Tuesday, October 31, 2017

And you thought you had it bad!

Chapters 11–20 witness to the highly demanding role of the prophet. A series of accounts reveal Jeremiah’s tormented life of prayer in vivid detail. These chapters are also known as Jeremiah’s lamentations or confessions (cf. Jer 11:18–12:6, 15:10–21, 17:14–18, 18:18–23, 20:7–18). They witness not only to his frustration and anger against a stubborn and hostile people, but also against God who makes him carry out such a difficult task. The prophet discerns that the insistent will of God is that Jerusalem will be destroyed. This is a hard message for him to pass on, not least because his message of doom regarding the false temple ideology causes strong opposition.

In the following verses and chapters, one gets a sense that Jeremiah has powerful enemies. The people of his home town Anathoth want to silence his attacks on Judah’s two-faced religious life ( Jer 11:18–19). In other words, on the one hand, Jeremiah suffers at the hands of his people who persecute him for his unpopular prophetic warnings, and on the other hand, Jeremiah grieves over the coming misfortune of the people in faithful intercession. On top of this, the prophet wrestles with God over his calling, his role, and the divine will. Jeremiah’s exceedingly difficult ministry context finds expression in a number of stormy conversations with Yhwh.—Standing in the Breach, page 357

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