Read Jeremiah 40
Focus on verse 15-16
Imagine that there is a huge storm of epic proportions forecast to hit your home. You do everything you can to prepare for it, board up the windows, tie down any loose shingles, store up a small supply of food and water, and create an emergency plan of action. Then the storm hits! It turns out to be even worse than you expected. The house is almost entirely destroyed. As you emerge from the rubble you realize that you and your family somehow all survive unscathed! It’s a miracle! You are so relieved, so happy, as you begin dancing around the front lawn, celebrating your survival a big old dead branch from the top of the old elm tree finally comes loose, crashing down beside you breaking your right arm and both legs! What a tragic turn of events that would be. Hopefully you have never experienced anything like that, however, I would not be surprised if there were some similar stories out there.
Today’s reading in Jeremiah relates the beginning of a similar event. The big storm is over. The Babylonians have plundered the city of Jerusalem and many people have been killed or taken captive. For the ones that remain it begins to look like they will be okay. Gedaliah has been appointed as governor of the region by the king of Babylon, and it is beginning to look like it might not be so bad for those remaining in Judah. There is however, that old dead branch up in the top of the elm tree… Gedaliah is actually warned by Johanan of the danger, though in this case the danger is not a dead branch, but a man named Ishmael who is plotting to kill Gedaliah, but when Johanan offers to take care of the problem quietly, Gedaliah foolishly denies that it’s a problem. This becomes an unfortunate turn of events for the people who remained as when Gedaliah is murdered the remaining Judeans are scattered as Johanan predicted they would be.
Sometimes the real danger is not the big storm that threatens to kill everything in its path, but the false sense of security that we adopt after it has passed. The great unspoken reality that none of us like to admit to is that we have no guarantee that we will live to see tomorrow, no matter how secure we think we are. In Psalm 90:12 the psalmist writes, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Every day, every moment we have is a gift that the Lord gives us to use as His stewards. Only God knows the number of days that I have. Since I do not know the number, perhaps the way to get the most out of life would be to consider each day as if it could be my last, yet plan as though I will live to be a hundred.