Stroll through Scripture for Sunday December 3, 2023

Based on the reading from Jeremiah 33:10-11, 14-18

The prophet Jeremiah, like Isaiah, is one of the major prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Jeremiah overlaps Josiah’s time as king but extends beyond him to the end of the kingdom of Judah and the Davidic line of kings, the destruction of the temple, and the defeat of Jerusalem which the people thought was invincible.  

Jeremiah’s life spans a time that is filled with political upheavals, uncertainty, and change, wars that consume nations and regions, and when leaders used religion for their own purposes.  Being a prophet of God, speaking God’s word to the people, did not make Jeremiah popular.  Rather, as the Lutheran Study Bible states, “His prophecies explain that this chaos was God’s divine judgement on the people of Judah because they were unfaithful to God.  Most of Jeremiah’s listeners thought he was a heretic who opposed the popular religious understandings and practices of the day.  Some people though he was insane.  His friends and family stayed away.  Religious leaders called for his death.  Jeremiah was depressed, angry, and insecure.  But he endured all of the persecution and rejection.” (Pg. 1212)

When we get to chapter 33, the situation looks grim for the people of Jerusalem.  As we have heard time and time again, death and destruction are not the end of the story.  While Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, brings destruction and the end of the Davidic line, the destruction of the temple, and the defeat of seemingly invincible Jerusalem, what we hear in Chapter 33 is a message of promise and hope and a future.  In verses 9-13, we hear God promise the restoration of Jerusalem.  In verse 11, we hear God promise to restore the temple.  And starting in verse 14, we hear God promise to restore the royal line of David’s descendants.  

This cycle of God making a promise, the people turning away and suffering as a result, followed by God restoring the people and the land in a renewed covenant is a recurring theme of the Hebrew Scriptures.  It is also a message of hope for us, especially in uncertain times full of chaos, wars, political uncertainty, and more.  God is faithful and keeps God’s promises, in spite of humanity’s unfaithfulness.  

Questions for Reflection 

  • God promises restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the temple – how are we called by God to work to restore our community?  
  • How does Jeremiah’s message of promise and hope in this chapter give us a sense of hope in the midst of difficult times?
  • Verse 17 starts off by stating, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord…”. This is a look towards the future.  God has always been a God who declares that the best days are yet to come, that they are not over and in the past.  We worship a God of hope and promise.  What days are surely coming, what vision is being cast by God, for us and our families and friends, the community, the church, and the world?  

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