphor and image (as Dorothy Sayers stated, “we have no way to think, except in pictures”) must have demanded, “How long, oh, Lord must I do this?” King Zedekiah, no king at all really but a puppet of the Babylonians, was a shape shifter in his allegiances. When the Babylonians were present, he paid them suitable deference – at least enough to convince himself he’d convinced them. To the Egyptians he called, “Come deliver me!” More than once King Zedekiah
commands Jeremiah, “Tell me the truth.” Jeremiah must have burst out laughing at the irony of a
king of God’s chosen people asking for the truth while calling on the Egyptians of all people for deliverance. But Jeremiah keeps on getting out of bed in the morning, even though he knows the images of truth will keep coming and God will command him to speak and, because his life is bound so intimately to the great I AM, speak he will.

Jeremiah’s call forced him to confront a puppet king and his puppet bureaucrats who cared for
nothing but their own survival. And that call demanded he live among people who were suffering
because of a king who served only himself. The mind’s eye of the prophet stayed in overdrive
painting images of truth as he bore witness to the suffering and demanded the king do his job.
Jeremiah’s insistence on speaking the truth put him in danger from those in power who do not
want their incompetence and indifference exposed.

The prophet’s refusal to keep silent got him thrown in prison. I wonder if Jeremiah hoped that in the dark of the cistern prison the images in his mind would fade away so he wouldn’t have to speak the truth nobody wanted to hear.

But God, who seems to delight in turning everything on its head (or perhaps he’s actually turning things right side up) often brings us friends in unexpected places. Ebed-melech was one of Jeremiah’s friends in unexpected places. In a palace where suspicion and intrigue were swirling in every dark corner, who would’ve blamed Ebed-melech if he’d just kept his head down? Instead, he risks his own life to remove Jeremiah from the cistern and tenderly care for him. I wonder how many conversations he and Jeremiah had about God’s demand for justice and if Ebed-melech’s imagination was fired up and his mind’s eye sharpened to the truth through those conversations?

Jeremiah? Well, it appears that he kept on thinking in pictures and the puppet king kept on asking for a truth he’d no intention of hearing. I wonder how often Jeremiah had to force himself to get out of bed to face the day.

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