Within a short 3 mile walk from the Holy City, God called a sensitive boy named Jeremiah from the village of Anathoth. This youth was given the overwhelming responsibility of speaking as God’s prophet. Because his father was a priest, Jeremiah no doubt was familiar and molded by the influence of his ancestry. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:4) The story of Jeremiah’s obedience to speak difficult words takes place in the midst of a critical time of Jerusalem. During the reign of both king Josiah and his son Jehoiakim, with fear for his lack of experience or eloquence, Jeremiah responded “I do not know how to speak, I am only a child.”
God commanded the youth “Do not say ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and I will rescue you.” (Jer 1:7) Uh oh, God said that He would need to rescue Jeremiah, from what?
Jeremiah was greeted with anger and hostility everywhere he went! His excuse that he was to young, too inexperienced did not disqualify him or let him off the hook of obedience. When God calls us to serve, to give, to help, or to warn a friend when they are sliding into sin, do our feeble excuses please God?
The lesson in Jeremiah is that we are all to get ourselves ready and be prepared to be salt and light. It is not important to be liked, it is important that God’s Word be obeyed as the consequence for sin is death. God repeats Himself to Joshua, Jeremiah and to us “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” (Jer 1:19)
The young man obeyed and prophesied boldly. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. I will pronounce My judgments on My people because of their wickedness in forsaking Me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.” (Jer 2:14)
The truth remains today “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9) God’s people believed that they had not sinned, and that they were innocent, and that God was not angry with them.
Today, believers in this generation believe they are innocent, and without sin. “God is love.” Yes, but He is also holy. People change geography, jobs and spouses and end up disappointed by the fake news and bad advice that says; “ah, it’s ok, everybody is doing it”. God sends messengers to warn us, because He does not one to go to hell, and hell is an eternal fire of torture, forever. We cannot hide or run from the truth.
“Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed in Egypt as you were by Assyria.” (Jer 2:35) God asked the people of Judah and Jerusalem to purify their hearts, to break up the shallow ground, to dig deeper than the surface and confess the Lie that had replaced the Truth. The Lord asked that they return to Him and admit and confess the detestable things stored deep in their hearts. Those that refused were able to witness God’s wrath pouring out like a fire for the evil that remained unconfessed. (Jer 4)
The people lived in denial about their sins. “They lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.” (Jer 5:12)
While weeping, Jeremiah began his ministry sixty years after the death of Isaiah. Obediently he relayed all of what the Lord gave him to speak or write for forty years.
Jesus is pictured in the story of Jeremiah as the Fountain of Living Waters, the Great Physician, the Good Shepherd, the Righteous Branch and as the Redeemer. Jeremiah: 50:34; 2:13; 8:22; 31:10; 23:5. Jeremiah was the ninth of the prophets. God’s hope through this voice was to turn God’s people back to the Lord.
During the reign of Josiah, while standing in the Temple, Jeremiah predicted that the Temple would be destroyed. They were all shocked and they said his words were blasphemy. (Jer 26:7-9)
The cry then was that Jeremiah was “Un-Jewish” that he did not believe in God’s plan for Jerusalem. Much like people might cry that it is “Un-American” for anyone to believe that the USA could be defeated or have it’s towers destroyed.
The rulers bound him so that they would no longer be troubled by his words. But the Lord told Jeremiah to dictate all the words the Lord had spoken to him. The scroll was to be taken to the temple and read by his loyal friend Baruch. The Royal Investigation Committee decided that the scroll must be brought to king Jehoiakim. After 3-4 columns were read by Jehudi, the king angrily took a knife and cut the roll to pieces and threw it into the fire. They had heard God’s Word and rejected it, their fate was doomed. When the king ordered the guards to seize Jeremiah, they could not find him as God had hidden him. (Jer 36)
In the 4th year of Jehoiakim’s reign, king Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah (605 B.C.) King Jehoiakim was put into chains and during that invasion, Daniel and his friends were also taken to Babylon. Jeremiah directly opposed the prediction of an early return from captivity (Jer 29) The hostility of Jeremiah’s enemies became increasingly worse. He was charged with desertion and put in prison.
King Zedekiah was full of fear when he visited Jeremiah to inquire what was in store for him. Jeremiah was adamant that the king should surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. (Jer 38:14) After a year and a half of persistent battle, Jerusalem was taken (587 B.C.) King Zedekiah’s sons were killed before his eyes. Afterwards the king himself was blinded and carried off in chains to Babylon. After the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah continued to proclaim divine predictions in chapters 40-44.
Jeremiah wrote what agony he lived while he lived it. When we find ourselves in a difficult season, this book becomes a great companion. Jeremiah survived much by the grace of God, and so do we during the disruptive times of this generation.
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
All rights reserved.
“It is finished” 4/18/19