July 30, 2011 – Jeremiah 26

Click here to read Jeremiah 26 on BibleGateway.com

Hearing bad news is never easy. Think about the last time you heard bad news; do you remember that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as your last meal dropped to your ankles? Do you remember your mind beginning to race as you try to take in all the negative information and try to formulate a plan? Do you remember wondering how God could have let this happen? And do you remember that sense of overwhelming relief when you found a way to deal? Do you remember when you realized that even though DQ was out of brownie pieces, you could still have a butterfinger blizzard, and the night could still be saved? Bad news is never easy on any of us.

I’VE GOT BAD NEWS AND…

If hearing bad news is tough, delivering bad news is often even worse. Look at poor Jeremiah. God comes to him and tells him to go warn the people of Israel of their sin, or else God is bringing discipline on them. And lest you think God wouldn’t actually relent, look at Jonah and the people of Nineveh. God told Jonah and Jeremiah basically the same message, with the exception that the heathen Ninevites heeded the warning and the Israelite “believers” did not. (Maybe a lesson there for us?)

In any case, Jeremiah delivers his message of warning, and instead of repenting, the people attack Jeremiah and call out for his death. Imagine poor Jeremiah’s dilemma; God tells him that all his friends and family are going to be conquered. Pretty bad. But wait, there’s a light; if the people will repent, God may still forgive them and the disaster can be averted. Great, thinks Jeremiah, and he runs to the city to tell everyone the good news. All they have to do is turn from their evil practices and God will spare them. He delivers his message, waits for the weeping and wailing of repentance, and instead finds himself under arrest and dragged before the authorities with people clamoring for his death. How’s that for a bad day at the office?

KNOCK KNOCK

While it may be tempting to put ourselves in Jeremiah’s shoes, and feel ourselves the victim of unfair muttonheads, in reality we are more often in the position of the townspeople. Let’s imagine a scenario: it’s 8pm on any given weekday night and we’re just snuggling into the couch to watch Andy Griffith take care of a Mayberry shoplifter, when there’s a knock at the door. There stands the local nut outside our door, and he says to us “hey, guess what, God told me that you’re a filthy sinner, and if you don’t change your ways, you’re gonna get a beatdown with the ugly stick.”

What is your first reaction? Are you pleased? Or do you react in anger to this intrusion? Do you invite the naysayer into your house, or do you give him your size 12 in the seat of his pants on the way off your property?

The truth is, none of us like to be reprimanded. We all like to think that we’re in the place of the prophet, but perhaps we’re actually more like the looney townspeople. Today, our challenge is to honestly look at ourselves and try to soften our hearts and really hear what God is saying. Would we be able to listen if we got that message, or would we react against the messenger?  Will we be like the Ninevites, or the Israelites?

Is God trying to warn you today?

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