From Jeremiah 18-22
In today’s passage Jeremiah talks a bit about his calling and ministry as a prophet. He feels a bit hard done by because of his calling to judge the wicked and call them to repentance. Its never easy to confront people with their sin.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
Jeremiah doesn’t back down from his calling because of the burning message in his heart. He must speak.
7 O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. (Jer 20:7–8)
Jeremiah opens up accusing the LORD of deceiving him. Strong words! Why does he say this? The LORD promised he would deliver him from his enemies (Jer 1.8). Now they all ridicule him. This is not what Jeremiah expected. Jeremiah cries out the LORD’s judgment and they mock him for it. They don’t believe. But what can Jeremiah do?
9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (Jer 20:9)
The word of the LORD inside him burns. He must speak, he cannot hold it in. Jeremiah speaks of the passion and spirit within him that will not be denied even though he suffers for it. He must speak the LORD’s words. God raises up people with speaking gifts. He will inspire them to speak. Sometimes through his command, sometimes through righteous anger at wrongdoing and sometimes through compassion for the lost.
But these are not the only ones speaking.
10 For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.” (Jer 20:10)
The wicked plot against him and he fears them. Why he says his ‘close friends’ I don’t know because they are not treating him that way! But the LORD does turn families and friends against each other. These people want to overcome him and take revenge. They want to stop him from speaking the LORD’s words of judgment.
11 But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 O LORD of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. (Jer 20:11–12)
Jeremiah knows however the LORD is with him. The LORD is a ‘dread warrior’. Jet Li on steroids. None can defeat him. All who face him will die. If they came at Jeremiah alone. Jeremiah would die. But the LORD is with him and Jeremiah knows he will be protected and they will be put down. He trusts in the LORD.
The LORD tests the righteous. He puts them under trial and disciplines them as a father does his child. Jeremiah knows this is what the LORD is doing to him through the persecutions he is suffering as the LORD’s prophet. He hopes he will be around to see their downfall.
Story of Israel
I might just quote a few passages about preachers. God declares his word through called and anointed preachers. He overcomes their reluctance, helps their weakness, authorises their message and confirms the truth of what they declare.
It is not dependent upon the preachers background
14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ (Am 7.14-15; cf. Je 1.1-5)
It is not dependent upon the preachers ability
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Ex 4.10-12; cf. Je 1.6-9)
It is not dependent upon the preachers willingness
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. (Jon 1:1–3)
It is a matter of God’s sovereign choice
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Je 1.4-5)
Story of Jesus
After Jesus died and rose again. He commissioned the apostles to go out. We can surmise something of what ministry looks like for preachers today by their experiences.
Preachers are commissioned to declare God’s word in his name
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28.18-20)
Preachers are to declare God’s word without fear
23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Ac 4:23–31)
We should remember to pray for our church leaders and those around us with speaking gifts.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.