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Dec 2, 2012(신현철 목사)

2012.12.20 11:39

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【본문】예레미야 33:14~16

【제목】선한 말을 성취할 날이 이르리라

I will perform that good thing which I have promised

 1.

As you try to grab a falling glass of water, you overturn a desk, so a hot soup spills out; you end up burning yourself, and have to go to an emergency room. What would you call a situation like this? We usually say these are “twisted” situations…  In your opinion, who do you think is the person who had the most “twisted” life?

Joseph from the Old Testament was hated by his brothers and therefore, and was sold as a slave. Not only that, his life became entangled in a mess: Joseph was falsely accused and was sent to jail. Of course, as time passed, Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt, and his “twisted” life got “untwisted”… Moses was also a “twisted” person. He hit the wrong person, and that person died… So he lived as a fugitive for his almost his entire life… Of course, later, he became a leader of Egypt and a leader of the people of Israel. Thus, in the end, you could say Moses’ life got “untangled”.

This person is not a figure from the Bible, but Obama, who was re-elected as the President of America, had a very “twisted” life in the beginning. Obama was born from a White mother and a Black father who was a herdsman in Kenya, Africa. At the time, the marriage between different races was not legal. When Obama was two years old, his father, who returned to Kenya, and mother divorced. Obama was raised by his mother, and lived in Indonesia after mother re-married to a man from Indonesia. Then, when his mother passed away from cancer, Obama, at ten years of age, went to live with his grandfather and grandmother in Hawaii. As a young child, he was bullied and discriminated because he was a mixed-race. As he grew older, Obama went to a Liberal Art college in LA, then transferred to Colombia University, and then got the degree from Harvard Law School after the graduation of Columbia. He lives his life as a civil-rights lawyer, and becomes the first African American President of the United States, and Obama’s life has opened up widely…

2.

  Jeremiah was a very twisted person from head to toe. He never had a smooth life until his death; consequently, he was nicknamed “Prophet of tear”. Jeremiah was born in BC 645 in Anathoth, a place not far from Jerusalem. His father was an oracle, so he lived in a very faithful environment. By the time he received God’s call and started to do his duty, King Josiah was in crown. Everything was fine by then, because Josiah was a great king with a great capability. However, Josiah attended a war and died; it was from then on Jeremiah’s life started to twist. After Josiah’s death, Jehovahkim, who was a harsh and evil, became the king; he killed the foreteller Uriah, worshipped an idol, and even sacrificed a little kid as a gift.

 

 

Jeremiah couldn’t stand this. From then on, he started to foretell the fall of Judah. Among his homilies, the most famous one is the Temple Sermon. In 7:4, he said “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.”” After he foretold it, even Jeremiah’s families turned their back on his. In 11:21, it says the following: “Therefore this is what the LORD says about the men of Anathoth who are seeking your life and saying, 'Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD or you will die by our hands.” This was God telling in advance that Jeremiah would be executed by his neighbors. The neighbors were to kill Jeremiah because his Temple Sermon was brutal. As a result, Jeremiah was firmly excluded by his family, neighbors, and oracles.

3.

 

That’s not all. Jeremiah 20:2 says “he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the LORD’s temple.” The person who put Jeremiah in prison was Pashur, the chief officer in the temple at the time.

 

Jeremiah 26:8 also says “But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die!”

 

Jeremiah 32:2 says, “Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.” Jeremiah 38:6 says, “So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”

 

Jeremiah experienced many troubles wherever he went. He was put in prison, he was beaten, and even sank down into the mud. So Jeremiah says in 15:10, “Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth, a man with whom the whole land strives and contends! I have neither lent nor borrowed, yet everyone curses me”

 

When God calls Jeremiah in 1:6, he replies, "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."

He tells God that he is not the right person that God seeks. But the Lord tells him to deliver the words of God to others. So Jeremiah becomes a prophet… But it does not appear to Jeremiah that God is helping him.

 

So Jeremiah decides to never again deliver the Word. He says, in 20:9, “But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

 

It must have been frustrating for Jeremiah. As he keeps spreading the Word to others, he keeps being hated, he gets beaten and goes to jail… If he decides not to spread the Word, the Lord would not let him…

4.

