Advent-ure Calendar Day 9: Peace – Jeremiah 33:7-16 – Ghost Town

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Today’s passage is from what I think is one of the grumpiest books of the bible (I know I shouldn’t say that but it’s true!) It’s rightly grumpy, Jeremiah had a rubbish time as a prophet to the falling kingdom of Israel and Judah that ended up exiled in Babylon. Jerusalem and Judah was in a mess and Jeremiah comes in with this prophecy. Here is the first part of today’s reading:

 

I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honour before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’

“This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank-offerings to the house of the Lord, saying,”Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,for the Lord is good; his love endures for ever. “For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without men or animals – in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the Lord.

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of some of our own towns and cities that are a ‘desolate waste’. It made me think of this song by the Specials written at a time similar to ours – a time of recession with a Tory government in power and people going on strike:

Here are some of the lyrics – note how similar they are to these verses in Jeremiah:

This town, is coming like a ghost town
All the clubs have been closed down
This place, is coming like a ghost town
Bands won’t play no more
too much fighting on the dance floor

Do you remember the good old days
Before the ghost town?
We danced and sang,
And the music played inna de boomtown

This town, is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place, is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can’t go on no more
The people getting angry

– The Specials, Ghost Town

 

Jeremiah, after speaking of the people’s despair that their home will never again be renewed goes on to prophesy:

 

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfil the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.’

The peace in today’s reading is peace in the city, in the land of God’s people, it’s a peace that brings security and safety.

Here is a prayer from Common Worship that you might like to join me in today to pray for peace in our communities:

Gracious God,
We pray for peace in our communities this day.
We commit to you all who work for peace and an end to tensions,
And those who work to uphold law and justice.
We pray for an end to fear,
For comfort and support to those who suffer.
For calm in our streets and cities,
That people may go about their lives in safety and peace.
In your mercy, hear our prayers,
now and always. Amen.

 

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