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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 8:1-3

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 4, 2014

8 At that time, declares the LORD, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the people who live in Jerusalem will be removed from their graves. 2 They will be exposed to the sun, the moon and all the host of heaven—which they loved and served and which they went after and consulted and bowed down in worship.  They will not be gathered, and they will not be buried. They will lie on the ground like dung. 3 Death will be chosen over life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family wherever I banish them, declares the LORD of Armies.

I think I’ve officiated at more than a hundred funerals in my ministry so far (fifteen years). Like most cultures, we want some ceremony and dignity for a burial. Even when there is no family or friend to attend a funeral, the local funeral home directors, our congregation’s sexton (grave digger) and I all agree that a funeral should still be dignified and the person being buried treated with respect. This was even more true for ancient Israel. They wanted to be sure that, once buried, a body would never again be exposed or uncovered.

With this in mind, Jeremiah presents a shocking message from God. When the disaster came out of the north—the Babylonian invasion—then the bones of many Jews, perhaps even most of those buried near Jerusalem, would be uncovered from their tombs and exposed in the sun. And the list begins at the very top. Nobody would be exempt from this: kings, officials, priests, prophets, and everybody else would be exposed. It wouldn’t matter if your headstone was ten feet tall or if you had no headstone at all.

Why would an invading nation do this? A likely explanation is that they would be building something and they would open a lot of graves by accident. When the Babylonians came they built massive siege ramps and other earthworks around Jerusalem, and by digging up hillsides to get the rocks and dirt they needed, they would expose a great many tombs.

Another question we might ask is: What would be God’s purpose in letting this take place? Wouldn’t it bring shame to the Jews? Certainly. But more than that, God was making a point. They had been bowing down to the sun, the moon, and the stars, and now their bodies would be exposed to sun, moon and stars, and everyone else, too. God’s anger burned so fiercely over Judah’s idolatry that he called them “this evil family.”

Just in case some scoffer or agnostic might wonder: Does God really have the power to do this? God answers with his name: The LORD of Armies. The Armies of God are his almost uncountable hundreds of thousands of angels, always ready, willing and able to do whatever he commands of him. And if he might choose not to work through an angel, any creature or object in creation will serve. Jesus said: “If they (his disciples) keep quiet, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:39). When Balaam’s own wisdom failed him his donkey told him the truth (Numbers 22:28-31).

God will use whatever he needs to accomplish his purpose and to get his message into the world. If you happen to be that “whatever” today, don’t run the other way like Jonah. Do what you can to the best of your ability and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. He wants to turn people in repentance back to God and away from terrible destruction. His word has the power to make it all happen. So share it.

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.