 

How were Jeremiah’s latter years? There is the scene at chapter 40, which Judah was ended by Babylon as Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 40. Many people were taken as captives to the Babylon. At that time Jeremiah was captured, too. So the Bible says, in 40:1,”The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon.”     

 

Then, chapter 40:4 says, “But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don't come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please.” Military commander, Nebuzaradan maybe became to know who Jeremiah was. Therefore he suggested Jeremiah go to Babylon together with him. 

 

What would happen if Jeremiah went to Babylon?  He might have been treated well and his twisted life would have been unknotted. The Jeremiah would have been the meritorious retainer of the victory because Jeremiah had told Judea people not to resist Babylon that would win the war.   

 

But Jeremiah didn’t go to Babylon. Chapter 40:6 says, “So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land.” The reason why he didn’t leave was to bring cheer to the Israel people who were poor and faced to difficulty. Jeremiah wanted to stay with the people, but Johanan took Jeremiah to the Egypt forcibly. At last, Jeremiah died there lonely.     

5.

 

From beginning to end, more so than a twisted life, Jeremiah lived a life of tears, a lonely life.

 

 While it is true that Jeremiah’s life was very complicated, what are really surprising are the words spoken through Jeremiah, as in chapter 31 verse 31, “The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Here, the term “new covenant” becomes a decisive instrument in distinguishing the Old and New Testament.

 

As chapter 33 verse 3 reads “'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know,” God promises Jeremiah to tell him great secrets.

 

 And in today’s verses 14-15, it is written, “The days are coming, declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.”

 

What is that big secret, the new covenant? God is talking about the righteous Branch sprout from David’s line. Here, “fulfill” means in the phrase 알리다쿰, which means “we are waking, health is being restored.” This is saying that God’s words of the perished Israel and Judah will be reawakened, and health will be restored again. And that restoration will be seen through “the righteous branch sprout.” There is a similar expression in Isaiah 4:2 where it is written “the branch of the LORD” as well as in Zechariah 6:12 which also uses the phrase “sprout.” All these may be representing the waiting and hope about Jesus Christ.

 

Although Jeremiah had a very tangled, twisted life, he was also at the same time tightly entangled with God as well. Hence, he was able to convey the meaning behind God’s words, and became the person who bore the prophesy of the most important, Jesus Christ.

6.

 

There are two possible and contradictory interpretations of the name “Jeremiah”. One can be interpreted as “God upholds” and the other as “God throws”. I think the second interpretation fits Jeremiah’s life more because he was completely thrown to the world. In 16:2, it is written, “You must not marry or have sons or daughters in this place.” He was not even allowed to marry and was thrown into a lonely life.

However, Jeremiah is a prophet who resembles Jesus the most. They are so alike in many aspects. Jeremiah repeatedly asked for repentance of the Israelites before the all of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was an outcast from the family, which was similar to Jesus as well because Jesus was not welcome by his own people or people from his hometown. One of the most important sermons by Jeremiah is on “temple sermon”, in which he shouted that it is a lie to say that temple is a safe place. On the other hand, Jesus said that the temple will fall. Also, Jeremiah was dragged to an undesired place and killed, and similarly, Jesus was crucified on the cross. On the surface, Jeremiah lived a twisted and miserable life, but was a good example of Jesus’ life.

 

As I meditate on the word of God, I thought about what life is really miserable or prosperous. If one lives a life so that through his life, hope of new covenant, God’s  mighty and secretive work, and God’s good work are realized, would that be a miserable life? Perhaps, we sometimes twist our link to God to make our lives seem prosperous. What should we do to untangle our twisted and tangled link to God? We cannot untangle it entirely all at once. One end should be loose. We should let go of our end that we are holding onto. It is a matter of time to have our lives twisted and tangled especially if our link to God is tangled in the first place.

 

 Even though Jeremiah looked like a very twisted person, his life was untwisted actually because his life had clearly showed Jesus Christ. 

 

 If you think your life has twisted during whole this year, I wish it will be unknotted in the coming New Year. I wish, at least, you will have no obstacle to wait and welcome Lord.   

 

It’s the 1st week of Advent. I really wish God’s words that were given to Jeremiah will be accomplished to you, as well and you will be the people who faithfully wait Jesus Christ. Especially, the lives of the believers who will be baptised today will be unknotted by God. I pray the God’s words be performed in this history.