Jeremiah sees a vision of hope, a vision of restoration. He sees a time when, “Jerusalem will become a name of joy and praise and pride for all the nations on earth to see; when they hear of all the prosperity that I shall give, they will be seized with fear and trembling at all the prosperity and the peace that I provide for it.” (Je 33:9)
His words bear witness to God’s promise that the people of God will be restored and that the promises of God will be fulfilled. He declares this word of hope while be held captive in the court of the guard. He will soon be brutally thrown down into a well and left for dead. Rescued from the well, he will behold the fall of his beloved homeland and the destruction of Jerusalem. Eventually, he will be driven away from his home and into Egypt where he will die.
Jeremiah’s vision of hope is not for himself. It is given to future generations, to us and to others. He will live through the full brunt of God’s judgment on a faithless nation though he has been God’s servant, declaring the Word of the Lord to the people. Many faithful people, like Jeremiah, laid the foundation for a future world and sacrificed the satisfaction of their lives for a future hope, for a world yet to be born.
As I reflect on Jeremiah’s story, I hear the words from Hebrews, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, “since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:39–40)
These saints laid down their lives in response to God’s call but also for those who would come after them. They played a role in creating the future. Jesus comes as the perfect sacrifice, whose life poured out death and taken up in resurrection becomes our redemption, our hope, our life. Paul tells us that we should “look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Php 2:4–7)
We may not suffer the loss and abandonment of Jeremiah, and yet we learn through him that the future is created through sacrifice. I fear that we live in an age that tends to ignore the past and abandon the future. Even our spiritual reflections often focus on personal goals, personal achievement, and personal fulfillment. We must not live only for self-fulfillment, for our own interests. We also are called to lay down our lives. After the great chapter on saints of faith, the writer of Hebrews calls us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1–2)
As we follow the Lord, may our lives be poured out for those around us, those behind us, and even those yet to come.