Water Streams from Our Eyelids

“I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”   Who is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross?   The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.” Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water. I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them.”   This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them.   Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids.   The sound of wailing is heard from Zion: ‘How ruined we are! How great is our shame! We must leave our land because our houses are in ruins.’ ”   Now, you women, hear the word of the Lord ; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament.   Death has climbed in through our windows and has entered our fortresses; it has removed the children from the streets and the young men from the public squares.   Say, “This is what the Lord declares: “ ‘Dead bodies will lie like dung on the open field, like cut grain behind the reaper, with no one to gather them.’ ”   This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches,   but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord , who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord .   “The days are coming,” declares the Lord , “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh— Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.” – Jeremiah 9:11-26

I took an extended “eddy out” the last couple of days.  I am finding Jeremiah challenging,but in a different way than the book of Isaiah.  It does not have the multi-layered complexity in time and space that I found in Isaiah, but it does paint a very complex picture of the nature of God, and how He was relating to the people of Judah and Jerusalem at this time.  After some days of reflection and prayer I am ready get back on the water and navigate these sometimes perplexing waters.

This passage actually addresses my lack of understanding of what is going on here.  In referring to the destruction and death being heaped on the people of Judah and Jerusalem it asks, “Who is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it?”  I am pretty sure I am not wise enough yet to understand most of this but I will try my best.  ; Luckily God answers His own question.

The answer is not always what we want to hear.  The reason for all this devastation comes down to a lack of obedience and a stubborn heart: “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.”  I think this conversation applies to more than just the immediate  issue of burned buildings and crushed cities.  It is a philosophical discussion about good and evil.  Why is there evil in the world?  Why do bad things happen?  C. S. Lewis took on this complex philosophical water in his book Mere Christianity:

If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realise that this also is God.’ The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’ For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made up out of His head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again. – C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

So in order for God to set things right He must allow some things to look very wrong from our earthly perspective.  One cannot make an incorrect math problem right by ignoring the fault. One must go back to the spot where the error was made and work from there.  God is making it clear that the fundamental fault here is one of obedience and who we choose to love and follow.

Then the passage begins to enter “funny water“.  God says  “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water.  I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them.”  God referred to poisoned water a few passages ago in Jeremiah 8:8-16.  What has me a bit flummoxed (I have always wanted a good excuse to use that word 🙂 is that God seems to be just fed up and not really interested in extending grace to these stubborn people.  Perhaps in scattering the people to other nations God was putting the ball in their courts again, it was up to the remnant to return to Him.

God is making it clear for those who have ears to hear that the coming judgement will be very sad and heart wrenching, “Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids.”  The pronouns here are interesting.  God seems to be making it clear that the sadness and weeping is mutual.  He is not happy with this path, but He apparently is left with no other option.

God again provides a way to avoid, or at least understand the coming calamity.  He says “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord , who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”  God wants people whose hearts know Him.  A people whose hearts live for Him and are alive in Him.

The final sentence really explains the fundamental problem “For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.”  So circumcision was a choice that parents made to physically alter their male children.  It is a spiritual metaphor for a fundamental change in spirit that God is asking to people of Israel, and all those who would follow Him, to make.  He wants us to allow our hearts to be channeled so that they flow toward Him and no other.  The “heart circumcision” process is to alter out spirit so that it conforms to God’s spirit and will for us.  It is sometimes painful and often something we try to avoid.

Prayer: God help us all to be willing to have our hearts and souls channeled toward You.

 

This entry was posted in Covenant, Discernment, Discipleship, Following God, Free Will, God's Love for Us, grace, Jeremiah, Love for the Lost, Obedience, Prophecy, religion, Sin, The Earthly Realm, The Nature of God, Trusting God and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Water Streams from Our Eyelids

  1. Pingback: Famine and Sword | Walking on Water

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