Saturday, January 11: Jeremiah 31:15-17
A horrifying event happened in the week’s main text, Matthew 2:13-23. Herod had all the babies under the age of two killed in Bethlehem. He was trying to kill Jesus, but Joseph got the boy out in time. Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31:15 to connect this story to the bigger story of Israel.
Jeremiah’s words weren’t about the coming Messiah, though. The children for whom Rachel wept were the ten tribes of Israel that had been completely destroyed by the Assyrian Empire. Jeremiah was a prophet who lived in the southern kingdom of Judah during the time that the Assyrians were slaughtering the northern tribe. Jeremiah’s words in chapter 31 are words of encouragement and hope in a time of devastating grief.
God told Jeremiah to keep on preaching the message, because, eventually, peace will come. He was specifically referring to the fact that the people of Judah would be taken into exile in Babylon, but they would not be destroyed. They would return and restore the temple and the city, and hope would burn on for the nations.
I think that message is still relevant today. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. He is the prince of peace, and he breathed the Spirit onto us and commissioned us to make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in the life of the Trinity–the way of peace, through God’s love, in the world.
Terrible things continue to happen in the world. The Kingdom is now, but not fully yet. We keep on, like Jeremiah. There may be weeping today, but there is hope for the future.