Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jeremiah 8 & 9: Alignment Brings Life

Jer 8:21-9:2 Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.  Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers,
so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. 

Jer 9:20-24 Now, O women, hear the word of the Lord; open your ears to the words of his mouth.Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament. Death has climbed in through our windows and has entered our fortresses; it has cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the public squares. Say, "This is what the Lord declares: "'The dead bodies of men will lie like refuse on the open field, like cut grain behind the reaper,with no one to gather them.'" This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord. 

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Being an eye-witness of the destruction and wholesale slaughter of his fellow Jews, and the massive deportation of the remaining population, it's not surprising that he experienced the most grief and sorrow among the prophets.

Jeremiah loved his people--if not he would not wail and write laments for the nation. But he could not save them from self-destruction because they have become so misaligned from God's vision and values. Despite God's self-declaration that He is the Lord who "exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight" (9:24), nevertheless, Judah experienced death and destruction in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king.

Misalignment with divine vision and values always lead to self-destruction. This is not just true at a national level, but also true at a personal level. When we walk according to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, especially the values enunciated in the 8 Beatitudes (humility, repentance, mercy, peace-making, etc), we experience healing and wholeness. I met a retired Christian couple in KL on Thursday while I was there for a meeting. They were telling me about a atheist friend of theirs, now in his 70's, who was a cancer-survivor. Though not a believer, he did his research when he was diagnosed with cancer to fight it. He finally discovered the healthy lifestyle that enabled him to conquer the disease. Today he goes about sharing what he has learned from his experience. Among other things he shares about diet and a healthy lifestyle, he mentions the attitude of being happy--learning to relax and laugh.

What this cancer survivor has discovered is that by living a life aligned to God's original intent for humans, he was able to restore his health. The same holds for other areas of our lives too--especially in the area of relationships. When we begin to live by the 8 Christ-like attitudes in the Beatitudes, we will have healthy relationships, not self-destructive ones. God in his kindness, justice and righteousness, has built his life-giving principles in His laws and commandments. If we want to live healthy and productive lives, we cannot ignore them. Judah did and the end result is self-destruction and the loss of the homeland.

May God help us gain wisdom from this historical tragedy of the nation of Judah. As the Lord has said in Jeremiah 9:23-24, "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight."

Lord, may we never boast in our wisdom, power and wealth but only in the fact that we know You and have experienced Your kindness, justice and righteousness here on earth. Amen.

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