One of my professors in class quoted an old theologian yesterday:
“Always Israel’s greatest peril is God himself.”
Dr. Baloian went on to say that:
“America’s greatest fear is not Osama Bin Laden, it is Jesus Christ.”
Yesterday was a heavy day for me. I spend the afternoon in a three hour class talking about different types of abuse in my “Adolescent Issues and Interventions Class.” It made me angry, sad, hopeful, cynical and unfeeling all at the same time. A flurry of emotions come to my head when I was reminded about how often women are sexually abused. And somehow that fit in perfectly with the nighttime class of “Hebrew Prophets” where we spent over two hours in the book of Jeremiah.
It is dangerous when we read Jeremiah 4:18 and think of what Baloian said above. “America’s greatest fear is not Osama Bin Laden, it is Jesus Christ.” What does Jeremiah 4:18 say?
“Your ways and your doings have brought this upon you
This is your doom; how bitter it is!
It has reached your very heart.”
In speaking the prophets always speak of impending doom as a result of what people have done. Their “ways” and their “doings” is what would bring a crushing blow to the Israelite people. They would never again rise to the full glory that they had once rose as a result of what they had done. The word “heart” here is not translated as the emotional part of who we are. The heart in the Hebrew mind was the “consciousness” or the “center of your being.” In other words, this corruption of Israel had reached the very “center of Israel’s being.” It was inherent now in who they were. And Jeremiah desperately and intimately wants to bring his people back to God.
And perhaps the preachers who preach “hell in a handbasket” would learn something from Jeremiah following verse 18 into 19.
“My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.” –Jeremiah 4:19
Vernon McGee says it like this, “You should never preach judgment or about Hell without a tear in your eye.”
Dr. Baloian tweaked it slightly saying, “If you tell your children they’re going to hell, you’re going to hell because your life is hell without your children.”
I can only imagine what Jeremiah must have felt and heard from the Lord. I can imagine that he did not want to speak it, I can imagine he did not want to be chosen. The only good picture that I can think of for this is Metatron in the movie Dogma attempting to comfort Bethany when she thinks her “mission” is too big. I can imagine that he did not want the “big guys” to win. But he knew they were going to win. Perhaps the American might understand it if Jeremiah had come today:
“Sell all your stock. Stockpile your food. But it won’t help.”
And here I sat in class just three hours earlier listening to story after story about how women had been brutually beaten sexually, emotionally, physically, and that we everyday allow economic abuse and environmental abuse. Everyday we allow segregation between the urban and the suburban. We allow a break between the rich and the poor. And we expect to turn out any differently than those who stood in Israel.
Some call Jesus the New Testament Jeremiah:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” –Luke 13:34
“America’s great peril is not Osama Bin Laden, it is Jesus Christ.”