I would have hated to be Jeremiah. He was a prophet during a time when people were actually listening to prophets. But he did not have much to say about his generation that was positive. He had access to the divine will, and what he found out is that God was angry at his people, and things were going to get very bad, and then get worse.
I hate reading books or watching movies where everyone dies in the end.
I was really excited to watch the Sci-Fi film, KNOWING, starring Nicholas Cage. I was fascinated with the idea of (spoiler warning) finding a time capsule with information about all the major disasters that will happen in history. But then the movie turned me off. It was not going to have an ending where somebody discovers how to make things better. The whole human race (except for a couple of kids) was going to be destroyed. Oh, come on. Something inside me says that is not fair.
I can imagine that there was something inside Jeremiah who felt the same way when he read the script that God gave him.
God gave Jeremiah a vision with some visual aids.
“What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“I see a SHA-KED — an almond branch, LORD.”
“You, have seen well, Jeremiah, for I am SHO-KED – watching to see that my word will be fulfilled.”
That may sound like good news, but in Jeremiah’s case it was not. God’s word was about judgment upon his own people.
“What do you see now, Jeremiah?”
“I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.”
“Right again, Jeremiah. I am going to send invaders from the north.”
“Really, Lord. Is that what I have to tell the people who are looking for good news?”
“But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:17-19 ESV).
God’s message to Jeremiah was that there was going to be no rescue in his lifetime. That had to hurt.
What kind of faith stands up after a calling like that and says OK Lord, if that’s what you want, I am going to do it! (?)
Answer: the kind of faith that God is looking for in his people today. What if you preach revival and it does not happen in your lifetime? What if people accuse you of just spouting a lot of religious nonsense?
What really matters is that the message that we are called to preach (the gospel of Jesus Christ) is our calling. It does not matter if nobody listens, as long as we are are being faithful in proclaiming the message. That is not an excuse for being outdated or inefficient in our communication. It is merely an acceptance that the Holy Spirit is going to regenerate whomever he decides to reach. Our job is to be faithful so that he can use us when he wants to.
The long-term message of Jeremiah is much more comforting. He predicted that God would make a new covenant and that his new people would follow him. Jeremiah never lived to see that part of his message come true. Those of us who have been born again through faith in Christ now celebrate Jeremiah’s words. His own generation largely resented his words.
Thank you LORD for prophets like Jeremiah, who dared to proclaim an unpopular message, because they knew the message was from you.