Summary: God’s message is the same for us as it was to Jeremiah and the Apostles - Don’t be afraid to spread the Word of the Lord.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The lessons appointed for this Sunday are very apropos for the time in which we are living.
I’m sure that you are all very familiar with the fact that we now have a color-coded warning system for terrorism in the United States.
Green means that we are at a low risk of terrorist attack. Blue is a general risk, Yellow is an "elevated condition," meaning there is a significant risk of attack, Orange signifies a high risk of attack, and Red means a "severe risk" of attack.
Since those codes were established over 3 months ago, I believe we have been in a constant Yellow alert status.
In fact, almost every day we hear of a threat of some sort. Most are unconfirmed, but they are enough to make us, perhaps a bit uneasy.
On the other hand, we’ve heard so many of them, do we sometimes wake up in the morning, hear that we are at yellow alert, that there has been another unconfirmed threat somewhere in the United States and go……SO?
Have we become nonchalant regarding these threats, especially out here in the west? I mean, after all, we have our own problems. There are major forest fires burning in most of the Western States.
I know that I can plead guilty to not paying nearly as much attention as I use to when someone talks about terror.
I bring this up, because in our OT lesson for today, we have the prophet Jeremiah, who on a religious level, may have been the Tom Ridge of his day.
Jeremiah, if you recall, was a reluctant prophet. In the footsteps of Moses, you might say.
Just like Moses, when called, Jeremiah’s first response was, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I’m only a child.”
Well, God’s response was one that we hear throughout the Scriptures. He told Jeremiah; “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you to say…..and here’s the really important part…..Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”
So Jeremiah followed the command of the Lord his God and started to prophesy. And boy did he say some scary things.
Jeremiah lived and prophesied during the reign of the last five kings of Judah. In other words, just before the exile to Babylon.
One theologian in a commentary on Jeremiah wrote this: "It was Jeremiah’s lot to prophesy at a time when all things in Judah were rushing down to the final and mournful catastrophe; when political excitement was at its height; when the worst passions swayed the various parties, and the most fatal counsels prevailed. It was his to stand in the way over which his nation was rushing headlong to destruction; to make a heroic effort to arrest it, and to turn it back; and to fail, and be compelled to step to one side and see his own people, whom he loved with the tenderness of a woman, plunge over the precipice into the wide, weltering ruin."
This is what Jeremiah saw coming. This is what he told the people of the land of Judah. The people, the kings, the priests. To anyone who would listen, Jeremiah was giving a RED alert.
Judah was way beyond Yellow. They had surpassed Orange. They were going down and Jeremiah was telling them so.
Just before our lesson for this morning, Jeremiah had been at it again.
At the command of the Lord, he had gone to a region known as Topheth and taken with him a clay jar.
Please listen to just a few short verses from Chapter 19
"Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching, 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. This is what I will do to this place and to those who live here, declares the LORD.
When Jeremiah returned from Topheth, he was met by a priest by the name of Pashhur.
Pashhur had heard what Jeremiah had been saying so he had him arrested, beaten and put in the stocks in the front of the Temple.
The purpose was to teach Jeremiah a lesson. They wanted Jeremiah to shut up!
They were tired of hearing his ranting and raving about what was going to happen to them. He had been at it for a long time and nothing had happened.
To make a long story short, when Jeremiah got out of the stocks he was not a happy man. He told Pashhur that the Lord had a new name for him. No longer would he be called Pashhur, but from now on his name would be Magor Missabib.