What does it say?
In Jeremiah 18 God speaks through Jeremiah to liken his relationship with Israel to that of a potter and clay. God claims the right to fashion the clay any way he wants. In the final part of the chapter Jeremiah pours out his heart to God in response to the attacks against him.
Jeremiah acts out another living parable in chapter 19, a parable of a broken jug shattered by the prophet as God will shatter the nation. In chapter 20 Jeremiah’s message lands him in the wooden stocks. Discouraged and depressed from the personal attacks, Jeremiah is ready to quit, but he cannot squelch his passion for God’s word burning within him.
Following a very autobiographical section, Jeremiah 21-22 are collections of prophecies against the last kings of Judah, but they are not set in chronological order. Jeremiah 21 concerns Judah’s last king Zedekiah, who turns to Jeremiah for a word of hope or comfort (Jer 21). There is no fresh word from God for Zedekiah, only the hope of surrender to the Babylonians. Chapter 22 is directed at kings Jehoiakim and Coniah (also called Jeconiah or Jehoiakin), the kings right before Zedediah.
What does it mean?
Our thoughts should consider two themes in this passage. First, we turn to the prophet Jeremiah himself. We have been reading through an autobiographical section that gives us insight in Jeremiah’s emotional and spiritual struggles. God has called him to an extremely difficult and sacrificial ministry and Jeremiah suffers personal attacks, doubts, emotional pain and hurt, exhaustion, depression – you name it! The internal fire of God’s word is what sees him through.
The second theme is the story of the mission. After generations of the monarchy, Jerusalem itself is going to fall. Judgment is never cancelled, only delayed. Payday has come at last and Judah will fall to the Babylonians. The only alternative to inevitable judgments is for God himself to pay the penalty for our sin and this is exactly what he did in the person of Jesus Christ.
How will I respond?
Does God’s word burn within me? Why, or why not? God’s word sustained Jeremiah and I believe they will sustain me. What steps can I take to increase my commitment to learning and living God’s word?