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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 11:18-20

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Plot Against Jeremiah
18 The LORD revealed their plot to me so that I knew about it. He showed me what they were doing.

In this book there are six passages that are known as Jeremiah’s Confessions. All of them fall between this point and chapter 20 (Jeremiah 11:18-23, 12:1-4, 15:10-21, 17:12-18, 18:18-23 and 20:7-18). These passages show us the difficulty the prophet had in his lifetime. Jeremiah opens up his own heart to show how painful his call was, and he says things that tear at our own heartstrings. He wasn’t a callous man, but he was called by God to say some very callous things. These “Confessions” are often prayers to the Lord that sound very much like a grown man, heartbroken, sobbing into the phone with his elderly mother. He reveals his most personal tragedies with all the raw emotion of Barry Manilow or Taylor Swift.

Earlier God had accused Judah of plotting a mutiny against him. Now we see that it took the form of a conspiracy against Jeremiah. “They” will finally be identified in verse 21 as the men of Anathoth—the priests of Jeremiah’s hometown. Their story is not a happy one. Their family were the last descendants of Eli, the high priest at the end of the days of the Judges. Eli was cursed by God, who said that his line would be cut off from serving before the Lord (1 Samuel 2:30-35). Later, one man from this family (Abiathar) was called into David’s service, and even carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle for David. But he turned on Solomon, David’s heir, and joined in Adonijah’s rebellion. Solomon spared the man’s life, but sent him away: “‘Go back to your fields in Anathoth’… So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the Lord, fulfilling the word the Lord had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.” (1 Kings 2:26-27). Now this family was earning their way by serving as priests here and there in the villages of Benjamin and Judah, but Jeremiah’s preaching condemned everything they did. They were enemies of King Josiah’s reforms. So they were conspiring against their cousin the prophet.

19 I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I had not realized that they had plotted against me, saying,
  “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
      let us cut him off from the land of the living,
      so that his name will no longer be remembered.”
20 But, LORD of Armies, you judge righteously,
     you test the heart and mind.
Let me see your vengeance on them,
  for I have presented my case to you.

Jeremiah knew that his own family was planning to kill him. But it was on account of God’s own word, and that gave him courage. He put his life in the Lord’s hands. He didn’t plan to cleverly defend himself. He only asked that the Lord would handle it.

Putting our lives completely in the Lord’s hands isn’t an easy thing to do. Those of us who live in countries that vote democratically are tempted to think that we control our own destinies. We are misled by the devil into thinking that voting should be something we do about everything—even Christian doctrine. More than once I’ve been asked whether the church would be voting about whether the church would change it’s “policy” about something—abortion, living together, homosexuality, evolution, women pastors; the list goes on and on. These things aren’t policies. They’re a matter of doctrine; of what the Word of God says. The Word of God does not change.

But it’s even tougher when your life is in a shambles and your reputation is in the dumpster. You said something, you did something, and you thought nobody would know or care, but then it became a headline—at least to somebody—and now you’re fired, or in the middle of a divorce, or expelled, or defrocked, or you’re up on charges, and mostly you’re just stunned. Blindsided. How did this happen? Sin has put you in a toilet and the temptation is to give up. But life doesn’t have a reset button. The Taoists have deceived our children into thinking that suicide just starts your life over again, but it’s a lie, and you know it. So what do you do with the ruins and the garbage that were once the framework of your existence? Put your trust completely and only in God. We mess up, but he’s always there. Let him be your support.

In a some of our hymns, we talk about the Lord being our “stay.” A stay was the heaviest rope used by the navy in the days of sailing ships. Often it was actually an iron chain. It was the rope that held the big hundred-foot tall masts in place. Without the stays, the masts would snap and the ship would be lost. Without God, we would be lost forever. But he has us. He is our support, no matter if we have enemies in the world like Jeremiah had, or whether our own impulses and actions have made a wreck of things. He has you. Don’t fight him. He has forgiven your sins, and your soul is safe. His mercy endures forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.