Jeremiah used many illustrations which came from the land around him. One of my favorites comes from Ein Parath. The Lord commanded Jeremiah to buy a garment and bury it in the cracks of Parath.
Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks. —Jeremiah 13:4 NIV
Unfortunately, many modern translations render the Hebrew term, prt, in this verse as the “Euphrates River.” That would have required Jeremiah a 700-mile journey (twice) to perform a visual lesson Judah would never see.
There’s a better translation in context that offered a lesson to the Hebrews at a place that was closer to home.
And the lesson hits us close to home as well—reminding us why we should cling to God.
When you think of ancient Israel, it’s likely you don’t think of caves. And yet, the country has literally thousands of them that have played a role in history. They’re still there.
From the caves in Mount Arbel, to those that provide sheepfolds in Bethlehem, to the Qumran caves that preserved the Hebrew text, the land is honeycombed with caves.
(Photo: Exploring the Caves in Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Photo by James Foo)
One area particularly filled with caves is the Shephelah, the low rolling foothills that slope down between the Hill Country of Judea and the Philistine plain. Not all of these subterranean labyrinths allow for spelunking visitors. But let’s look at two that do.
One of these caves men made thousands of years ago.
Another one God made over thousands of years.
If we knew what God knows, we would choose to wait for His timing rather than push Him to act now. God made His creatures to live in dependence on the Creator. As such, we wait for the provision.
(Photo via ooomf.com, by Tyssul Patel)
As much as we hate it, dependence demands waiting. Refusing to wait amounts to independence and even rebellion from the one who created us.
Insisting on instant gratification (even for good things) minimizes and overlooks the infinite worth of God’s sovereignty—a wisdom that sees beyond the next five minutes. Or the next five years.
Are you waiting for God to do something in your life?
If you knew what God knows, here’s what you would do.
If you think about it, King Solomon never started out to build pagan shrines. It was his failure to deal with the tiny spiritual cracks in his heart that produced a life of compromise and dissatisfaction.
(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)
The backwash from Solomon’s life reminds us how we only kid ourselves when we think we can have a healthy walk with God and still keep our hidden life of compromise on the side.
The good news? We don’t have to.
Through the years I’ve noticed something when my wife plants sweet potatoes in our garden. Amazingly, corn doesn’t grow. Sweet potatoes do. (Brilliant, I know.) You’ll enjoy this scene from Secondhand Lions.
God has set up a system in the natural realm that works with remarkable consistency: you plant corn, you reap corn—not sweet potatoes. And vice versa.
This is true not only in gardening but with regard to every part of our lives.
My grandmother used to bake mouthwatering, fried apricot pies. Just thinking about it gets the juices squirting in my mouth! As a kid, I could eat a dozen of them.
I distinctly remember one day I ate more than my share of the delicious pies. That night around 1 AM, the Grim Reaper came calling. I felt a burning in my stomach. I had never had heartburn before. So I mistook the indigestion for—and I’m not kidding—hunger pangs!
Guess what I did? I went downstairs and ate a few more fried pies. A couple of hours later, I woke up even hungrier! So I went to the kitchen again. See the pattern?
Here’s the terrible irony: I was trying to take away my pain by eating the very thing that caused it.
The spiritual lessons from that are huge.
My first high school had round buildings with pie-shaped classrooms. The hallways circled the buildings’ perimeters. The campus looked as if spaceships had landed in San Antonio.
Students from other high schools referred to ours as “The Round School for Squares.” Nice, huh?
For fun, we would play a joke on new students who asked for directions: “Yeah, just walk down the hall and turn left at the corner.” They would circle for hours.
Sometimes that’s how it feels in our walk with God. He points the direction and we walk and walk and walk. But we never turn a corner.
You’ve probably noticed, but very few people attain stardom status in life. That’s probably a good thing. Solomon’s words, “money is the answer to everything,” come from an earthly perspective (Ecc. 10:19).
Among the rich and famous, so few find satisfaction—even in their success.
For some reason, it seems uncommon for exceptional lives to handle success well. Perhaps because success ranks just as much a test of character as does poverty. Maybe more.
True success is not a result of giftedness, but of character. (Tweet that.)
Have you ever considered the blessing of being average?
It may surprise you.
When the Bible includes geographical references, they appear as more than throwaway statements. Often they play a vital role in our understanding and application of the Bible.
For example, geography bears importance as to how Jonathan and his armor-bearer—only two men—could help rout the entire Philistine army.
The geographic descriptions given in 1 Samuel 14:4-5 describe two steep crags on either side of a great ravine separating Geba on the south from Michmash on the north. Here Jonathan and his armor bearer scaled the crags for a surprise attack on the Philistine garrison at Michmash.
Because geography does not change, these natural elements remain for us to easily imagine the story.
As well as its application.
I recently upgraded my iPhone and had a problem transferring the data from my old backup to the new iPhone. So I called Apple.
As I talked to the tech during the data transfer, he really wanted to screen-share so he could see what was happening on my computer, but the connection wouldn’t work.
Because he couldn’t see my screen, he continued to ask me every minute or so what the status was on the progress bar. Finally, I said something like, “Look, asking me about it isn’t going to speed up the process. Feel free to work on something else, and I’ll let you know when it’s done.”
Did he think when it was done I would say nothing?
Then it struck me. We do the same with God.