Monday, December 3, 2012

A little (non-profund) insight from Jeremiah

I'm reading through Jeremiah at the moment. It's a great read. Tough, but lots of gems along the way.

Here's something (not really a gem, but a useful insight) that I came across today.

Have you ever wondered about that slightly unusual ceremony in Genesis 15? You know the one where God has just promised to Abram that he will make his offspring like the stars in the sky - despite the current situation of Abram being childless and the biological clock for he as his wife Sarah seeming to have ticked it's last tock.

Having made that promise, God then tells Abram to cut up various animals in half and lay them out. Abram does so and as night falls, he goes to sleep.

He then has a dream in which God visits him and makes more promises - again, about his offspring. But also, in the draw, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch pass between the pieces of the animals and we are told that on that day God made a covenant with Abram.

We don't really understand the details of how this covenant ceremony works and they are not explained for us, which perhaps means that the original readers understood exactly what was going on and so didn't need an explanation.

But here is what I found in Jeremiah today. In Jeremiah 34 God commands Jeremiah to go and speak to the Zedekiah, King of Judah, and the message is not great. Basically, because the people of Israel have been systematically and habitually ignoring the law of God, they are going to suffer under his judgement. This is expressed in various ways throughout the chapter, but verses 18 and 19 say this.

"And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts - the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf."

In other words, they have broken the covenant and as a result, they are going to become like those animals that were used in the covenant ceremony.

I don't know about you, but that helps me understand what is happening in Genesis 15. The symbolism of the halved animals is a promise of what happens if the covenant is broken. Therefore, the promise is a very serious one and needs to be considered with great caution and respect!

(Told you it was little and non-profound, but useful all the same.)

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