Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Through Thick and Thin”
Jeremiah 37:11-21 (NASB)
Now it happened when the army of the Chaldeans had lifted the siege from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin in order to take possession of some property there among the people. 13 While he was at the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah the son of Hananiah was there; and he arrested Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are going over to the Chaldeans!” 14 But Jeremiah said, “A lie! I am not going over to the Chaldeans”; yet he would not listen to him. So Irijah arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 Then the officials were angry at Jeremiah and beat him, and they put him in jail in the house of Jonathan the scribe, which they had made into the prison. 16 For Jeremiah had come into the dungeon, that is, the vaulted cell; and Jeremiah stayed there many days.
17 Now King Zedekiah sent and took him out; and in his palace the king secretly asked him and said, “Is there a word from the Lord?” And Jeremiah said, “There is!” Then he said, “You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon!” 18 Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “In what way have I sinned against you, or against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where then are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land’? 20 But now, please listen, O my lord the king; please let my petition come before you and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, that I may not die there.” 21 Then King Zedekiah gave commandment, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guardhouse and gave him a loaf of bread daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guardhouse.
We live in a world of ideas. Whether at school, work or church, one will most certainly encounter someone expressing their ideas, or express their own. However, one of the many critiques set against this age of ideas, is society’s growing inability to discuss ideas without becoming combative. Timothy Muehlhoff of Biola University once lamented how we now live in, what he calls, the “argument culture.” Interestingly enough, I don’t believe we’ve only recently entered the argument culture. Mankind has been fighting over ideas for quite some time, from current socio-political issues to biblical times. Sometimes debates over ideas has been civil, while others have not. In extreme cases, people have even experienced violence for expressing themselves. In fact, the further back in time one goes, the more violence over ideas one would expect to see. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, was imprisoned and beaten for faithfully expressing the Word of God.
In the passage above we see Jeremiah make his way to the land of Benjamin to claim property. When Jeremiah reaches the gate, the captain, Irijah, accuses Jeremiah of defecting to the Chaldeans. Several years prior to this, Jeremiah had been preaching the word he’d received from God, warning Israel of the coming destruction of the city (Jer. 21:9 [NASB]). Irijah probably concluded that Jeremiah’s message stood against the best interests of Benjamin. Because of this, despite Jeremiah’s denials, Jeremiah is arrested and imprisoned without trial. Pausing here in the narrative, I can’t help but wonder how often the message of the Gospel is deduced to be against the best interest of the people, especially here in California. The reality of the current cultural climate is sometimes troubling to reflect on. How often do I sweep my convictions aside, succumbing to social pressure? In Pastor Josh’s words, “How often do we [I] live as if God didn’t exist?” Do I have the strength to go to prison for the Gospel? Or to the grave?
As the passage progresses, things do not improve for Jeremiah. He is brought from the prison, in secret, before King Zedekiah and asked, “Is there a word from the LORD?” (Jer. 37:17 [NASB]). Now it’s obvious, Zedekiah isn’t asking for the actual word of God, rather, for some favorable news regarding the kingdom. Sometimes I ask myself what makes someone a hero. Generally, a hero is someone admired for their courage or accomplishments, or perhaps both. Unflinching, Jeremiah looks into the eyes of the king, and delivers God’s message exactly as revealed. “You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon!” (Jer. 37:17 [NASB]). What makes someone a hero? Standing in the face of the authorities that threaten you with prison and death, and holding firm to God’s word. I hope we can all look to God for the strength to follow Jeremiah’s example. Let’s stand hand-in-hand together for God’s word, holding steadfast to the Truth, speaking it to the world in love.
Prayer: Father, it’s easy for me to be strong and stand up for you in church, around brothers and sisters in Christ and in my quiet time alone with You. It becomes much more complicated when I fear for my job, my freedom, my safety or even meaningless things, like social status. I pray You would remind Your church every day, that in You we find the resolve to stand up for the Truth. We need you more and more each day.
Bible Reading for Today: Job 33 (We apologize for the error on yesterday’s QT. The reading should have been Job 32. It has been corrected accordingly.)
Lunch Break Study
Read: 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” (NASB)
Questions to Consider
- What did Paul’s “course” look like?
- What would “finishing the course” look like in today’s day and age?
- Reflect on this passage and consider what “finishing the course” would look like in your own life
- Paul went from high social status as a Pharisee, to (what the pagans considered) a persecuted “cult leader” as he traveled all over to spread the Gospel and plant churches. Like the rest of the apostles, Paul endured beatings, imprisonment, torture and ultimately death for the sake of Christ, all with complete confidence in his convictions and commitment to God. Paul, like Jeremiah and the others God has called for His work, sets a shining example for the church to follow.
- Though the difficulties we experience may take many forms, finishing the course in modern times may look much the same as the past: looking to God for the strength to stand beside brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of the Gospel.
- Ultimately, I to serve full time in ministry. I’m not sure exactly how that will manifest, or where in the world my service will take me, so for now my answer is a bit generic: I simply hope I can faithfully serve God and His people, until my days are spent.
According to Kairos’ Pastor Peter, the most misquoted verse in the Bible may be Phil. 4:13. Time after time this verse is cited when we haven’t trained quite as hard as we should have for the upcoming Spartan race. However in the context of standing firm for the Gospel, Paul’s words are quite relevant. Reflect on the idea of finding strength to endure in God, and what that means for you.