Friday, August 24, 2012

The Jeremiah 51 Gospel

This morning was one of those mornings.  I woke up at 5:40AM and started preparing myself for my morning run, and I knew from the time my feet hit the floor that I was not in store for a good workout.  Was it the way I ate yesterday?  Was it less sleep than I'm accustomed?  All these things started flooding my mind -- Oh, and I couldn't find my headphones. 

The first lap cleared the cobwebs, but not the ones from my mind, the real sticky cobwebs hanging from every branch and criss-crossing the sidewalks in my neighborhood.  Yuck!  My third lap started my jog and I could tell my pace was labored at the intersection of Barbara Ct. and Jumpstreet -- Oh, and I didn't have my headphones.

Left to my own thoughts I soon began to pray.  I was particularly repentent this morning, and for some reason was quickly able to dial into a specific list of the most despicable things I've ever done.  Things for which I've repented and asked forgiveness before.  Then I began praying for the grace to remember that God no longer remembers them, and is quite tired of me bringing them up.  By the time the little voice called to me from the GPS in my right front pocket that I had completed a mile I'd had enough.  I walked the rest of the lap and retreated to my office for some Bible reading.

As I picked up my phone and began dialing up the app that I use to read the scripture, I prayed allowed, "God, I need some gospel today." 

I thought perhaps I should abandon my scheduled reading plan, and turn to the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  Maybe I would find some rest in the stories of Jesus.  But as I looked at my plan I saw that today's reading was scheduled for Jeremiah 51 and Psalm 137.  The gospel had arrived!

Jeremiah 51 is one of the defining passages of my life.  It is the conclusion of Jeremiah's prophecy against Babylon, and records how God has used this wicked nation as a tool but it would one day be broken down forever.  God's people who were being exiled from their homeland and deported to this wicked city would be freed to return home and rebuild their national heritage as the people of God.  And at the end of the chapter Jeremiah sits down and writes this judgement on a scroll, hands it to a captain of the march to Babylon, and boldly asks him to read it aloud when they reach the city, tie it to a rock, and throw it into the Euphrates river.  It would sit there, on the bottom of a river, for approximately 59 years before the water would be drained as the river was diverted and a conquering army march under the walls of the city on the river bed.

I have long believed that an invading soldier stubbed his toe on a rock in the riverbed.  A rock thrown there many years before with the promise of God tied to it.  The gospel -- or "good news" -- of Jeremiah 51 is that even if the promise of God is out of sight, out of mind, tied to a rock in the bottom of a river.  God's promises are sure, and His deliverance will come in His time.

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