Jeremiah III – “If you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?”

November 16, 2016

The Bible readings this week begin and end with these metaphors for the Christ — the “lamb to the slaughter” and the “fisher of men.”  But in the middle of the readings is a favorite Bible verse of mine: “So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?” (Jer. 12:5, The Message)  Running with horses is being moved by the energy of the Spirit, so Jeremiah had the Christ AND the Comforter by his side!  It is also a great reminder for everyone “worn out” by this presidential race; like Paul, our real race is for that “incorruptible crown” (I Cor. 9:25).

The Book of Jeremiah requires careful reading because sometimes the prophet Jeremiah is speaking and sometimes God is speaking, but there is no “Jeremiah said” to tell you when the conversation has switched. It reminds me of the Book of Job with its extensive conversation in human consciousness about the nature of God.

Are you noticing more similarities between Jeremiah and Jesus? Here are some that I spotted this week:

First, Jeremiah compared himself to a “lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter” (Jer. 11:19), which is the same prophecy for Jesus in Isaiah: “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). And that is also the difference — Jesus used his healings and his resurrection to speak for him.

Second, Jeremiah was instructed not to have a family (Jer. 16:2), and Jesus “acknowledged no ties of the flesh” (Science and Health 31:4).

Third, both Jeremiah and Jesus foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple.

Fourth, both use the symbolism of calling followers to be “fishers of men” (Jer. 16:16 and Luke 5:10). This week I was pondering that familiar story of Peter’s deep sea fishing which resulted in a broken net; and then after the resurrection, fishing on the right side with a sturdy net. Jeremiah also asked his people to cast their faith on the spiritual side so they could see that the physical destruction of Jerusalem was not the destruction of them. The Israelites didn’t listen to Jeremiah, but that’s the same lesson we learned in Hurricane Katrina – that all the material stuff isn’t us!

Mary Baker Eddy gives this explanation of these fishing stories:

Faithfully, as meekly, you have toiled all night; and at break of day caught much. At times, your net has been so full that it broke: human pride, creeping into its meshes, extended it beyond safe expansion; then, losing hold of divine Love, you lost your fishes, and possibly blamed others more than yourself. But those whom God makes “fishers of men” will not pull for the shore; like Peter, they launch into the depths, cast their nets on the right side, compensate loss, and gain a higher sense of the true idea. Nothing is lost that God gives: had He filled the net, it would not have broken. (Mis. 111:4)

Since National Bible Week is approaching, I also like this quote:

Christian Scientists are fishers of men. The Bible is our sea-beaten rock. It guides the fishermen. It stands the storm. It engages the attention and enriches the being of all men. (My. 295:17)

The term “pastor” is used frequently in Jeremiah in the King James Version, but pastor doesn’t always translate as the Bible or clergy. For example, in Jeremiah 12:10: “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.”  Other Bible translations use the words “shepherds” or “rulers” instead of pastors, broadening that rebuke.