The people had expressed such great fear, but they would not listen to me.
Hadn't I said, "God has determined this and He will make sure it happens, either go willingly or be led away"? Of course I had said this, but would they listen? No! They followed the advice of false profits that knew nothing of God's plans, they only sought the love of an adoring crowd.
Even the king had me brought before him more than once.
"Are you sure?" he would ask.
"Yes, our land will be invaded and the people will be scattered," I replied.
There was fear in his eyes as he tried to decide what to do. Then I was sent back to a prison cell to wait for some water and perhaps a dry crust of bread.
God would not release me from the words He had seared into my heart and placed on my lips. It would have been so much easier to simply say, "God is good and life is great - no one can harm us." Yes, that would have been nice, but anyone with eyes to see could discover the truth - the people had cast God aside in favor of false profits and gods of stone, metal and wood that could neither help nor hear them.
"Homes and gardens await in the new land," I would say. "God will not abandon us forever, but He has decided to hand us over to our enemies because of our disobedience."
It was this message that instilled such fear and found me in a place of solitude so the words would stop flowing to the frightened masses.
All the people seemed to hear was the loss of all that was known to them. They would not listen to the words that spoke of a place where life would continue and the promise of a regathering in the future.
The Babylonian army laid siege to the walled city, yet the king remained steadfast in his refusal to surrender. The storehouses emptied and the water supply became like dust in our mouths. In one last attempt to escape, the king had a section of the city wall removed and he left his people without defense as he and the army fled into the night.
It did not take long for the invaders to see the escape plan unfold. They pursued the king while his army abandoned him. The invading army put out the eyes of our king and led him away; an irony considering the king was nearly as blind when he could see.
Fear overtook the city as the invaders seized control. God had said it would happen - He had warned the people using my lips, yet the people still could not believe what was happening.
We were all gathered together when the captain of the guard found me, "Are you Jeremiah?" he asked.
"You are free to go. We have made arrangements for you to have lodging here if you like and you are welcome to come with us, but you may feel free to go where you wish. You are free."
No! Was this not worse than the many years of warning my people?
I remained with the few left in the ashes of our city. I watched as people I had loved and tried to warn were lead away. The wind blew the smoke of charred dreams and the dust of empty fields and I wept.
No, this was not freedom. However, the burden I had carried for so long would find new vent and there were new words to write.
"How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night; tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies."
The fear is gone - only tears remain.
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