1The LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD. This was after King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the artisans, and the smiths, and had brought them to Babylon. 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. 3 And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”
4 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5 Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
8 But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who live in the land of Egypt. 9 I will make them a horror, an evil thing, to all the kingdoms of the earth—a disgrace, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they are utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.
Jeremiah 24:1-10 (NRSV)
It’s a good feeling to be on top. You just got promoted at work; you got a raise. The election came out the way you wanted it to. Your sports team won. All the time you put in doing what you thought was right paid off and you ended up on top of your game. But what about the people on the other side? What about all the work they put in for the same job, the same raise, or for their candidate? Does losing make them less?
At some point, we all come to a place in our lives where we wonder “what am I doing and how did I get here?” It doesn’t always need to be a life-changing event that causes these questions, although, sometimes the smallest things can have the longest, most life altering impact. We might not be able to identify how we started asking ourselves these questions, but when we get stuck there, it can feel like forever until we get out. It can happen to us at anytime, or any place in our journey, and as Christians, we are not immune from these thoughts. Anything can be a triggering event for this kind of thought: a job loss, a fight with your partner, a speeding ticket, or a bad grade. It all adds up and sometimes, just sometimes, we feel like Alexander and his “horrible, no good, very bad day”.
That’s how I think the remnant feels. Jeremiah has just called them “Bad Figs, So bad they cannot be eaten.” What’s a fig to do, if not be eaten? What is its purpose? You can see all the figs around you, and they are having a great day. They are good figs, sweet and delicious, able to be eaten and provide happiness to the people around them. But the bad figs? They get the sword. They drag everyone down. Maybe Alexander was right. This is a horrible, no good, very bad day.
It’s pretty easy to get caught up in that kind of thinking; the kind of thinking that says that you deserve all the bad things that you see happening. But on the other side, when you are winning, the opposite is easy to get caught up in as well; the kind of thinking that says that your opponent is not good and deserves all the bad things they get. They are bad figs after all.
Its important to remember that we all have bad days. We are not always on the winning side. Quite often, we are the remnant. It took an act of God to stop us from all getting the sword.
God of Grace
To whom no beginning is unknown, and no word left unsaid.
Open our ears
that we might hear your words in each other
Open our eyes
that we might see your spirit in each other
Open our mouths
that we might speak your love to each other
Open our hearts
That we may be vessels of your grace, and messengers of your peace;
through our lord, Jesus the Christ
Final Year – Masters of Divinity
Following graduation, Matthew hopes to work with teenagers, college students, and families.