Who Are Your People?

Scripture: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

Key Verse: Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (v. 19-20)

Observation: It is not for nothing that Jeremiah is considered “the weeping prophet.” Jeremiah strings together words that create an image of desperation and despair. He describes the cries of his people coming from far and wide in the land, indicating that as a result of the Babylonian invasion the people have been ripped from the land God promised and scattered throughout the land. This separation from the land leads Jeremiah to question whether there is also separation between God and God’s people, Zion. If there is separation, Jeremiah lays the blame on the people for provoking God with their images and false idols. Jeremiah recognizes that the people have been here before but this time is different. In previous times God’s salvation was more timely but this time the harvest and the summer have both come to an end and the people are still not saved. This time the prolonged suffering raises more questions than answers. Is there a balm in Gilead and where is the physician? The questions lean toward a positive answer that there is a balm in Gilead and a physician to administer it. So, why is there no healing? Why are the people still suffering? Jeremiah feels that the time of restoration is passed due and is left with a desire to only weep over the terrible state of his people.

Analysis: Bible passages like this one from Jeremiah don’t fit to well into the triumphant gospel most often embraced in our modern day society. We all want to be associated with the winning side and proclaim that now is my winning season. There is nothing wrong with prosperity and winning, but we are reminded in this passage that God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. God is on the side of the “losers” in the eyes of the rest of the world and Jeremiah invites us to join him in weeping over the state of these people. We are invited to join God in claiming the poor and oppressed as our people. We are encouraged to not only identify with and weep for the poor but seek God’s salvation for these our people so that the conditions creating their poverty and oppression are eliminated. Identifying with the poor will make it impossible to ignore their plight or dismiss their struggle because creating this commonality makes their struggle our struggle. Identifying with the poor means more than throwing a few dollars at the conditions of poverty, hunger, and homelessness and requires the development of lasting and meaningful solutions. Like Jeremiah, we can look around our country and indeed the world and recognize that we have all the tools and resources necessary to end homelessness, poverty, and hunger today. So, why is there no healing? Perhaps the real question is, who are our people?

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, give us hearts that see anyone who is suffering as our people. Not our responsibility or burden, but simply as our people. We pray that our resources and energy are laser focused on ending poverty, oppression, hunger, and suffering wherever these may exist so that all of our siblings know your love and provision. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s