“In those days, the princes said to the king:
‘Jeremiah ought to be put to death;
he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city,
and all the people, by speaking such things to them;
he is not interested in the welfare of our people,
but in their ruin.'” Jeremiah 38:4
The first reading began this morning with the princes persuading the king to execute Jeremiah, but never mentions what it was that he said that made them hunger for his death – He had predicted their destruction. More than that, he encouraged them to abandon their political ties to their homeland and seek refuge with their enemies.
“Thus says the LORD: Those who remain in this city shall die by means of the sword, starvation, and disease; but those who go out to the Chaldeans shall live. Their lives shall be spared them as spoils of war that they may live.” Jeremiah 38:2
The governing powers, the princes themselves and the people who followed them, had become so corrupt that only so severe a punishment as handing them over to those who would treat them as “spoils of war” was appropriate.
For speaking such an ugly truth about the evils of his age, Jeremiah was lowered into a cistern where he sank deep into the mud to await his slow death by starvation and dehydration. Jeremiah, the quiet man with no talent for public speaking had once placed himself in God’s hands when he became His prophet, and as he sank deeper into the mud, he was once again completely at the mercy of the Almighty. As he faced near-certain destruction, God was already working for Jeremiah’s release from captivity.
Even then, the king was sending men to fish him out so that he could listen to God’s warning himself.
God told the king to hand himself, his wives, and his children over to The Babylonians; to sink into the mire of being slaves and spoils of war. He was to allow himself to lowered down until it wasn’t possible to go any further down, as Jeremiah had allowed himself to be lowered into the well. There the king was to wait patiently for the mercy of God.
How many times in our own lives have we been called to humble ourselves? To allow ourselves to be lowered to a point of embarrassment and humiliation? How often has God called us to do the unlikely and uncomfortable? And if we respond with obedience and wait on the perfect timing of God, how many times have we been raised whether spiritually and/or in the esteem of the world as a reward for our obedience?
Our God doesn’t ask the easy of us. He asks for us to do the hard things. He asks us to walk the tough roads and the uncomfortable pathways, to trust him on the blind corners because all things lead to his glory.
May we learn to trust the foresight of God even as we wait on His timing in the muck and the darkness.