September 17, 2019
A Horrible and Shocking Thing Has Happened
September 17, 2019
Jeremiah continues his lament directed at the rich and powerful: “They do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor. . . . A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, . . . and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer 5:28, 20-21) God is shocked when prophets lie, and leaders of the people claim they no longer need God’s authority to act. And saddest of all, “my people love it this way.”
The writer of 2 Peter gives some thought to the question Jeremiah poses: what will the end be like for God’s faithful people? Like most Scripture concerning the “end times,” these verses use images that are disturbing but ambiguous and not limited to one interpretation. Destruction by fire is used by writers even today to represent perils we face, and sometimes pointing to our own reckless complicity. For example, in the short poem “Fire and Ice,” Robert Frost responds to forecasts of doom by implying that it is our own “fire” of desire [or greed] and our “ice” of hate which put us in danger.
What the Scriptures offer that the doomsayers do not is the promise that God is always ready to forgive those who repent and set us on the path to God’s righteousness. The world as we know it already seems to be fading around us, but “in keeping with his promise, we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). We will know that righteousness dwells with us when loving God leads us to love others in God’s name, starting with “defending the just cause of the poor.”
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Has a “shocking and horrible thing” ever caused you to worry about our future? What is shocking about leaders who lie and usurp God’s authority?
- What does it mean to be part of God’s promised future? What hopes do you have for God’s “new heaven and new earth”? How would you describe a place where “righteousness dwells”?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- Listen to the audio of Frost’s “Fire and Ice” and let each person talk about the poem’s meaning.
- How do you tell what is true and what is fake? How does loving God help you know what is important and what is not?
Ever-patient God, we are thankful that you are not slow in keeping your promises, for “a thousand ages in your sight are like an evening gone.” Give us courage as we pray: “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come: Be thou our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home.” Amen. (UMH # 117)