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God's Postal Carrier

based on Jeremiah 33:14-16
Adapted from a sermon by Roy E. Fowler, Afton/Stone Dam United Methodist Church, Greeneville, Tennessee

He was only doing his job and yet for all his diligence, we find Jeremiah doing time in the county prison. That’s where we find ourselves this morning. The return address had been clear enough-FROM: God. And the recipient’s name was apparently quite legible-TO: King Zedekiah. Yet this messenger now sits in jail because the King was not pleased with the letter’s contents. The message? God: "You can’t 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 Jeremiah’s 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 won’t be worth a dime when we are all hauled off to Babylon." And God’s 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 people’s 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. It’s 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 can’t 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.

Jeremiah 33:14-15


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 fruits.

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 can’t 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 God’s 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 you’re your faith, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Few of us would sign up for God’s postal delivery company if being the messenger included jail time rather than vacation time!

God’s 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 you’re foolish and slow of heart not to believe the prophets. Those of Jesus’ day couldn’t see what was right in their face. Because they were content with the way things were and didn’t really understand what the prophets had predicted.

The hope in Jeremiah and its later fulfillment in Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah remind us that God is fully capable of keeping every promise made. And that calls for wisdom.

Remember the magi-the wise men-of Matthew’s 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 God’s 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. It’s yours for the taking. Amen.