To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
July/August 2014 Issue – ‘Poet of Hope’
Today’s text for reading and meditation:
Jeremiah 12: 1, 5-17 (NIV-UK):You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? …
(God’s answer) ‘If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family; even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you.
I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of her enemies. My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest. She roars at me; therefore I hate her. Has not my inheritance become to me like a speckled bird of prey that other birds of prey surround and attack? Go and gather all the wild beasts; bring them to devour.
Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares.
Over all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will swarm, for the sword of the Lord will devour from one end of the land to the other; no one will be safe.
They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. They will bear the shame of their harvest because of the Lord’s fierce anger.’
This is what the Lord says: ‘As for all my wicked neighbours who seize the inheritance I gave to my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country.
And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives”; even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal – then they will be established among my people. But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,’ declares the Lord.”
I found this to be a very good study. Selwyn looks at the question: If God is good, why does He allow evil to flourish? In a sense, this question, reveals a deeper mystery: Why can’t God’s people enjoy Heaven on Earth, free from pain and suffering?
We know, what is happening when we understand Scripture that we are on a journey through a desert – heading towards the promised land – and we trust in God’s love that He will lead us there. The answer as to why we need to suffer injustices, terrible accidents and evil acts committed by ‘terrorists’, is not provided by God, as was the case with Job; nor did God answer Jeremiah’s explicit question regarding justice.
Likewise, we – in general – will not receive a direct answer, if we ask the same question. It comes down to trust, God’s children trust their Father. As it says in Romans 8:28 – ‘in all things (including bad things) God works for the good of those who love Him’.
Now lets look at what Selwyn writes: “Jeremiah knew that God’s justice will ultimately be seen to be done and like many of us, he wants to see it now. … Have you noticed that God never answers the vexed question of why there are so many apparent miscarriages of justice in the world? Instead He questions us, re-directs us or reassures us.
God gives Jeremiah a bracing reply: ‘If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?’ Meaning that Jeremiah’s problems with the wicked now, were nothing compared with the difficulties he would face in the future. If he can’t trust God in the still darkness how will he trust Him in a raging storm?
What was Jeremiah’s response to this challenging question? … He responded not by argument but by action. He rose to the challenge. He ran with the horses.”
It must be obvious to everyone that we live in a fallen world; you just need to watch today’s news to see evidence of our brokenness: we have a horrific report of a plane being destroyed in the air with hundreds dead. There is a another conflict in Israel, with a ground offensive against Gaza. There are many people dying in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There are wars, famine and disease in Africa and other places. Plus, there are numerous accidents – many people die on the world’s roads – every day.
Yet, the worst case of evil is at the core of our being: our suffering, innocent, and holy servant, dying on the cross, for each one of us. Why?