Not Precious Metal, Fools Gold: Jeremiah 6: 22-30

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt van Rijn 1630

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt van Rijn 1630

22 Thus says the LORD: See, a people is coming from the land of the north,
a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
23 They grasp the bow and the javelin, they are cruel and have no mercy,
their sound is like the roaring sea; they ride on horses,
equipped like a warrior for battle, against you, O daughter Zion!
24 “We have heard news of them, our hands fall helpless;
anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor.
25 Do not go out into the field, or walk on the road;
for the enemy has a sword, terror is on every side.”
26 O my poor people, put on sackcloth, and roll in ashes;
make mourning as for an only child, most bitter lamentation:
for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.
27 I have made you a tester and a refiner among my people
so that you may know and test their ways.
28 They are all stubbornly rebellious, going about with slanders;
they are bronze and iron, all of them act corruptly.
29 The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed by the fire;
in vain the refining goes on, for the wicked are not removed.
30 They are called “rejected silver,” for the LORD has rejected them.
We finally come to the end of a long poem that has run from chapter 4-6, and it is the language of pain, or worlds ending, of rejection and yet throughout all of it is the desire for things to be different. Imagine if you would a scenario where a couple has been married for several years, and one spouse has not only been having an affair but has decided that they no longer wants to be married, yet they want to remain in the house. How would the partner react? The partner may want to keep the marriage intact, but would probably not be willing to keep things the way they are, to have invested so much in a relationship and to desire it’s reconciliation only to see their efforts flaunted and then to live with a constant reminder of the brokenness under their roof. Even the most gracious person is going to seek a necessary change to the way things are. Throughout this poem God has desired the people to turn, to change, and yet they do not hear (and perhaps cannot hear). There are too many people proclaiming peace in a time when war is at the gates, prosperity in a time of famine is on the doorstep. The enemy is near, and here at the end of the poem the rumor of their approach has set the people into panic and God or the prophet still desires for them to repent, to put on sackcloth, to roll in ashes, to mourn as for the loss of an only child, yet we hear only the silence about any repentance. They are so corrupted that even switching to the image of metal working, they are all dross and no longer have precious metal left. They are rejected silver or something more familiar to many of us iron pyrite, fool’s gold. The people may look great, but when you find out what they really are the appearance betrays their real nature, and so they are unable to be refined and in the language of the poem they are rejected.
This may be the end of the poem, but this is not the end of the story. There is a long way to go as we walk through the desolation, and I know at times this is a difficult journey for me, but I know that in the distance hope is on the horizon. I cannot imagine remaining in the desolation without the knowledge of the hope that will come.

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