23–29 October 2016.
In Jeremiah 37, Jerusalem is in serious trouble! King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon chose Zedekiah to be the new king over Judah, hoping that he would be loyal to Babylon. But Zedekiah rebelled against the king – and his rebellion failed! So now the Babylonian army has come to attack Jerusalem. They surround Jerusalem and hold it under siege. That means that people can’t go in or out of the city, and supplies can’t go in either. So the Babylonian army waits day after day while the people inside slowly starve and become too weak to defend themselves.
But just when things look really bad the Egyptian army comes to help, and they draw the Babylonians away. That’s fantastic! It looks like Jerusalem is saved! But Jeremiah tells king Zedekiah not to get too excited. What is important is the big picture of God’s plan, and in that big picture Judah *will* be completely destroyed. One happy day isn’t going to change that. The Babylonians *will* come back and finish the job.
In God’s plan, the Israelites were destined for death and destruction; one good thing wasn’t going to change that. But for us today, we often find ourselves in the opposite situation. It’s so easy for us to have just one *bad* day, and then think to ourselves that our whole lives are going to be a failure. We have one bad day or one bad experience, then throw up our arms and think that’s the end of our lives! But things really aren’t so bad. One or two little bumps along the way – even one or two big bumps! – won’t change God’s big picture for us. So even though troubles do hurt us, we shouldn’t let them depress us. They don’t represent God’s big picture for us.
In the book of Jeremiah, the big picture for the Israelites was a bad one that included death and destruction. Couldn’t it be that God’s big picture for us is just as frightening?
I don’t think so. In Romans 8:28, Paul promises us that all things work together for good for those who love God. The big picture for us is that in the end all things will work out for the best. So if things are going well, let’s praise God! And if things aren’t going well, then don’t give up. God’s good ending for us is still on its way.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis