Sunday, October 18, 2015

This week's lesson (October 17-23): rebuke and retribution

"Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people." -- Jeremiah 9:1f, NIV
Jeremiah was a true prophet.

That's why he tried to quit.

Read his book, after all, and you understand why Wikipedia defines "jeremiad" as:
a long literary work . . . in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society's imminent downfall . . . 
. . . kind of like an AM radio talkshow.

And just like those talkshows, Jeremiah has nothing good to say about his society.
  • Not its foreign policy.
  • Not its tax code.
  • Not its religious or political leaders.
  • And especially not its prospects for the future!
If you can't say something nice, in other words, then Jeremiah goes right ahead and says it . . . 
Which is nice work, if you can get it.

In fact, it's actually kind of fun.
I mean, we all know how fun it is to condemn the sins of others.
And if AM radio (and religious TV) is any guide, then doing so is both popular and profitable.
All of which suggests a lot of people would have been happy to volunteer for Jeremiah's job -- and even more would be happy to volunteer for that job today!
But not Jeremiah.
No, Jeremiah does not enjoy denouncing others.
He does not enjoy denouncing their sins.
He does not rejoice in the troubles ahead -- even though his people deserve them.
No, Jeremiah did not volunteer for this job; in fact, he repeatedly tried to quit!
Out of all the people who ever preached a jeremiad, in other words, Jeremiah may have been the most unwilling of them all.  
Maybe that's why he got the job.
And maybe that's why some people should not.

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