Let me go back for a moment to the beginning of the book of Jeremiah to chapter 1, the calling of Jeremiah by God: “… I formed you … I knew you … I consecrated you … I appointed you a prophet … I have put my words in your mouth.” It’s pretty clear that God’s hand is upon this young man for the express purpose of proclaiming His word. Understandably Jeremiah is reluctant, but God is reassuring: “… for I am with you … Do not be dismayed … they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver [rescue] you.” Lastly, one amazing thing God says to Jeremiah is this: “I am watching over my word to perform it.”
In his book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul David Tripp writes, “Adam and Eve were created to be revelation receivers. They were given communicative abilities that no other creature was given. They were created with the ability to hear, understand, and apply God’s words to their lives. These abilities were not given primarily to encourage human relationships. They were given so that we could know God and understand him. . . . Human beings need God’s words to live fully for his glory.”
Tripp goes on to say that God also designed human beings to be interpreters and that this gets to the heart of why we do what we do. “Our thinking conditions our emotions, our sense of identity, our view of others, our agenda for the solution of our problems, and our willingness to receive counsel from others. That is why we need a framework for generating valid interpretations that help us respond to life appropriately. Only the words of the Creator can give us that framework.”
But in the garden comes another voice, another counselor, with a different interpretation; and Adam and Eve listen to the lie and all hell breaks loose. “Now,” says Tripp, “we live in a world with thousands of voices that interpret life and compete for the allegiance of our hearts.”
In our reading today Jeremiah is being faithful to his calling to proclaim the word of God. King Zedekiah, in his fear and anxiety over the invading Chaldeans, calls for Jeremiah and in desperation asks, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah calmly responds, “There is.” He later advises the king, “If you will surrender . . . then your life will be spared . . . Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you.” But the king, his servants, and the people are not listening. Their agenda for the solution to their problem, determined by listening to “trusted friends,” is doomed, resulting in death, destruction, and captivity.
But there is one who is listening, Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch who was in the king’s house and no doubt heard Jeremiah speak. He’s the one who delivers (rescues) Jeremiah from certain death by pulling him out of the cistern; and as the Chaldeans prepare to destroy the city, God’s word is sent to Ebed-melech: “But I will deliver you … you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely save you, … because you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.”
Thanks be to God for his faithful servants who proclaim his word and for his grace that enables us to hear and respond in faith.
Is there any word from the Lord? There is.
“Blessed Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that, by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. . . .” Amen. (Collect for Proper 28, BCP)