“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”
attributed to Joseph P. Kennedy, Knute Rockne, Billy Ocean, and John Blutarsky
There are times of intense pressures in history that are complex, unpredictable, and ultimately fatal to whatever you may have wished for in your time. You can feel yourself being dragged along by forces beyond your control. At the time this is happening you are more likely to underestimate the significance of events than you are to exaggerate their importance. That is reserved for when you make mountains out of mole hills. The end of the age of Judah was no mole hill.
Jeremiah had lost the best king he and his fellow Hebrews had ever known. Josiah was killed in battle with Egypt having foolishly ignored his prophet’s advice. In a ten year period leading up to the fall of Jerusalem, the prophet sought to do better with Josiah’s third son, Zedikiah, who was placed on the throne at the age of 21. This effort was difficult in that while Josiah did everything God asked him to do, his son is described as doing only “evil in the sight of the Lord.” To say the least, the prospects were not good.
And yet, Jeremiah goes and invests in real estate near his home town of Anathoth. It was a family transaction, but one designed to communicate his confidence that God was not done with them yet and to affirm his commitment to the future of Judah. It is like buying stock when everyone else is selling (and for good reason.) It’s the opposite of ‘white flight’ from transitioning neighborhoods, which took the form of everyone being carted off to Babylon or fleeing to Egypt. He was going to stay and it is sad that events overwhelmed him and he was swept away to Egypt instead.
In the final part of my series “Jeremiah Was Not a Bullfrog”, I want to talk about “The Investment” and the role this great prophet plays in our being here in worship as a Christian people. His investment in us goes well beyond a field at Anathoth. He left us with a legacy that not only told the story of the people of God, but opened us into a new and compelling understanding of what that history means and where it leads.
It is his faith language that opens us to see Jesus in a different light than we otherwise would. I hope I can help us appreciate that contribution, but also to awaken us to how Jeremiah’s life and witness continue to challenge us in our day through a new covenant, written upon our hearts.
Grace and Peace,