October 17, 2016

Jeremiah

Passage: Jeremiah 6:27

Bible Text: Jeremiah 6:27 | Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways. Jeremiah 6:27

If ever a man was called by God to fail, that man was the prophet Jeremiah. He was the son of a priest, Hellish, and he lived in the little village of Anathoth, two and a half miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jeremiah lived a pretty normal life—normal, that is, until he heard the voice of God calling him to a mission which forever wrote his name in the annals of history.

In all probability Jeremiah was about 20 years of age when God said, “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” (Jeremiah 1:5). Was Jeremiah excited? “Ah, Sovereign Lord,” he replied, “I am only a child,” but Jeremiah’s concern was put to rest with a great promise, “I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:7), and then God touched his mouth with a coal from the altar of heaven and sent Him to call God’s people to repentance.

The life of Jeremiah is a study of vivid contrasts–dark days penetrated by the brilliant light of God’s personal intervention. As the world views success, Jeremiah didn’t put it together. First, God called him to a tough task: to convince his own nation that they were headed for destruction by resisting the growing powers of Babylon to the east. For at least 20 years before the nation finally collapsed, Jeremiah thundered forth diatribes of gloom and doom. He was one of the most hated men of his day, so much so that his enemies accused him of being a traitor. Repeatedly beaten and thrown in prison, Jeremiah was a man with few friends.

Presiding over the death of a nation is never an easy task, but with Jeremiah it was especially difficult because God further denied him the comfort of a wife and family (Jeremiah 16:1). Even when Jeremiah wept for his nation, God said, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them” (Jeremiah 14:11). So unpopular was this man with the government, that King Jehoiakim took his penknife and cut up the scroll containing the prophecies of Jeremiah and threw it in the fire.

Yet a study of this man reveals a sensitive, deeply caring, emotional person who dearly loved his country–and far more, loved His God; a man who was consumed with the mercy of God, absolutely convinced that if Israel would only grasp at the straw of God’s mercy, they would be saved from destruction.

Nonetheless, Jeremiah without wavering held to his position that destruction was absolutely certain unless God’s people did an about face and repented of their sinful wrongdoing. Though he was faithful with unswerving loyalty to the calling of the Almighty, Jeremiah wept for his fellow countrymen bent on destruction and ignoring the voice of Him who said, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

If Jeremiah were alive today, undoubtedly he would make world leaders, intent on fulfilling their own agenda, just as uncomfortable, because his integrity was like an abrasive file that cut against the grain of our sinfulness. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” he cried (Jeremiah 17:9)

God give us more Jeremiahs today who stand like granite against the trends of the day and hold with unflinching tenacity to the call of the Almighty.

Resource reading: Jeremiah 1