Read Jeremiah 36
Focus on verse 7
My personality is a strange mixture of characteristics that occasionally cause some internal conflict in my assessment of people. There is a part of my mind that warns me that most people are basically self-centered and that even their benevolence toward others is motivated by what they hope to gain from it. At the same time there is another voice from within that desires to overlook this and see only the best in people. As I consider the interaction I have had with people over the years, it would seem that most often what I expect from people is eventually validated. As I consider this it is entirely possible that this is so because we tend to find what we are looking for in people not because some are selfish and others are not, but because we all are both selfish and benevolent at times. Therefore, when we look for what is good in people – we tend to see that which is good in them. When we expect to find bad stuff…we see bad stuff because most people also have some bad stuff that eventually can be found if that is what we are looking for. This is not to suggest that there are not some people who have seem to excel more in one or the other category, it is simply to establish that we all have at least a little of each, and that whether we see a person as good or bad depends at least to some extent on our presupposition of what we expect to find.
In today’s reading we notice that despite all the evil that surrounds him, Jeremiah is holding on to the hope that it is not yet too late; that the people will in this last hour repent and return to God in the hope that God might belay the coming judgment.
“It may be that their plea for mercy will come before the Lord, and that every one will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” (v. 7)
Jeremiah’s hope is given a boost when the people who hear the words of the scroll read in the temple respond in fear saying, “we must report all these words to the king.”(v. 16) This is however, as far as the hope of repentance will travel, for when the same words are read to the king and his court his hope is short-lived; “Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments.” (v. 24) Presumably if the king had responded in genuine repentance there may have been a few more years of peace for the people of Jerusalem, we do not know with certainty what the result might have been. What we do know is that the king’s defiance solicited a further prophetic warning specifically for the king and his family in regard to their demise, which in time does indeed come to pass.
The take away for me from this is that it would seem that it is never wrong to hold on to hope, no matter how dismal circumstances may appear. Those who place their trust in God will ultimately not be disappointed. We may suffer along with those who do not believe as many in Israel did, but we can confidently hold on to the hope that regardless of how our story here on earth ends, our eternal well being continues to be secure.