Who knows best?

And though the LORD has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the LORD gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever.

Jeremiah 25:4-5

Why is it that we always think we know best?  When I’m teaching my A Level students, I always give them plenty advice on how to write an essay, but they always ignore me, thinking that they know best.  When I ask for advice from my parents, I often end up ignoring what they have advised, because I think that I know best.  Sometimes we just don’t know what’s good for us, and don’t listen to those who actually are in a position to advise us.

This is often the case in the Bible.  In our current Mark Marathon article, Jesus is rejected by his neighbours because they think that they know best; why is this carpenter whom they have known his whole life now in a position to tell them what to do?  This is just one example of humankind ignoring God because we think we know best dating right back to the Garden of Eden.  In today’s reading, Jeremiah says that God has sent prophets to us time and time again, and yet on every occasion, people have ignored what the prophet has to say; people ignored them because they thought that they knew best.

This is clearly not the case, however.  Jeremiah advised the people of Judah that if each and every one of them would only turn away from sin and live a more blameless life, they and their children could stay in God’s promised land for ever.

If we listen to Christ, and take on board what he is saying to us, the promises are even greater; we can have eternal life in God’s promised land, the new creation.  All we need to do is turn from our evil ways, listen to what Christ is saying to us, and, rather than simply rejecting what he says because we think we know best, like the people of Nazareth, accept that maybe Jesus knows best.

That’s quite a bold claim.  We all like to be in control of our own lives and our own destinies, but if we submit to Christ, listen to what he says, and follow his advice, the rewards will be so much better than if we arrogantly follow our own directions.  God knows best, not us.

Will you fish?

’Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes. But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.’

Jeremiah 16:16-18

I’ve got a bit of an eye for a bargain. I used to go to the cinema every Wednesday with a friend on the “Orange Wednesday” deal, where a customer with Orange can buy one cinema ticket and get another free. I subsequently discovered that the Unlimited card offered by one of the large multiplex chains worked out better value. Consequently, I go to the cinema rather a lot!

One of the films that is being heavily trailed at the moment is called “2012.” From what I gather, the film is about the world ending in 2012, something that apparently was predicted by ancient civilisations and in many religious texts. Now I don’t know if this prediction is particularly accurate, but my experience of Hollywood films suggests to me that it probably isn’t. Or, at least, there’s as much chance of the world ending in 2012 as, say, on Saturday 5th September 2009.

As I read through the Bible, I am always amazed at the extent to which the New Testament fulfils, mirrors, or echoes the Old Testament. Here in Jeremiah we have God saying that he will send for many fishers, who will play an important part in the restoration of God’s people to the land that he had given to their fathers. Then, about six centuries later, in Mark 1, we see Jesus also choosing people to become “fishers of men.” The big difference between the passage in Jeremiah and Mark, however, is that Jesus is demonstrating God’s love and mercy, whereas in Jeremiah we see a more angry God. In Jeremiah, God is using the fishers to hunt down those with whom he is angry; Jesus is using his fishers in order to spread the message of salvation to those whom they meet.

Whether one looks at the Old Testament or the New Testament, it is clear that God wants to recruit people to do his will and help establish his kingdom. Will you answer his call?