“Promises”

Updated: Dec 14, 2021


Jeremiah 33:14-16

November 28, 2021

Dr. Todd R. Wright


“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made...”

Oh, how Jeremiah’s audience needed to hear those words!


They needed to hear them because their reality looked anything but promising!


King Nebuchadnezzar is marching toward Jerusalem. The people are tearing down their own houses to build fortifications, but it is all in vain. The city will fall, just as Jeremiah has been saying it would. The Temple will be destroyed and the people will be dragged into exile.


There is no hope for them!


Except, into the darkness, into the despair, into the destruction, Jeremiah proclaims God is making a promise. Keeping a promise, really.


Long ago, God made a covenant with David to establish his house over Israel.


And even though David sinned, and his descendants sinned, and all the people sinned, God has not forgotten that promise. God promises a sprig will sprout up out of a sawed off stump.


Perhaps you can as easily imagine new growth poking up from the ashes of a forest fire.

Where life had ended; where there was no hope … God speaks!

 

For some, Jerusalem’s situation, all those years ago, is hard to picture. Their lives are stable; their health is good; their finances are sufficient for their needs. Destruction and despair are something that happen to other people on the other side of the world.


But then something happens, and suddenly you are the one in need of rescue.


Emory Gillespie knows this all too well.


She was rushing to pick up a pair of black pumps. She was the new pastor in town, tapped to preach the ecumenical Thanksgiving service. She wanted to impress her clergy peers. Instead, she got in a car wreck. Here’s how she remembers it:


“In a November’s freezing rain, a semi stopped behind us. Its headlights blasted into our car, showing the broken glass and blood. As the truck driver lifted [my two-year-old son and me] into his rig I remember thinking, ‘Something had better interrupt this scene, and it’d better be immediate, and it’d better be big.’ Traffic [inched] around us. I worried for my son’s life. Finally, we heard sirens. The discordant, high-pitched screeching came at us like a symphony. [The] traumatic circumstances [made it the] Advent invasion it was intended to be — those sirens were Good News with capital letters.”[1]


Now years later, now that everyone is safe, memories of that night help Gillespie get in touch with the beauty of rescue … and how Jeremiah’s words about God’s promise sounded:

 

So, when you find yourself in need of rescue, from a tumor or a terrible pandemic, from credit card bills that just keep growing or student loans that will take forever to pay off, from a spouse who makes you feel unsafe or tree that has crashed through the roof, from an addiction’s clutches or anything else, remember Jeremiah’s words. God promises to bring hope where there is none. God promises to raise up leaders who will bring justice. God promises to save you!


It didn’t happen immediately, but God kept the promise to Israel. The fulfillment of that promise is what we celebrate each Advent. Jesus was that shoot from David’s stump.


Trust God’s promise of rescue. Amen


[1] From her reflections on the text for the Christian Century, 11/20/12
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