Thursday, March 24, 2016

unquenchable fire

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Jeremiah 19 & 20
mark this: Jeremiah 20:9
People tend to live up (or down) to the names we assign them. In Scripture we see this often. Jacob means "heel grabber" and he spends the first half of his life swindling others or being swindled himself (Ge. 25:26).
Naomi changed her name to "Mara" when things became so bitter for her (Ru. 1:20).
Jesus (the Greek form of Joshua) means "the Lord saves" and He lived out His name to the full- His death and Resurrection mean our salvation (Mt. 1:20).
We named our oldest son Aiden, which is a Gaelic name that means "little fiery one." He certainly has lived up to that name. He can almost instantly move from a small flame to a raging inferno; he once angrily told his teacher "I wish we had a substitute teacher today!" because she had the audacity to remind him not to touch the piano.
But when we had him dedicated, we had a different understanding of fiery in mind. We were thinking more in line of today's passage in Jeremiah. It was, and still is, our prayer that the main fire in Aiden's life be not situational nor emotional, but rather from the Word of God.
Fire is an important metaphor in the Bible and especially in the book of Jeremiah. God has already encouraged/challenged the fearful prophet with these words from 5:14-
"I will make my words in your mouth a fire"
Now Jeremiah feels the true force of that reality.
He has struggled with relaying God's message to Israel, because the message was difficult to hear, and even more so, because the people were unwilling to hear it. Jeremiah has been a lone voice in a sea of apostasy. He has publicly attacked the people's false confidence in their beloved Temple (Ch. 7). He has survived plots on his life (Ch. 11 & 18). He has been beaten and arrested and jailed by the religious establishment. He has even felt betrayed by God (Ch. 20).
He has absolutely NO earthly reason to remain this object of ridicule. And yet God's Word compels him. Despite all the physical, and social, and religious, and emotional reasons to just keep quiet, he does not. He cannot SHUT UP because God's Word is SHUT UP in his very bones, it rages like a fire in his heart.
That is what God's Word is like. Not some inspirational fodder. Not a collection of nice stories and morals. Certainly not "Chicken Soup for the Wimpy Soul." God's Word is "a FIRE...and like a HAMMER that breaks rocks into pieces" (Jer. 23:29).

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