Sunday, October 4, 2009

10/4- Jeremiah 31:15,16 Hope in weeping

(Rachel weeping- Charles Wilson Peale 1772)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Jeremiah 31:15
15 This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping,Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." 16 This is what the LORD says: "Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded," declares the LORD. "They will return from the land of the enemy.

At first the Prophet describes the desolation of the land, when it is emptied of its inhabitants. Secondly, he adds a comfort- that God would restore the captives from exile, that the land would be inhabited again. The Prophet uses personification of Rachel who was in the grave, and he represents her as lamenting. Rachel was buried at Bethlehem, but this was not why Jeremiah or the evangelists chose this image. Rachel was viewed as weeping for the tribe of Benjamin which was now extinct in the land. This was quoted in Matthew 2:18 as applying allegorically to those infants who were murdered by Herod. “Your work will be rewarded” – means that God will put an end to Rachel’s tears. The labor here is similar to that of a woman giving birth- who does not miscarry but whose labor bears fruit. The people would be restored to the land, which will stop Rachel’s weeping.

Thoughts: Ramah (in the tribe of Benjamin’s borders- and former center for the tribe) was north of Jerusalem- and people passed through there on the way to exile in Babylon. Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem, but there was weeping over her children’s killing too. But despite the sorrow there is hope in both cases. People came back to the land after the exile. Despite the death of the babies, the king from Bethlehem lives in the person of Jesus. He is the one from David’s royal line who does not die (2 Sam. 7) fulfilling the promises to David. Even in the most horrible situations- the exile and the killing of babies- there is still hope. Even in our worst situations, there is still hope. Today there is much fear for our circumstances, and little grace. But we should have more hope. Hope to believe God’s grace can overcome even the worst of situations. One of the worst of all situations- the worst kind of grief and sadness- is losing a child. Jeremiah and Matthew infer that even in this kind of sadness, God is not absent, nor does He stop working.

Prayer: Today, Lord, give me hope. Hope even in the worst problems of life. Thank you for the hope of Bethlehem that quiets her sadness and weeping.

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