The sheer scope of history in examining the prophet Jeremiah boggles my mind. When I think about the time frame, we know that he is preaching to a specific moment in history - likely here at the end of the 7th century BCE. This is a little over 600 years before the birth of Jesus.
The southern kingdom of Judah was facing a threat from the Babylonian empire. Unfortunately for God's people, they occupied land that was the preferred route between Egypt and Mesopotamia. While this might allow for prosperous trade to flourish during certain points in Israelite history, the land often becomes coveted by whichever larger nation or empire becomes greedy for expansion.
In today's reading, we see Jeremiah berate his people for turning away from God.
This seems to be a common theme with humanity and it still rings true all of these centuries later. While in Jeremiah's day, there were tempting idols from other exotic cultures to worship. We may scoff at them out of our own sense of superior knowledge. We know as in verse 11 that idols "are no gods" and our temptation is not to worship anything else.
We might want to belay our scorn for a moment.
While we aren't tempted after literal alternate deity worship, there are many things that capture our attention, time and resources.
Many people today are looking for meaning in life. We seek it out in many ways. It may be similar to the journey of the person looking for themselves only to find their identity after they return home.
Sometimes we seek what is not ours
to our eventual detriment!
Giving in to the self will not refresh or quench our souls. It is not living water. Rather, we find that it is more like a cracked cistern that leaks. We may find that we are empty more often than not.
These are difficult words to hear and they would have been no easier for Jeremiah's original audience all of those years ago. Self-examination is never easy but it may be profitable if we are willing to pursue it in earnest.
If you have come this far, maybe you'll come a little farther. We'll explore this more in depth on Sunday. I know it is Labor Day weekend here in the United States, and so if you can't be here in person, join us online for worship!
Photo by mliu92 via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.