I Can See The Light - 09/22/2013

Sermon Text:  Jeremiah 8:18—9:1

   Of all the prophets in the Old Testament, I think I would have liked Jeremiah the best. But I also think I would have wanted to be around him the LEAST. Does that make any sense? I’ll try to explain…
   This is what I like about JEREMIAH: He wears his feelings on his sleeve. No other prophets do it quite like Jeremiah. As he’s going about the business of God, Jeremiah continually updates us as to what he’s feeling about all that’s happening as well. He’s not some detached observer … Jeremiah is physically, emotionally, and spiritually involved in everything that happens to them! Not unlike this pastor…
   There’s no doubt that ISAIAH is the most famous of all the prophets. His is the first of the books of prophecy found in the Old Testament and the way his words have found their way into our celebration of the birth of Christ … the warmth and joy of the Christmas season … makes him a favorite. After all, the name Immanuel, “God With Us,” is found in Isaiah’s prophecy. His suffering servant imagery in the fifty-third chapter, intended it to describe the coming Messiah, could have something to do with it as well. But, we have to admit, Isaiah doesn’t let us in emotionally, doesn’t share the deepest feelings of his heart. At least not the way Jeremiah does.
    EZEKIEL, in many ways, is not all that likable. What do you remember about him? Not much, I bet. He saw a Wheel … some have used that to say it verifies UFOs in the Bible. His image of the Valley Of Dry Bones you probably remember, but my guess is, not much else. He talks about the need for a new heart … is it because there seems to be bitterness in his own heart? Ezekiel is just not very endearing to me.
    Even HOSEA, whose personal story we know a little better, really doesn’t let us in on his inner thoughts. Remember he’s the prophet who, under God’s direction, marries a woman who is unfaithful … for the sole purpose of illustrating the unfaithfulness of Israel. God even requires Hosea to give his children some really unfortunate names as well … names that depict the estrangement of God from his children Israel. But we are never told about how Hosea feels about any of this. You kind of get this picture of a guy who gets dumped on by God … and just takes it. Sort of a wimp, if you know what I mean?
    And then there’s AMOS … You’ve seen the guys out on the street corners announcing that the Judgment of God is at hand? Repent or else! That’s about all Amos is known for … and he seems not to care at all about how he’s perceived … no personal remorse whatsoever.
    JEREMIAH is different. We FEEL his pain because he experiences so intensely and personally the pain of his people. When THEY hurt, HE hurts. When THEY are devastated, HE is devastated. And he brings us in on every thought, every feeling, he endures. Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet” because he has a LOT to weep about. But I think it’s also because he’s not afraid to let his emotions show. And he does it in such a way that sometimes it’s hard to figure out if they’re just JEREMIAH’S thoughts or if they are GOD’S.
    That is never so true as in our passage today.
    “My joy is gone, says Jeremiah, grief is upon me, my heart is sick.” (Jeremiah 8:18)
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