We are studying Jeremiah 21:8-14 for Sunday, May 17 [Gratulerer med Syttende Mai, alle sammen!!] It is a deep, dark prophetic pronouncement on the consequences of chronic injustice. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions about the text we might want to consider:
The background of our text delivers an uncompromising, unrelieved message of doom from God to Zedekiah, his supporters, and most of the people of Jerusalem of Jeremiah’s day.
How does this message fit with our incoming understanding of God?
What is our response to that fit? Why is that?
[In particular, do we have problems with the side of God’s personality presented in this text? What are those problems? What steps can we take (or perhaps, what steps have we taken in the past) to deal with those problems?]
If we were to imagine ourselves in the position of someone living in Jerusalem in 587 BCE, and having to decide what to do in light of the message of verses 8-10, what do we think we would do? Why?
What does Jeremiah do?
What do we make of that? Why?
In verse 12, here are some ways the instruction to the “house of David” is translated into English:
- “render just verdicts” (JPS)
- “execute judgment” (King James)
- “dispense justice” (New American – revised)
- “administer justice” (New International Version)
- “see that justice is done” (Good News)
Do these different translations give us any different sense for what is being asked for from the Judean leadership? How?
What do we think “justice” means in this context? [It might be worth looking ahead to Jeremiah 22:3 or Jeremiah 22:13-17 for this.]
When we think about how an ancient Biblical text applies to us, it can help to see how the text addresses Calvin’s categories of “good and true knowledge” – the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves.
What does this text seem to be telling us about God? Where do we get that from the text? How do we see this knowledge meaning something for us today?
What does this text seem to tell us about ourselves? [Here it might help to ask ourselves: Are we like the people in this text in any ways? What ways? Which of the people? Are there parts of the text we particularly like, or particularly dislike, and does that reveal anything to us about ourselves? Are there implications of the text that we particularly appreciate, or particularly object to, and does that set of responses reveal anything to us about ourselves?] How do we see this knowledge meaning something for us today?