Signpost 25 Aug: Psalm 71:1-6; Jeremiah 1:4-10; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
I feel sorry for Jeremiah. He tries to get out of being a prophet but YHWH is having none of it. And then we get this lovely bit (Jer 1:5).
After that it’s all downhill for Jeremiah. No wonder they call him the weeping prophet; for crying out loud, give us some good news, J.
Worse still, Jeremiah is probably the most persecuted prophet in the Bible. He is led like a lamb to the slaughter (11:18); he can’t even trust his brothers (12:6); his family curses him (15:10); he is beaten and put in stocks (20:2); he is threatened with death (26:8); he is beaten and imprisoned (37:15); he is thrown into a muddy pit (38:6); he is bound in chains (40:1); he is called a liar (43:2); he is dragged off to Egypt (43:6 and7).
Talk about don’t shoot the messenger. It’s not just that the Jewish people were worshipping idols and doing what their pagan neighbours were doing. It might be more specific than that. Their Babylonian conquerors were priest-astrologers who claimed to be able to work out a person’s or a nation’s future from the position of the stars in the heavens. In other words, they were astrologers and that may well be what Jeremiah 10:2 is railing against.
After all, the Hebrews were supposed to be monotheistic. For them there was supposed to be only one God – the all powerful, all knowing, loving and invisible being who created all things: YHWH the maker of the heavens and the earth. But the Hebrews just couldn’t resist thinking their star signs were a big deal.
Fast forward 700 years or so and we get Matthew 2:1-2. Well, guess what? Master astrologers were counted among the “wise men” amongst the attendants that also included conjurers, diviners and magicians who served at the court of the Babylonian king. I leave you to ponder.
And then we find Jesus losing his rag (Luke 13:15). Bit of an echo of Jeremiah, I reckon, especially when you think that the rules about what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath pretty much amounted to superstition masquerading as the law.