Wednesday of Week 2 of Lent

Jeremiah 18.18-20; Psalm 30; Matthew 20.17-28

Christian interpreters usually list four ‘major’ prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.  (Jewish readers don’t usually class Daniel as a prophet.)  Jeremiah’s sustained melancholy makes him particularly apt reading for the season of Lent.

Jeremiah insisted that the Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of the best and brightest to captivity in Babylon were the inexorable will of God himself, a punishment visited on his people for their sins and apostasy.  Interspersed through the book of Jeremiah are autobiographical anecdotes which reveal that Jeremiah wasn’t a popular figure; indeed he only barely escaped the death penalty and only survived being thrown down a disused cistern by a dramatic rescue.  He contended against kings, priests, false prophets and the nation itself to proclaim a divine message which he complained burned within him. [20.7-18]

The book of Jeremiah as we have it is a bit of a jumble, with the various oracles not always in chronological order.   But though his words often seem harsh and bitter there is a fundamental thread of hope that runs through them: the prophet’s conviction that the Lord’s punishment of his people would come to an end, and that out of their travails would emerge a New Covenant (New Testament), ‘since I will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind.’  [31.31-34]

Posted in Daily Reflection.