Continuing thoughts on the prophet Jeremiah.
In chapter 43, Jeremiah has arrived in Egypt – against his wishes.
He had, over a long period, distanced himself from the ruling elite in Jerusalem and preached a message of God’s judgment against Israel. He had urged the leaders to stay in Jerusalem; God would have a future for them if they listened and stayed.
They had not followed God’s word as proclaimed by Jeremiah, but had insisted on going their own way – to Egypt where they believed they would be safe.
Once in Egypt, Jeremiah engages in a symbolic act that continues the message that God’s future for Israel lies not in Egypt but with Babylon.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes: 9 Take some large stones in your hands, and bury them in the clay pavement that is at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. Let the Judeans see you do it, 10 and say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to send and take my servant King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he will set his throne above these stones that I have buried, and he will spread his royal canopy over them.
In this act, Jeremiah not only subverts Egyptian power, but affirms the superiority and God appointed influence of Babylon in Egypt. The large stones that he buries are the foundation for Nebuchadrezar’s throne.
This symbolic act is: daring – a public act; imaginative – seeing the power of the symbol; faithful – to what God has been saying; challenging – both to Egypt and to Israel.
What symbolic acts of resistance have we seen, or might we engage in, that would subvert, for example the power of oil and gas companies, or militarism, or the gun lobby in the USA ?
And behind all of the above there is something to do with that part of our human nature that is driven by fear of the other, and an overwhelming sense of entitlement and privilege.