A Devotion for Wedesday, April 1, 2020
Jeremiah 32:1-9, 36-41 (NRSV)
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3 where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4 King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5 and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend to him, says the Lord; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?”
6 Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” 8 Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. 9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver …
36 Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, “It is being given into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence”: 37 See, I am going to gather them from all the lands to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety. 38 They shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
“I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety.”
Jeremiah must have felt like God was playing an April fools’ joke on him. Judah was under siege by Babylon. He himself (speaking for God) had said the nation would fall and king Zedekiah would be carried away. But then God directed him to buy a plot of land from his cousin – in s country about to be conquered. What a foolhardy investment! Or an audacious act of faith.
Jeremiah announced Gods’ judgment on Judah but also declared God’s promise of an everlasting covenant. Then he put his money where his mouth was, buying land to show he believed God’s covenant was stronger than God’s judgment. Whether we face upheaval on a personal level or a societal level, God’s covenant with us is also everlasting.
And like Jeremiah, there will be small acts of faith we can make – in the midst of upheaval – that invest in the promise of God’s goodness.
Prayer: Gathering God, move me to put my faith in your goodness –
and my actions where my faith is. Amen.
Matthew 22:23-33 (NRSV)
23 The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. 26 The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman herself died. 28 In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.”
29 Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.
The Sad-you-sees pose quite the convoluted story for Jesus to deal with. And to our modern ears it would make little to no sense because we don’t have the same rules for dealing with the death of a spouse. In Jesus day, that was the way of caring for a widow who would otherwise become poor, with no real status in society because, in the day, women were not valued in the way they are today (even with the current inequalities). So the responsibility for caring for the widow fell to brothers of the deceased husband. As I say, strange to our ears! But, that isn’t the real heart of the question.
The Sad-you-sees didn’t believe in the resurrection in the first place, and were trying to show how farcical the idea was with a farcical proposition. Jesus sees through their attempt to trap him. Marriage isn’t what’s most important. What is important is that God is the God of the living, not the God of the dead. Whatever that life looks like when we move on from this life, and there are many different thoughts, ideas and beliefs about what it does look like (Are there golden paving stones? Do we all fly around with angelic wings? Is there a Pearly Gate?) the main thing is, there is life! And that life is defined by God’s love, the love that persisted throughout the Old Testament, even when the people rebelled or turned their backs (as noted in the comments from “The Word for Today” devotional above). That love eventually leads to the birth of a Savior, One who comes to redeem us and say, “I am the way the truth and the life!”
So it is life we look forward to, life in God’s arms, forever. No fooling!
“And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.”
– 1 John 2:25 (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,
Want to do something positive in this uncertain, anxious time?
Write an encouraging card, note or letter for our elderly friends at Senior Star (there’s a bin in the breezeway where you can place them) – or for one of our shut-ins (Ken Bechtler, Myrtle Daneilson, Helen Randall and Barb Morphew) which can be brought to church for delivery.
Sign up to ring the church bells to send the message to our community that God is with us in the midst of this time, and that we at Messiah are praying for those who are affected, and for an end to the pandemic.
For those affected in any way by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For our congregation in this time of separation, that we would yet be held together.