Sunday, September 18, 2016

Jeremiah 36:20-23 -- On Alternatives to Burning

"And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.
So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth."
Jeremiah 36:20-23

This is an interesting story that starts with Baruch writing all the words of the prophet Jeremiah and reading them in the temple to all the people.  Eventually, here, the writings come before the king, and he has them burned.  After this, he then wants to take Baruch and Jeremiah, presumably to have them destroyed as well.

That isn't what happens though, because God just tells them to write it over again, as well as giving them a message for the king, predicting the loss of his kingdom and an unfortunate death.

I think the lesson here for us is that ignoring or trying to destroy scriptures and/or prophets is pointless.  They are just the messengers of God's will, and we can't touch or change that, no matter how much we dislike being called to repentance. But if we can stop, even for just a second, and instead of being angry try to consider God's words and his pleading with us to repent, we will see that he is trying to help us.  He is trying to give us a way to avoid and escape destruction and loss.

Yes, it means that we need to change, and that we can't have everything our way.  It means that we have to recognize our own faults, and that other people also might know about our imperfection.  We don't want people to know our brokenness or to see us weak or not in control... but to save ourselves and avoid loss, we have to sometimes allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  To learn to love, to learn to connect with others, to admit that we can't do it all ourselves... that we need other people, and that we especially need God.

Today, when the words of the Lord make us uncomfortable because we aren't living them, let's consider alternatives to burning.  Perhaps we could accept them and give them a chance.  Perhaps we can take the time to consider that God might be right, and we might be wrong.  Let's get back on track to being our best selves by reconciling with God and choosing not to make him an enemy.  Let's listen to him and work with him to solve our problems and make our lives better.  Let's accept his advice and work on improving.

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