Today's Lectionary Text
Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “It is the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you. But as for me, here I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”
Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.” And some of the elders of the land arose and said to all the assembled people, “Micah of Moresheth, who prophesied during the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, said to all the people of Judah: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts,
Zion shall be plowed as a field;
Did King Hezekiah of Judah and all Judah actually put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and did not the Lord change his mind about the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster on ourselves!”
There was another man prophesying in the name of the Lord, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words exactly like those of Jeremiah. And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor and men with him to Egypt, and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and threw his dead body into the burial place of the common people.
But the hand of Ahikam son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over into the hands of the people to be put to death.
As I read today’s passage in my office, the song “Ain’t No Man” by The Avett Brothers began to play on my computer. There is a line in that song that I think can help unlock the power of our passage: “There ain’t nobody here who can cause me pain or raise my fear/ ‘Cause I got only love to share/ If you’re looking for truth, I’m proof you’ll find it there”.
In today’s passage, we have two prophets: Jeremiah and Uriah. They both preach the same message, but yield very different results. Why would this be? Why is Jeremiah not put to death like Uriah? It seems to me that the difference lies in the spirit with which these prophets were operating.
When Jeremiah’s life is threatened, he says, “Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves.” But Uriah, when faced with the same threats, flees to Egypt. Jeremiah is operating with complete confidence in his message that is rooted in love for God and his people. We see this love come through in v. 13, when he pleads that the people turn back to God to avoid destruction. Uriah, on the other hand, operates out of a spirit of fear; and this spirit leads Uriah to his death.
So, as we Christians do our own prophetic work in the world today, we must ask ourselves: Are we a Jeremiah or a Uriah? Are we operating out of a spirit of love or fear? Fear will always lead us to our own destruction and the ultimate failing of our prophetic mission. But if we have only love to share, nobody will be able to cause us pain or raise our fear.
St. Andrews UMC
Missouri River District
Prayer for Reflection
Loving God, as I seek to do your good work in the world, please remind me to always act out of your perfect love, which drives out all fear. Help me remember that the truth is found in your love. Amen.
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