One must wonder, as God’s mouthpiece to speak His words, what would have crossed Jeremiah’s mind when he was asked to speak of deaths and disasters about Jerusalem and Judah to the elders of these places?
You could say that as Jeremiah lived in a secular world, his spiritual speech at the time of “Jeremiah 19” would have been regarded as nothing but doomsday prophecies. All his god-inspired instructions must have been framed negatively and non-constructive to the livelihood of the people then and this “foul mouth” prophet would be regarded as the bad news bearer whom all will come to despise.
Jeremiah 19 (New International Version)
1 This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests 2 and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you,
7 “‘In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds and the wild animals. 8 I will devastate this city and make it an object of horror and scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. 9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.’
10 “Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching, 11 and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. 12 This is what I will do to this place and to those who live here, declares the Lord. I will make this city like Topheth.
The way the destruction was described in Jeremiah 19 is pretty graphic. The people of Jerusalem and Judah were likened as the earthen flask which will be shattered on the ground into pieces with no possibility of piecing them together again. Their corpses will be buried until there is no more space to accommodate them. What then would have caused God to dish out such harsh punishments?
According to the scripture, the people had stiffened their necks and failed to hear God. They had also erected a high structure for the worship of Baal – a false and man made god. In doing so, they must have also concocted festivals and prayer activities to celebrate Baal, and for whatever reasons it may be, they would’ve prioritised the self manufactured Baal than the real God Himself.
3 and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. 5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. 6 So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
In this part of my writing, my thoughts brought me to prophet Jeremiah himself. What would have crossed his mind when God asked him to speak this way concerning His people. I mean, from the things that came out from his mouth and recorded in the bible for all of us to read until this day, they were very hostile, cruel and morbid. Why did God ask Jeremiah to utter such painful acts of punishments?
Like many Christians, we are sometimes caught by such dramatic turns of events in the scripture and we struggle to find a balance before answering them. It is quite a difficult thing to cope if your unbelieving friends and families come and whack you with such questions. Imagine a child having to defend the God he loves on issues like this, how is he to respond? Even a young believer well into his 70’s may not be spiritually strong enough to tackle such questions, how then are these young children to respond when the world throws such questions at them?
Now if we look at the world from a child’s lens, we will be operating innocently and faithfully to the original teachings of “why we love God” and “why God loves us”. Under no circumstances are we to move away from these lessons that compel us to wholly submit our lives to God. And here’s where it gets interesting – if we are truly serious about the subject of this “wholly submission”, then the original calling of God to His people reminds us that we are to be obedient to Him. When we abide by him so diligently, He shall then look after us like a father to a child would.
If we project the argument this way, maybe we can then understand why God came across as such a fearsome father figure during Jeremiah’s time. It was because His children in Jerusalem and Judah have, intentionally or otherwise, crossed the boundaries that He has set for them when He brought their forefathers out of Egypt. What boundaries are we talking about here? To worship God as the only one true God and nothing or nobody else.
With that in mind, if we then allow us to come to our children’s level again, we must realise that the faith of our children in their parents is a special bond that is usually not compromised. They would cling on to that kind of attachment until probably the teenage years when they begin developing their own aspirations and go on to self discover about their life purposes. But before they grow to that level of maturity, it is their innocent child-like faith in their parents that God admires most. It is also the same child-like faith that God often encourages us the adults to emulate after so we too as adults can cling on to our Abba Father without fear or favour, just simple 100% faith.
As we have now addressed the child-faith-parent relationship, a reality check now comes upon us – regardless of what the Lord would ask of us to do:
- will we follow Him wholeheartedly without questions like a child would?
- will we be like the child who would embrace mummy and daddy no matter the time and place?
- if we will, can we now understand why God was so angry with His defiant children especially after they’ve finally grown with wings, freedom and the liberty of thoughts and ambitions?
These are pertinent questions we must ask ourselves whether we’re adults or just a growing Christian walking with God.
I pray that you’ll find God in all the days of your life so you will not be lost in your pursuit of His wishes for you. May you inherit the bravery and loyalty like Jeremiah even when God is informing you something you’ve never been accustomed to. May you know that all His ways are for the good of your present and future, today and tomorrow and that your precious little soul will always be granted the pardon and mercy when you walk so very closely with Him, in Jesus name, Amen!
Bible reference from www.biblegateway.com