Keith Beyar, Missionary
Who would want the life of a prophet? Yes, you have a special relationship with the Lord giving you insights into God which no one else could attain. You would truly commune with the Creator God and be his instrument to communicate to His people. But, when you consider the people of Israel at the time of Jeremiah, this communication was going to be harsh, bad news. In the end (18:18-23) the people chose to silence the messenger rather than listen to the message. This is what the Old Testament describes as “stiff necked people” because of behavior like this.
Indeed, at this time God is addressing the tribe of Judah (all the others had been scattered already) and their sin against Him. The threat is to withdraw his peace (16:5) and the death that followed would not even be redeemed by a proper burial. Peace (Shalom) and burial rites were very important to the Jewish people (then and still today) and God was threatening to take both of these away. At the same time, God issues warnings out of a motivation that we would turn from our ways (repent) and follow him once again.
The picture of this restoration is like a tree planted by a river in the desert (17:5-8), a sharp, green contrast of life and health surrounded by desolation. Regardless of the environment or conditions, the person (tree) will continue to bear fruit because they trust God, they have their confidence in Him, not in themselves. Someone who will continue the course of righteousness (obey God’s commands) will experience true life and blessing. Disobedience will always lead to judgment, whereas obedience leads to blessing.
In 35:1-19 we meet the descendants of Jonadab who made a commitment before the Lord for himself and his descendants about the type of life they would live and their abstention from alcohol. Jeremiah even tests them to see if their commitment continued through the generations, and it had. God’s response to this was a promise of blessing to this family, illustrating the message of chapters 16-18.
What path will we choose? The choices we make today form the life we live tomorrow, big and small choices add up to define us. Will we choose to plant ourselves along the stream of living water, God leading our lives in all seasons? Or will we choose our own way when it seems best to us and swing back to God only when things get tough? It’s easy to see our need for God when the times are tough but, this “seasonal” commitment won’t allow our roots to grow deep, enabling us to stand strong when it does get tough. God wants our hearts, our whole hearts, and he wants to bless our decision to follow him. Consider today where you are planted, and check–how deep are your roots?