While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time: 2 “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security."
Jeremiah 33:1-3, 6
As we begin a new week this Sunday morning – a very special week when we will celebrate Passover and Easter, we are filled with awe that the God who delivered the Israelites from the plague of death through the blood of lambs, and the One who pronounced that all men – Jew and Gentile alike – are separated from Him by sin, would send the great Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, Yeshua Himself who takes away the sins of the world, to suffer and die for us. And we rejoice that He did not stay in the grave, but rather conquered it! Today, we remember the Jewish men and women who, recognizing Yeshua for who He truly was, laid their palm fronds on the streets leading to the temple gates and cried out ‘Hoshiana! – Hosanna,’ literally ‘Save Now, Lord!’
But the emotions and awe of the week ahead may be tempered – even squelched – by the reality that most of the world will spend this week, as well as the remaining weeks of the entire month, at home. Stuck inside, isolating, protecting ourselves and our families from illness, and waiting to see what will happen. Many of us may feel anxious, irritated, even trapped. Many are frustrated with the constant contact with spouse and children; others who live by themselves are facing the stark reality of spending these community-oriented holidays alone. Our worlds, once full of busyness and freedom, have suddenly become very small. How do we engage the Lord from the ‘prison’ of a quarantined world?
Jeremiah, for the severity and unpalatability of the word of the Lord through him, also found himself imprisoned against his will. And the situation throughout Jerusalem was already grim. Armies were attacking, people were perishing, and hope was scarce. Yet, though Jeremiah could not venture out, the word of the Lord came to him! ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things…’ ‘Great’ here, is high and wonderful things; ‘mighty’ is, in the Hebrew, things which had been full of secret and mystery. Things previously unattainable– more than that – things actually fortified and made inaccessible. ‘…Things which you do not know.’ God meets Jeremiah in his prison with a simple invitation. Just ‘call to Me.’ Just inquire of Me. Just ask Me. A simple invitation with a glorious, life-changing, ministry-shaping result: That God would answer from Heaven, and reveal to Jeremiah wonderful things which had actually been made inaccessible and kept secret prior to this moment. Things which Jeremiah, a prophet of God with years of experience serving the Lord and speaking forth His words, still did not know.
In a sense, God is saying, ‘I’ll open to you things and wisdom which have been locked away and kept back because you have not asked me.’ What Jeremiah had not known, what He had lost sight of in the midst of the turmoil and imprisonment, is that though the Lord had allowed such darkness and destruction, His sure promise was to bring ‘health and healing’ to the city and its people. And not just physical healing, but that out of the ashes would come a revelation of the ‘abundance of peace [shalom] and truth.’
On this Palm Sunday, and at the beginning of this Passover Week, in the midst of coronavirus, God can and will come to us and visit us in the prisons we are in – be it our homes, our anxieties, our lack, our keen awareness that we have been apart from Him and that we aren’t sure how to get back. He invites us afresh to call to Him. To inquire of him as to both the reality and the HOPE of our situation. And He promises that, as surely as the coming of the dawn, He will answer our cries by showing us great and wonderful things – things kept back until we asked – things we haven’t yet known. And things which strengthen and enable us to walk, filled with hope, through this difficult time. Because we know that health, healing, and the abundance of shalom and truth, are on their way. Hoshianah!