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itching ears...

There are times in life that just don't make any sense. You try and try and try some more, but you're left just throwing up your hands, hiding under the covers and hoping you dream of eternity so you don't have to face the present. I wonder if that is what Jeremiah ever felt at any given moment.

He was a youth when his ministry began, some scholars say 17. And for 40+ years he would tell the people to repent, or their city would be destroyed...only to be met with silence. He would be forbidden to marry, persecuted, ostracized, mocked, thrown into pits...and he would be the last prophet God would send to preach repentance to the Southern Kingdom of Judah before he decimated them. And it was a whammy of a task! But Jeremiah, through his tears and anguish, had resolve and never relented in his message, believing God was greater than he.

One such message was in response to Hananiah. The people had been plagued with false prophets. Their itching ears wanted to hear a positive message of peace and a future (insert butterflies in a field here). They refused to listen to a message of something that they needed to do to secure that peace and future...they wanted it now...with no personal responsibility. Sounds so similar to the world we live in now. And it was Hananiah who gave the people this message of peace and prosperity, and that it would happen quickly, within two years. Excitement would have poured through the crowds at the "prophecy".

Yet, Jeremiah rebuked that message, with a wooden yoke bar around his neck to symbolize the repentance needed of the people and the weight of their sins, or they too would be under the yoke of the Babylonians. In an act of defiance, Hananiah broke that yoke and when he did, Jeremiah boldly "went on his way". He surely didn't have time for Hananiah's nonsense, and opted instead to wait for the Lord's response, not his own. A patience that we all would do well to follow. God did answer - replacing the wooden yoke with an iron one, and bringing death to Hananiah. What Hananiah failed to realize is that in breaking the wooden yoke, he had traded it in for an even harsher judgement. The people's hearts were hardening and the symbolization was clear.

Ultimately, the people continued to rebel against God and the message given through Jeremiah. They chose who they would follow and it would lead to dyer consequences. In our culture, competing viewpoints have taken center stage and we have seen this play out in real time. As Christians, how do we respond? How do you respond? Are you quick to answer or are you quick to pray? Are we quick to run to the Word or do we run to what someone else has said? Are we eager to listen to man? Or does our eagerness lie in Christ alone? Only one road leads to victory, because the war has already been won in Jesus...

"You were running well, who prevented you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from the One who called you. A little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in the Lord you will not accept any other view...I say then, walk by the spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Galatians 5:7-10a, 16

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest....for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28a, 29b


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