Listen to the sermon from Sunday, October 1, 2017 titled “In the Beginning ‘is’ the Word” by the Rev. A. Leon Tredwell, Ph.D.
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, one of the priest who resided in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of Jehovah came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It also came in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, to the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month. (Jer. 1:1-3)
In these first 3 verses the scribes, writers, and editors of the book of Jeremiah, trace his biological genealogy, maps the geographical boundary and cultural context of his place of origin, identifies his political environment coupling with it his theological preparation and prophetic heritage all of this in 3 verses, thereby providing us with a full account of the social location of the prophet that we call…. Jeremiah.
Biologically he was the son of Hilkiah, in other words….his daddy was a preacher….
And they lived in the geographical boundary of the city Anathoth,
located in the territory that was allotted to the patriarch Benjamin.
Anathoth, is the city to which Abiathar was banished by David for attempting to crown Adonijah King rather than Solomon….and as we continue to examine this book…we will discover that it will be the men of Anathoth, the city of his birth….who would betray Jeremiah and seek to kill him…
But the scribes, writers and editors go on to say….that the Word of Jehovah, Lord God Almighty, Sovereign God, was placed in Jeremiah’s mouth…..
Jeremiah, began to first prophecy and speak this word in the reign of King Josiah, 626 B.C. E….but he did not stop there….the word of God remained in his mouth….and he kept preaching and prophesying into and through the reign of Jehoiakim 609 B.C.E…and he didn’t stop there….for the word of God remained in his mouth….and he kept on preaching and prophesying into the reign of Zedekiah…. Which began in 598 B.C.E….but he didn’t stop there….for the word of God remained in his mouth….and he kept on preaching and delivering prophesy until that which had been prophesied became the fixed reality in the 5th month and the 11th year of Zedekiah’s reign…when the people of Judah…went into Exile in Babylon…
Please don’t miss this…..that the scribes, writers and editors have intentionally produced a noteworthy scenario as they mark time and history by noting the reigns of these three kings….what they want us to see is that the word of God is spoken by the prophet Jeremiah….and his preaching, impinges upon the royal reality.
For Kings and the royalty, Chancellors and Furors, and Presidents, men and women in high elected places of authority….think that they are the history makers, that it is they have been anointed and appointed to set the historical direction of their society….but they are not….they are not more powerful than the word of God!
I don’t want to bust anybody’s bubble, but I find myself in agreement with the prophet Isaiah when he said:
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isiah 55:9-11)
Additionally, he goes on to say…. The grass may…wither….the flowers may fade…but the word of our God will stand forever…(Isaiah 40:8)……
Well somebody asks…..Preacher….what are you trying to say…..well…I’m trying to say two things….first…
I’m trying to say that from a Theological Perspective….that the Theological Message of this opening passage is that the Word of God….comes to a specific people….at a specific time….for a specific purpose….. by and through a voice anointed of God!
That’s the first thing…..
The second thing….I’m trying to articulate is more of a Socio-Political axiom……relating to my earlier point that Kings and the royalty, Chancellors and Furors, and Presidents, men and women in high elected places of authority….think that they are the history makers, that it is they who have been anointed and appointed to set the historical direction of their society….and for them I have both good news and bad news…the bad news is they are not the history makers that they think themselves to be….and the good news is….they are not the history makers that they thing themselves to be….oh, no….ultimately…they are not more powerful than the word of God!
Among the many things that our presidential leadership needs to come to understand is that….he may be driving the car….but highway on which he is riding, belongs to God. David says, ”the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein….for God has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods. (Psalms 24:1)
The second text for our consideration this morning is the first three verses of the Gospel of John. (St. John 1:1-3) While time will not allow to fully exposit this text, nevertheless let me point out that John, the Gospel writer, and beloved of Jesus, takes us back….in fact he takes u way back….he takes us back to the beginning, or even before the beginning….before “it” was or “being” existed, or time and chronology were ever constructed…and he does this to show us the power of the Word. For it was by God’s word…that God spoke creation into existence…and as John points out through a double message….
In the beginning was the Word….and the Word was with God ….and the Word was God. He (the Word) was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him and without him not even one thing came into being. These texts reveal to us the power of our words as co-creators with God.
This idea of looking back before we go forward, is also found among the wisdom symbols of the Ashante, of West Africa. They have a symbolic bird which they call the Sankofa bird….the bird has its feet firmly planted in the present and positioned in a forward direction, but its head looks back. In fact Sankofa is translated….go back and get it!
But all of this is not news to University Baptist Church of Austin….for you have a rich history of the prophetic….In reading your history, I am told that the Word of God came to Pastor Blake Smith, sometime in the late 1940’s….and the Word of God said to him and to this congregation….there is not difference between the Children of God….Race is a social construct, without a basis in reality….that the Children of God come in all shades…red and yellow….black and white… all are precious in God’s sight… and God’s word was placed in Black Smith’s mouth…and he preached it…under the federal administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt…he preached it under the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, under the administration of John Kennedy, and Lyndon Baines Johnson…he preached it until the Austin Baptist Association expel this church from its organization saying directly….we don’t want your money, nor your conversation, nor your biblical interpretation! They put us out!
But University Baptist …. Took a lickin’ and kept on ticking! That’s one of the reasons I so strongly identify with you….cause you don’t mind getting kicked out of organizations for what you believe to be the righteous Word of God!
Today, in this hour, we find ourselves at an historical juncture as the church. A time when we must explore and seek to hear the Word of God and the voice of God. What is God calling University Baptist Church to be at this time and in this age?