God's Postal Carrier
based on Jeremiah 33:14-16
Adapted from a sermon by Roy E. Fowler, Afton/Stone Dam United Methodist Church,
He was only doing his job and yet for all his
diligence, we find Jeremiah doing time in the county prison. Thats where we find
ourselves this morning. The return address had been clear enough-FROM: God. And the
recipients name was apparently quite legible-TO: King Zedekiah. Yet this messenger
now sits in jail because the King was not pleased with the letters contents. The
message? God: "You cant win, Zedekiah. You will not escape and you will be
captured and taken to Babylon."
Now get this. Jeremiah is in jail. God has said that Jerusalem will fall and the people
will be carried off to Babylon. Then, to Jeremiahs amazement, God sent a relative to
him. This relative had a piece of land to sale. God told Jeremiah to buy it, have
witnesses and put the deed in a safe place because he will need it later. Basically
Jeremiah said: "Lord, why in the world have you told me to do this. It wont be
worth a dime when we are all hauled off to Babylon." And Gods response?
"Jeremiah because these people have greatly sinned against me I have done this to
them. But I will do all the good that I said that I would do too. They will come back to
this land; I have spoken." By some peoples reckoning, God fulfilled His Word to
the Jewish people in 1948 when Israel became a state again.
God continues to this day to use the postal service of preachers, teachers, and godly
people to bring important words to us. What "land" is it that God encourages us
to invest in? For some of us, maybe God invites us to by "spiritual land." God
says, "Buy some spiritual land; get that deed, have witnesses to the transaction, and
put it in a safe place. Spiritual land comes in the form of what God offers us in Jesus
Christ. A belief that affirms what the earliest Christians confessed: "I believe in
Jesus Christ his only Son, born of the Virgin Mary . . ." You can get that spiritual
land today and the witness is right here in this sanctuary. The deed on that piece of land
is the deed of believing in Jesus so much that your belief transforms your life forever.
The deed will be stored in a safe place. That place is called Heaven.
This is not to say walking down in front of the Church saves us or going to a
Confirmation Class or in the early hours of a night of struggle we accept Christ as the
King and ruler of our lives. Its not what we have done but what God through Jesus
has done for us. We are saved by faith not by anything we do. We cant boast about
what we have done to be saved. Jesus has done it all by dyeing on the cross for all of our
sins. But after salvation we will have godly works manifest themselves in us.
Listen again to the Good News according to Jeremiah . . .
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have
promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that
time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute
judgment and righteousness in the land.
But it is important to note that Jeremiah did not say that God was rising up a new
nation, a new government, or a mighty army to sweep across the world with power. He spoke
only of a righteous branch sprouting up. What can we expect from something as harmless as
a righteous branch?
In 4 bc this righteous branch was a baby born in Bethlehem. He was born to a young
virgin about-probably in her early teenage years. She was engaged to a man older that she.
Our God had hand picked these two to bring up His son that we call Jesus. Joseph did not
know Mary as his wife until after Jesus was born.
This was all a bit confusing to many devout people since most were looking for a very
visible Messiah that would swoop down from the heavens to liberate and free the Jews from
them from the Roman occupation troops. Yet Jesus came not from the heavens on a white
horse but from Joseph and Mary in a barn. And worse, Messiahs are supposed to bleed or
die. But Jesus did both. And Rome yawned and continued to rule the world. But remember the
righteous branch-that was part of the contents of the letter that got Jeremiah in trouble.
The righteous branch continued to grow, though unnoticed among the Roman political
machinery. God was mounting an invasion-the branch began to grow and produing righteous
Real hope is never found in attempts to domesticate God or change God into our way of
viewing Him. Real hope is found in God whose ways are not like our ways. God demands
repentance, not merely feeling sorry, but a change of direction, a change of how we
perceive things of this world.
The question is, "How do we do this?" What would this look like in our day?
Am I so committed to the way things are that I cant see God the way he really is? Do
I hear my voice and my wishes instead of hearing Gods voice and Gods wishes?
Jeremiah was put in jail because he made himself vulnerable and faithful to what God
was telling him. He diligently passed on Gods message of judgment and hope. Where
are we in this story? Do we live in the spiritual Kingdom of God or do we live in the
earthly kingdoms of humankind? Someone has said, "If you were arrested youre
your faith, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Few of us would sign up
for Gods postal delivery company if being the messenger included jail time rather
than vacation time!
Gods prediction always comes true. What he told Jeremiah about his country came
true. It is a historical fact. What God told Isaiah came true. Jesus was born, he lived
and died for us. Such are the facts. But the most important truth is that He rose again.
To those on the road to Emmaus he said youre foolish and slow of heart not to
believe the prophets. Those of Jesus day couldnt see what was right in their
face. Because they were content with the way things were and didnt really understand
what the prophets had predicted.
The hope in Jeremiah and its later fulfillment in Jesus Christ as Gods Messiah
remind us that God is fully capable of keeping every promise made. And that calls for
Remember the magi-the wise men-of Matthews gospel? Are we wise in the way that
they were wise? Wise enough to see in a teething two-year old someone in whom the fullness
of God dwelt and who will grow into Gods righteous branch? Take the first step. Fear
not. Kneel and surrender your life to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To the Son of
God who died but is raised so that we can live.
Let this Advent season be your time to invest in a great piece of real estate-spiritual
land-that has been purchased for you and prepared for you by Someone else. The kingdom of
God has come. Its yours for the taking. Amen.