A Lifetime of Waiting

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 25:10-12
 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever.

Reflection: A Lifetime of Waiting
By Erin Newton

We are all affected by time, sometimes wishing the sun would stop still in the sky or that it would rush ahead to better times. Worrisome events can be tolerated if we know our endurance must only last a prescribed amount of time.

As we read the words in Jeremiah, we often do not realize that God promises both judgment and restoration, but they are generations apart. What would it be like to hear that you must suffer the pain of losing your home? Will you have time to rebuild or start over? No. You’ll be there seventy years. Unless you are a small child, you will likely not live to see the end of it. Those born in exile would have no memories of their ancestral home in Israel.

Yet it is spoken to the people as a word of hope and encouragement.

There is no escape for Jeremiah and his peers. They are going into a period of judgment. The only consolation is that God has promised to make things right in the future. They know they will die in a foreign land trying to convince their children to hold onto hope for a little while longer.

On the eve of suffering, the word of hope is that God will overturn all evil. Eventually. The people settle down in Babylon and Jeremiah sends word encouraging them to be good citizens and live in a way that benefits the entire community.

We need this same encouragement today. We long for God to correct all evils. Heal the sick. Judge the wicked. Raise the lowly and humble the proud. He has promised he will do so! But at a time that we still don’t know.

Waiting is miserable. Contentment is the ability to find joy in spite of circumstances. Patience is the ability to tolerate delay without getting upset. As we struggle against the natural forces of our world, bound up in time, we must settle down in our neighborhoods. We must seek the prosperity of our towns. We must pray for our cities.

As we learn to wait on God, the ultimate aim should be to be peacemakers here. God does not call his people to erect walls to keep their neighbors out.

We must now ask ourselves, “Do I add to the benefit and blessing of my town or am I sowing seeds of discord and misery?”

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a tub or under the bed? Surely to be put on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden, but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. Anyone who has ears for listening should listen.” — Mark 4.21-23

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 25(Listen -5:07)
1 Corinthians 2(Listen – 2:32)

Read more about Come Out of Captivity
Even the weepiest of weeping prophets knew and proclaimed that light was coming and hope was warranted.

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Unexpected Contents of God’s Cup of Wrath

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 25.27
27 “Then tell them, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.

Reflection: Unexpected Contents of God’s Cup of Wrath
By John Tillman

Jeremiah’s prophecy of the cup of God’s wrath is so shocking that it leads to death threats against him. 

The cup of God’s wrath is a common image that echoes all throughout the scriptures. (Isaiah 51.17; Jeremiah 49.12; Lamentations 4.21; Ezekiel 23.31; Revelation 14.10) Jesus mentions not wanting to drink it if possible. Yet, eventually, he drains it on our behalf. (Matthew 26.39)

We might imagine this cup filled with dreaded poison. We’d be wrong. We might imagine the horrific practice, used by ancient Romans, Spanish Inquisition torturers, and South American tribes, of having molten gold poured down one’s throat. This type of horrific torture is human wrath, not divine wrath. 

The cup of God’s wrath, as described by Jeremiah, is not filled with poison, molten gold, burning sulfur from the lake of fire, or any fanciful substance of perverse punishment or torture. It is filled with wine. 

No special torturous properties are needed. The contents are our own desires. Victims simply drink and drink and drink, until they vomit and die. The picture painted by Jeremiah is a messy nightmare of people dying in pools of their own vomit. It is still horrific, but a far cry from scenes that might garner high ratings on television programs like Game of Thrones.

God’s wrath does not work the way human wrath does. God punishes us, more often than not, by handing us the bottle of our bad choices and letting us drink up. Jeremiah describes how the cup of God’s wrath would be passed from nation to nation as they each in turn were judged by God for their excesses and sin.

Wine, when used as a symbol of God’s wrath, is transfigured from a symbol of joy to a symbol of judgment, from a symbol of happiness to a symbol of horror.

The cup of God’s wrath is also a long time in coming. In this case, Jeremiah has been preaching for twenty-three years before God finally gives up appealing to his people and gives them over to self-destruction.

May we learn to listen to God’s prophets who, like Jeremiah, might not speak in ways we like or appreciate.
May we learn to soften our hearts to God’s appeals so that we, like the “good figs” mentioned in the previous chapter, (Jeremiah 24.4-10) will be carried through the judgment God allows rather than being destroyed in it.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is his mercy great upon those who fear him. — Psalm 103.11

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 25 (Listen – 6:12)
Mark 11 (Listen – 3:59)

Read more about Liquid Wrath and Liquid Forgiveness
When it comes to divine wrath, scripture often portrays it as a liquid.

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